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Victor Bird has been the Director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission since December 2002. The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission's mission is to promote aviation, which includes fostering the growth of the aerospace industry and ensuring that the needs of commerce and communities across Oklahoma are met by the 110 public airports that comprise the state’s air transportation system.
Director Bird’s emphases are promoting the aerospace industry, one of the state’s largest industries and top employers; critical planning and development for the state’s air transportation system; making as many of the state’s 49 regional business airports jet-capable as possible; and encouraging public-private partnerships to promote the aerospace industry.
Under his leadership, the Commission has partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the state’s airport planning process that has become a model for other states. The FAA in 2005 presented the Commission with an award recognizing the agency for its “outstanding contribution to the enhancement of aviation in Oklahoma.” Director Bird was also a driving force behind the formation of Governor Brad Henry’s Aerospace Task Force in 2004, which resulted in several recommendations to foster the growth of the industry. In 2006, he received the “Distinguished Service Award” from the Oklahoma Association for Career and Technical Education for meritorious contributions to the improvement, promotion, development and progress of career and technology education in Oklahoma.
Director Bird was also the driving force in getting several bills passed by the Oklahoma Legislature to help ensure the viability and growth of the state’s aerospace industry. The most noteworthy was House Bill 3239, also known as the Aerospace Industry Engineer Work Force Bill. Because of this landmark legislation, new engineers can now receive state tax credits for up to five years for choosing to work for an Oklahoma aerospace company. The hiring companies also receive tax credits for hiring those engineers. This was the only work force legislation passed in 2008, and it is the only legislation of this nature currently in the U.S. In 2004 Director Bird played a key role in the passage of House Bill 1577, which essentially exempted all Oklahoma aerospace companies from collecting sales taxes from all transactions associated with the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft. Before the bill’s passage, only larger companies enjoyed the exemption.
In addition to HB 3239 and HB 1577, Director Bird led the push to get HB 3098, the Aerospace Development Act of 2008, passed by state lawmakers and signed into law. This measure transferred two key aerospace programs to the Aeronautics Commission: the Center for Aerospace and Defense Supplier Quality and the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute. The creation of both programs was critical in the state’s efforts to create more aerospace-related jobs and provide a credentialed work force for Oklahoma’s aerospace industry. He also convinced legislators to pass HB 2501 that amended the Aircraft Dealers Protection Act and removed barriers for aviation manufacturers entering into dealership and service center agreements with Oklahoma aviation businesses.
Director Bird helped lead the charge in 2010 to pass the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, which protects Oklahoma’s public airports from incompatible land use and protects the flying public from navigational hazards in close proximity to the airport. In addition, in 2014 Director Bird helped get the Anemometer Tower Bill passed. That bill requires that all wind evaluation towers be properly marked so that pilots of low flying aircraft, such as ag sprayers, will be able to clearly see the towers during daylight hours and avoid potential mid-air collisions.
In 2009 Director Bird was named the recipient of the 2009 Gen. Thomas P. Stafford Award during the Oklahoma Aerospace Summit and Expo. The award is named after Oklahoma native and retired astronaut Gen. Tom Stafford, and is presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Oklahoma aerospace industry and who honors the pioneering spirit shown by Gen. Stafford.
In 2010 the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association recognized Director Bird with one of its highest honors, the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Jr. Award. The award, named in honor of AOPA’s first president, was presented to Director Bird for his achievements in public policy that have advanced aviation and aerospace. In 2014, the Oklahoma Airport Operators Association presented Director Bird with their Heritage Award, which is given to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments in the field of aviation.
Before his appointment to the Aeronautics Commission, Director Bird was an attorney and veteran of state government. He served five years as an attorney with the Oklahoma State University Board of Regents and spent 12 years in the Attorney General’s office, ending his tenure as chief of the Civil Division.
In 2010, Director Bird served as chair for the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO), the first Oklahoman to hold that post in the 79-year history of the association, and formerly served as regional director for NASAO's Southwest Region. He served on Gov. Mary Fallin’s Aerospace Transition Working Group, and is an active member of the Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development and the University of Oklahoma's aviation advisory board.
Director Bird was appointed to the Finance Working Group that has been given the task of creating a development strategy for Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport, and was recently selected to serve on the U.S. Control Tower Association Policy Board. In addition to those roles, he also serves as co-chair of NASAO's Legislative Committee and is a member of NASAO's ASSET Committee.
Bird earned his juris doctorate and bachelor’s degree from The University of Tulsa.
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