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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 111 public airports that comprise the state’s air transportation system.
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, becoming a model for other states. For its efforts, the FAA in 2005 presented the Commission with an award recognizing the agency for its “outstanding contribution to the enhancement of aviation in Oklahoma.” Bird was instrumental in the formation of the governor’s Aerospace Task Force in 2004 which resulted in several recommendations to ensure the viability and growth of the state’s aerospace 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.
Bird was the driving force behind the passage of several pieces of legislation designed to strengthen the state’s aerospace industry. The most significant was House Bill 3239, also known as the Aerospace Industry Engineer Work Force Bill, which provided new engineers with a $5,000 state tax credit for choosing to work for an Oklahoma aerospace company. The hiring companies also received 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 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, Bird led the push to get HB 3098, the Aerospace Development Act of 2008, passed and signed into law. This measure transferred two key aerospace programs to the Aeronautics Commission: the Center for Aerospace Supplier Quality and the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute. Both programs are 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, which amended the Aircraft Dealers Protection Act. HB 2501 removed barriers to aviation manufacturers entering into dealership and service center agreements with Oklahoma aviation businesses. Bird was also instrumental in getting HB 2919, the Aircraft Pilot and Passenger Protection Act, passed and signed into law in 2010. This law protects the lives of those who use the state’s public-use airports and military bases by regulating the construction of incompatible structures near those facilities.
Bird was named the recipient of the 2009 General Thomas P. Stafford Award. The award, named after Oklahoma native and retired astronaut Gen. Tom Stafford, recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to the Oklahoma aerospace industry and who honors the pioneering spirit of Gen. Stafford. In 2010 the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association recognized Bird with one of its highest honors, the Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Jr. Award, for his achievements in public policy that have advanced aviation and aerospace.
Before his appointment to the Aeronautics Commission, 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, 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 was recently selected to serve 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. He was recently named to the board of directors for the newly formed Defense Industry Alliance.
Bird earned his juris doctorate and bachelor’s degree from The University of Tulsa.
He and his wife, Kay, have been married for 12 years and have two children.
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