MIDDLETON, WIS. – The 58th annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference held in Middleton, Wisconsin, April 29th through May 1st at the Madison West Marriot, attracted 230 airport officials, fixed base operators, business aircraft owners and operators, and state and federal aviation officials. The event was sponsored by the Wisconsin Aviation Trades Association (WATA), Wisconsin Business Aviation Association (WBAA), and Wisconsin Airport Management Association (WAMA).
A packed exhibit hall featured event sponsors, with four cited for Corporate Excellence: Becher-Hoppe Associates, Inc., Mead & Hunt, Inc., Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH), and Signature Flight Support.
The conference featured thirteen (13) professional presentations by several industry leaders including Mark Gottlieb, PE, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Transportation; David Greene, Director, Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics; Barry Cooper, Administrator, FAA Great Lakes Region; Andy Peek, Assistant Manager, Minneapolis Airports District Office; Jim Keefer, Manager, Chicago Airports District Office; and Alan Klapmeier, President and CEO, Kestrel Aircraft Company, Superior, Wis. Klapmeier was the featured banquet speaker and provided conference participants with an update on the Kestrel K-350 single-engine, composite turboprop, and the manufacturing plant planned at Richard I. Bong Airport in Superior. Additional information regarding the above-mentioned professional sessions and other presenters can be viewed at: http://wiama.org/attachments/agenda.pdf
Several industry-related awards were presented over the three-day conference, including Engineer of the Year Award, presented by WAMA board member John Reed to Jim Zsebe, PE, for his management of the multiyear Runway Safety Area (RSA) Improvements project for Wisconsin’s largest airport, General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee from its feasibility study in 2005, through the NEPA process, permitting, design and subsequent construction completion in 2012. With the improvements occurring on the four ends of the airport’s two longest runways, the overall phasing and coordination with other airport projects while minimizing impacts to stakeholders, was a continual challenge.
WAMA President Terry Blue, AAE, presented the Blue Light Award for journalism excellence to Meg Jones, reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
WAMA also presented a number of professional and scholastic scholarships during the conference including the “Professional Development Award” to Brent McHenry, Director of Marketing, Dane County Regional Airport. McHenry is a graduate of UW-Whitewater, receiving an Undergraduate degree in Communications, and the University of Arizona, receiving a Masters of Business Administration. He intends to utilize this scholarship to attend the Loretta Scott AAE (Accredited Airport Executive) Academy in Denton, Texas.
The Aviation Business of the Year Award was presented by WATA President David Mann to Eagle Fuel Cells, a family owned business in Eagle River, Wisconsin, for its reputation for over 40 years of excellence in manufacturing and repairing fuel cells for General Aviation. Accepting the award was company president, Kurt Hartwig.
The Distinguished Service Award was presented by WAMA President, Terry Blue, AAE, and President-Elect, Jeremy Sickler, CM, to Marty Lenss, CM, Airport Director of the Outagamie County Regional Airport in Appleton, Wisconsin, for his outstanding leadership and contributions to aviation in Wisconsin.
The Lifetime Service Award was presented by WAMA President, Terry Blue, AAE, to Rice Lake Airport Manager Jerry Stites in recognition of his 20 years of inspirational and dedicated service to overseeing and promoting the growth of one of Wisconsin’s finest airports. Stu Durkee, chairman of the Rice Lake Airport Commission, accepted the award on behalf of Stites, who was unable to attend.
According to the Wisconsin Bureau of Aeronautics report “2002 Economic Significance of the Aviation Industry in Wisconsin,” the Wisconsin aviation industry provides a total economic impact of $2.8 billion, over $1 billion in personal income, and is responsible for more than 40,000 jobs.
The 59th Annual Wisconsin Aviation Conference will be held in Wausau, May 5 – 7, 2014 (www.WIAMA.org).