The 2014 Illinois Aviation Conference, sponsored by the Illinois Aviation Trades Association, Illinois Public Airports Association and the Illinois Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division, will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville, Illinois, May 13-14. The opening night “hangar party” will be hosted and sponsored by West Star Aviation at St. Louis Regional Airport (ALN) in East Alton, Illinois. The conference is geared towards fixed base operators and airport officials, and will feature the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame on May 14.
Featured speakers at the conference will include Peter Bunce, President of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA); Barry Cooper, Administrator of the FAA Great Lakes Region; Dr. Susan Shea, Director of the Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Aeronautics; Joel Bacon, Executive Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE); and Michael France, Director of Regulatory Affairs for the National Air Transportation Association (NATA).
Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame inductees will include Midwest Flyer Magazine contributing editor, James Bildilli, who was an airport specialist and publications editor with the Illinois Division of Aeronautics until his retirement. Bildilli currently owns and operates a national airport inspection service business, and he and his wife, Donna, head up the Explorers Post encampment during EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. Other inductees will include aviators Frank Beagle, Marvin Campbell, Jeannie Hill, and Carl Wheeler. The Illinois “Spirit of Flight Award” will be presented to the Challenger Learning Center of Woodstock, Illinois, during the hall of fame ceremonies.
For additional information on the Illinois Aviation Conference, refer to the Illinois Aviation Trades Association website: www.IllinoisAviation.org, or call 217-528-5230.
Hall of Fame tickets not purchased with the conference registration must be purchased directly from the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame. For details, call John Eckley at 309-530-2221 or email email@example.com.
St. Louis Regional Airport
St. Louis Regional, the host airport for the conference, has an interesting history. In 1928, the year after Charles Lindberg made his historic solo flight over the Atlantic, Everett Wiegand started Wood River Air College on a grassy field just west of what is now St. Louis Regional Airport. In 1946, the Civic Memorial Airport Authority was created and a hard surface runway was added.
The airport was used to train returning servicemen to become pilots under the GI Bill. In 1947, Gene Tumbleson and Mel Walston who operated a flight school opened a Cessna distributorship called Walston Aviation. By 1955, their company was the largest Cessna outlet in the world!
Walston led the industry for years building dealerships in Chicago, Memphis and Minneapolis-St. Paul. In the early 1980s, Premier Air Center purchased Walston Aviation and brought all their aviation services back to East Alton where Civic Memorial Airport had been renamed St. Louis Regional Airport.
In 2009, Premier Air Center became West Star Aviation and moved its corporate headquarters to St. Louis Regional Airport. The merger united West Star’s high-end technology with Walston’s 55 years of experience in quality aeronautical services. The company and business opportunities around the airport began to boom and have remained strong, even in the recent turbulent economy.
West Star Aviation is just finishing a 43,000 square foot maintenance hangar in addition to a 14,000-square-foot wood shop and a 6,000-square-foot accessory repairs shop. This addition brings the company’s facilities in East Alton up to 317,300 square feet with approximately 300 employees.
Pilots like the service they receive at West Star Aviation, and the fact that the “High Flyers Grille” restaurant is accessible from the tarmac.
St. Louis Regional Airport is planning two airfield construction projects for 2014: tree clearing and pipe installation for the safety area of Runway 35; and the relocation of the electrical vault primary electrical service and installation of a new transfer switch. Consideration is also being given to the reconstruction of the t-hangar taxiway, and changes in the drainage system.
St. Louis Regional Airport is located on 600 acres, adjacent to Illinois Routes 255, 111, and 140, and within one-half hour of downtown St. Louis, Missouri, and within 40 minutes of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
Businesses appreciate St. Louis Regional Airport’s proximity to a number of major highways and some of the nation’s largest warehouse facilities, and that the airport is one of three airports in the area’s unusually strong intermodal transportation system. The region also offers exceptional barge access and rail transportation from Chicago to Alton to St. Louis.
The airport logs over 70,000 operations annually, including training operations for Scott Air Force Base. Along with 38 tenants in the business park, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports that the airport generates 700 jobs, and more than $135 million in economic activity, annually.
St. Louis Regional Airport maintains an FAR Part 139 operating certificate like Lambert and O’Hare. Standards include full-time airport rescue and firefighting personnel, precision and non-precision instrument approaches, and dual runways.
The airport has the highest field elevation of all airports in the St. Louis region and is above all floodplains. Wide, well-maintained, intersecting runways make it easy to land any size aircraft that has ever been built, in any kind of weather.
The St. Louis Regional Airport Authority is fiscally sound and growing. The airport not only operates in the black, but over the past 10 years, has reduced its dependency on the local taxing districts by more than 40 percent.
David C. Miller
Airport Manager & USAF Veteran
David C. Miller became the airport manager for St. Louis Regional Airport on January 1, 2003. A native of Salina, Kansas, Miller has a Master of Arts Degree in Public Administration and completed multiple professional military schools including Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College, and Air War College.
Miller started his military career flying KC-135 transport aircraft out of Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. In 1972, he cross-trained on the B-52 bomber. While serving at Ellsworth, Miller accrued over 800 days of flight operations in Southeast Asia.
In 1979, Miller was assigned to Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, where he assumed command of a special task force of B-52 aircraft that was deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. This task force flew special incursions at the request of the President in support of actions following the Iranian hostage crisis. When he returned to Minot, he rose to the position of chief of the Airfield Management Branch and then chief of the Base Operations Division.
Miller transitioned to the civilian sector in 1988 and became assistant director of Bishop International Airport, Flint, Michigan. Miller was named airport director at Bismarck Municipal Airport, Bismarck, North Dakota in October 1989; airport manager for Juneau International Airport, Juneau, Alaska in March 1995; and director of transportation services for Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Ketchikan, Alaska in June 2000. He became director of aviation for Montrose County, Colorado in April 2001, and manager of St. Louis Regional Airport on January 1, 2003.
Miller is a member of the American Association of Airport Executives, Air Force Association, past president of the Airport Association of North Dakota, and the immediate past chairman of the Illinois Public Airports Association.
Miller is a licensed amateur “ham” radio operator and emergency coordinator for the Madison County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, a clarinet player, and a sailing enthusiast. He and his wife, Cora, have four children and 11 grandchildren.
St. Louis Regional Airport is located in an area of rolling hills and bluffs on the northeast side of the Mississippi River known locally as the “River Bend,” which refers to the wandering course of the Mississippi through the area.
Visitors can escape in time to learn about Lewis & Clark’s journey westward. Shoppers will enjoy Alton’s “Antique Row” and the surrounding communities for one-of-a-kind finds. The Mississippi River can lure you into an outdoor adventure of canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing. Lace up your hiking boots, or mount your bike, to escape down the path less traveled on the numerous trails.
The region is also home to some of St. Louis’ best golf courses. And you don’t need to escape to the big city for a night out on the town. Live music, performing arts, cultural centers, casino gaming and legendary nightlife are calling you. Visit http://visitalton.com/ or request a visitor guide from http://visitalton.com/visitor-guide-request.
Car Show & Fly-In
St. Louis Regional Airport will host its annual “Car Show & Fly-In,” September 27, 2014. In recent years the event has become one of the largest car shows in the St. Louis area hosting as many as 300 hot rods, antique automobiles, custom cars and motorcycles.
For additional information on St. Louis Regional Airport, see: www.StLouisRegional.com, or call 618-259-2531.