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October 5, 2013

Stroud: Westheimer’s Airport a ‘gold mine’

NORMAN — Aviation enthusiast and local radio personality Dan Stroud said cities wishing to compete for business need to have accommodating airports with jet-capable runways.

“Norman is actually sitting on a gold mine and it’s called Westheimer Airpark,” Stroud said. “You have excellent, long runways, big ramps, an instrument approach and some of the nicest guys in the tower,” Stroud told a Norman Chamber of Commerce aviation breakfast audience Friday.

“Good airports allow small towns to become big towns. Airports tie a community to the world.”

His talk inside the University of Oklahoma’s hangar was the start of the seventh annual Max Westheimer Airport Aviation Festival. The festival concluded Saturday night with static displays, pilot seminars, tower tours and youth activities.

Stroud said two recent announcements portend good things for aviation. American Airlines announced it would hire 1,500 new pilots and Rolls Royce has opened a facility in Midwest City to repair engines on unmanned aerial vehicles.

Of American’s announcement, Stroud said many of those pilots will be OU graduates.

“They have faith in the economy. They have faith in aviation,” he said. “Anything good for American is good for us.”

Stroud, whose parents lived on the North Base while his dad was a Navy Reservist, recalled digging bullets from the Navy’s Mount Williams dirt backstop and from the one on the South Base near the site of the current National Weather Center.

“This was my playground when I was a kid,” he said. “I grew up right here.”

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