Charles Ortega of Altus has been appointed by Governor Kevin Stitt to serve on the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission through 2025 representing the third Congressional district.

"Representative Charles Ortega is a dedicated champion of our Oklahoma military aviation who worked to support this critical industry while a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives," said Gov. Stitt. "I look forward to seeing him continue to serve our state as the newest member of the Aeronautics Commission and help ensure Oklahoma remains a leader- both nationally and globally- in the aviation and aerospace industry."

“I worked with Grayson and the Aeronautics Commission during my last few years in the House of Representatives as the author of several bills to protect military training airspace and the construction of tall structures near military installations across Oklahoma. I am so proud to be appointed to the Commission for an agency that holds a pivotal role in the state’s aviation and aerospace industry,” said Ortega.

Commissioners serve as a voting body representing their respective districts, airports, and users of the Oklahoma Airport System, and the Commission plays an integral role in the accountability of the agency. The Commission is responsible for approving the Airport Construction Program at the agency’s bi-monthly meetings and reviewing airport projects within the 108 airports that comprise the Oklahoma Airport System.

Ortega, a private pilot, served as an Oklahoma State Representative for District 52 the past 12 years. For six years he served as chairman of the Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on General Government and was responsible for reviewing budgets for several Executive and Legislative branch agencies including the Governor’s Office, Lt. Governor’s Office, House of Representatives, and Senate.

He was appointed to serve as Majority Floor Leader from 2014 to 2016. As Majority Floor Leader, he was responsible for coordinating and conducting the flow of every piece of legislation filed and for navigating all floor activity, while applying rules of decorum and procedure. In this position he worked with all members, sharing his knowledge of procedures to assist in shepherding their legislation through the bill filing process.

Ortega has a passion for Oklahoma military aviation due to his close relationship with Altus Air Force Base. He’s worked with the Aeronautics Commission as the author of several bills to protect military training airspace and ensure civilian aviation safety.

With the culmination of a 3-year effort, HB 2118, passed by Ortega in 2019, created regulatory requirements for wind turbine construction to ensure that military training routes, approaches, dropzones, bombing ranges, and other sensitive military airspace were protected. The measure required wind turbine developers to have approval from both the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense prior to starting construction, and ensured that there would be early communication opportunities between developers, military installations, and state and local officials. This process would provide for a harmonious balance between the interests of having a vibrant wind energy industry and sustaining our country’s important military missions. HB 2118 has been heralded around the Country as model legislation for states to pass to ensure they can protect their military training airspace.

“We are extremely pleased to see the appointment of Commissioner Ortega,” State Director of Aeronautics Grayson Ardies said. “Charles has a passion for our military installations due to his close relationship with Altus Air Force Base. His expertise in the legislative process will ensure that Oklahoma military bases are well represented in the matters brought before our Commission.”

The Oklahoma Aviation & Aerospace Industry produces just under $44B in annual economic activity, making it the second largest economic engine in our state. Three segments account for the $44B total: Military aviation, $19.3B; off-airport aviation and aerospace businesses, $13.9B; and the 109 commercial and general aviation airports, $10.6B. Aviation & Aerospace supports 206,000 jobs totaling an $11.7B payroll. The average salary in the industry is $73,300 making it one of the highest average salaries in the state.

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OAC’s mission is to promote aviation, which includes ensuring that the needs of commerce and communities across the state are met by the state’s 108 public airports that comprise the Oklahoma Airport System, and ensuring the viability of the state’s aerospace industry.

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