By John Filonow
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, visited Stillwater Regional Airport Tuesday to discuss the airport’s Federal Aviation Administration classification.
Inhofe said the stop was unscheduled. Gary Johnson, airport director, said at the Nov. 15 airport authority board meeting Inhofe might visit on Nov. 20.
Members of the airport authority board heard a presentation by Johnson on new classifications created by the FAA after a national conference this year.
Johnson said Stillwater’s airport has been classified as a local airport by the FAA, but is considered a regional business airport by the Oklahoma Airport System Plan.
According to a report provided by Johnson, the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission uses its own classification to channel both federal and state funds.
Dale Williams, planning division manager for the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission said the Oklahoma agency still defines the Stillwater Airport as a regional business airport, and federal and state funds will not be affected by the FAA's classification. Williams said the new FAA classifications will be used to identify the different roles of airports, but will not affect funding.
Johnson said some airports in Oklahoma aren’t yet aware of their lower FAA classifications.
Inhofe said he was disappointed to hear about Stillwater’s downgrade in classification. He said he would ask Oklahoma State University alum and philanthropist Boone Pickens to keep a jet at the airport. Having a jet housed at the airport could allow for an upgrade in FAA classification, Inhofe said.