NORMAN, Oklahoma — In celebration of the state’s second largest economic engine, aviation and aerospace, a new Oklahoma specialty license plate will soon be available with the simple yet soaring slogan: “Aviation.”
The plate is the state’s first and only aviation and aerospace specialty plate. In recognition of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Regional Fly-In in Norman, Oklahoma, the unveiling occurred at the Norman Chamber of Commerce Aviation Committee breakfast Sept. 8, 2017, at the University of Oklahoma’s Max Westheimer Airport.
The plate, requested by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) during the 2017 legislative session, was originally considered for passage via Senate Bill 196 and House Bill 1269 by Senator Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa) and Representative Elise Hall (R-Oklahoma City). The language later became law through a license plate omnibus bill by Stanislawski and Representative Chuck Strohm (R-Tulsa) and was approved by Governor Mary Fallin in May.
The Aeronautics Commission contacted Stanislawski, a pilot, with the idea during the summer of 2016.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Stanislawski said. “The funds collected from the plate would go toward aviation education programs and public-use airport infrastructure, highlighting the importance of the state’s aviation system in Oklahoma.”The total fee of the plate is $35 annually with $11 directed to the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The remaining $24 will be given to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission for “airport construction and rehabilitation programs and general operations of the agency, for promoting the awareness of aviation and aerospace, and providing financial support for aviation education programs to address the need for a skilled and competent aviation workforce.”
The law authorizing the new license plates goes into effect Nov. 1, 2017.
The designer of the plate, Christopher Nick, is trained in the tradition of the old masters and works currently as a full-time illustrator. Reducing his fee significantly, Nick agreed to design and paint the specialty plate, volunteering his research time which involved more than two months work.
“When OAC first approached me with the idea, I was not sure that an oil painting would translate to a license plate. The confined canvas of 11.5” by 5.5” does not leave much room to convey the importance of the role aviation has in this state,” he said.
His first step in his research led him to Tinker Air Force Base, where he talked with several pilots that said the E3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) is what Oklahoma military aviation is all about. Nick said he knew it had to be included in the design. A Cessna 172 and a commercial jet were also added representing the three facets of aviation in the state: military, general, and commercial aviation.
“I could not be more pleased with the final plate design and would encourage all aviation and aerospace enthusiasts to purchase one,” he said.
Motorists can get the aviation and aerospace specialty plate personalized or pre-numbered. The plate is in its final approval stage with the Oklahoma Tax Commission and looks best personalized with five to six characters. After the law goes into effect Nov. 1, 2017, 100 people must purchase the plate within 180 days before the Tax Commission would place it into circulation.