Q&A - October 6, 2017

The power of community-wide cooperation was on full display last Saturday at the Okmulgee Airport. Okmulgee AirFest soared above and beyond all expectations. It represented a coalition of numerous local groups and organizations that volunteered their time and resources to make it happen. While it’s difficult to single out the efforts of one person, I’d like to acknowledge Bruce Force who was at the center of it all. A longtime OSUIT employee and Okmulgee Airport Board Member, Bruce accepted the assignment of chairing this enormous project and deserves much credit for its success. Too humble a person to admit it himself, so I’ll say it for him... “Bruce, you did a fantastic job and made us all very proud!”

Q: What did people think about the air show?

There were thousands of people at the Okmulgee AirFest. I can’t speak for all of them, but it appeared like everyone was really having a good time. The weather cooperated perfectly—skies were clear, and temperatures were mild. Amazing sights and sounds were in no short supply. Old runways, serving as visitor parking, were teeming with cars, shuttles, and pedestrians. Static displays and special exhibits, surrounding the hangars, were bustling with enthusiastic activity. Roaring engines and thrilling performances drew cheers from the sky-watching crowd of spectators along the main runway. People were lined up at the food trucks and for helicopter rides. The Kids’ Zone was filled with the sound of playful chatter. In every way imaginable, the Okmulgee AirFest was a huge success!

Perhaps, the best way to answer this week’s question is to hear from some of the attendees in their own words. For several hours afterwards, social media “lit up” with photos, videos, and comments about the air show. Here are a few of the comments I read online… 

  • “If you didn’t go to the air show today, you missed an awesome show.”
  • “We had a great time and will come back in the future.”
  • “Everyone involved with the air show did an awesome job; I cannot express how much I enjoyed having it so close to home.” 
  • “We had a really great time at the Okmulgee AirFest today! I’m proud of what our community pulled off in coordinating this event.”
  • “I was so impressed with the air show; great show hopefully first of many.”
  • “Wonderful event. Plenty of parking with shuttle service to the airfield. Lots of concessions and…experienced pilots that were so thrilling to watch.”
  • “Every detail was planned, and it all went so smooth, GREAT JOB OKMULGEE!” 

But I believe Okmulgee City Manager, Roger Ballenger, best summed it up with his comments on Facebook: “I don't have the words to express how proud I am of the army of volunteers who worked the first Okmulgee air show. Okmulgee truly is rising. I'm not going to even try and name all the hometown heroes. Just know that from me as city manager and Mayor Baldridge and the city council we are proud. Job well done. Thank you all.”

Don’t let anyone tell you that Okmulgee can’t accomplish great things. Please continue to forward your inquiries to me at osuit-president@okstate.edu