Commission

Comprised of seven members, each appointed by the Governor, serve six-year terms, five members are appointed from among Oklahoma's five congressional districts with the remaining two appointed at-large. The Commission is responsible for appointing the State Director of Aeronautics to serve at its pleasure. The current Director is Grayson Ardies, having served in that position since November 2020.

Jim Putnam

At-Large | Chair | Term Expires 12-31-2022

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Col. James “Jim” Putnam (ret.), was appointed effective 3/29/17 by Governor Fallin as an At-Large Commissioner. His term is from 1/1/17 to 12/31/22. 

Putnam served over 27 years in the Air Force as a munitions and aircraft maintenance officer and later as a major acquisition program manager.  His experience included a wide variety of tactical aircraft weapons systems.  He retired as the host base Inspector General for Tinker Air Force Base.  He commanded maintenance squadrons four times, was a deputy group commander and twice took his squadron to win the Tactical Air Command Maintenance Effectiveness Award.  Putnam served in 26 different positions at 12 air bases, including three overseas tours.  He has led a wide variety of organizations from shop, branch, squadron, group, senior academic instructor, to division chief in two Air Logistics Centers.  Putnam retired from the Air Force at the rank of Colonel in December 1999.

Putnam then pursued a career with the Northrop Grumman Corporation serving 14 years in another wide variety of assignments dealing with logistics and program management. He worked with the F-18, a classified radar project, direct support of a Navy Test Squadron, and spent the majority of his time working on the B-2 Stealth Bomber program.  He retired from Northrop Grumman in December of 2013.

Putnam has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the United States Air Force Academy, and a Master’s Degree in Aviation Management (Summa Cum Laude) from Embry -Riddle Aeronautical University.  He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, and the Air War College (Seminar, Outstanding rating), and of the Defense Systems Management University.  He has a Department of Defense level 3 certification in Acquisition Program Management and a level 2 in Acquisition Logistics.

Jerry Hunter

At-Large | Vice Chair | Term Expires 12-31-2021

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Jerry Hunter, founder and CEO of US Fleet Tracking, has been an innovator and technologist since the dawn of the computer industry. Beginning in the early 80’s, Jerry wrote the software behind a number of groundbreaking technologies, including a public-access multi-user chat system, large-scale commercial deployment of bar code technology, deployment of handheld computing technology, two of the first wireless data transfer protocols, and the first system to transfer rich media (graphics, video and audio) between client and server.

During his employment as IT Director at Metropolitan EMS (MEMS) in Little Rock, Arkansas (1997-1998), Jerry Hunter began working with 911 Emergency Dispatch systems and tablet-based data acquisition systems. His subsequent contract with Little Rock Police Department resulted in his development of 911 Emergency Dispatch system there, as well as in-car mobile data terminals with live GPS tracking, live camera system, messaging, and NCIC gateway and client products. These systems communicated primarily through proprietary dataradio systems from Motorola and Kenwood. Hunter founded predecessor company Pinnacle Labs Corp. in Arkansas in 2001, marketing his dispatch and in-car police systems throughout the US. This experience was critical in creating the foundation on which US Fleet Tracking's live tracking technology was built.

With the advent of Google Maps and the proliferation of wireless data services from Sprint and AT&T, Hunter founded US Fleet Tracking in 2005. Relocating to Oklahoma City in 2006, Hunter brought this GPS tracking technology to the general marketplace, with the aim of providing affordable LIVE GPS tracking technology to mobile workforce businesses as well as private individuals. 

In 2013, US Fleet Tracking sponsored the FLS Microjet for its appearance at the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The company demonstrated its live tracking technology at the event by installing its proprietary GPS equipment on the FLS Microjet and allowing the public to follow the course of the aircraft via a website in real time during the exhibition.

Hunter is the owner and CEO of Sundance Airport (KHSD, 122.7,) since December of 2012. Hunter’s term will expire December 31, 2021.  

 

Lindy Ritz

District 4 | Secretary | Term Expires 12-31-2023

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Lindy Ritz was named the Director of the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City in 1997. The Aeronautical Center is the centralized service and support facility for the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation and home to more than 7,000 federal and contract employees, with an operational budget of $1.2 billion annually. Ritz has been with the FAA since 1979.

In 2008, Ritz served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regions and Center Operations in Washington, D.C., and as the Acting Vice President, Technical Training for the Air Traffic Organization. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and FAA Senior Executive Candidate Development Program, and has completed graduate programs at the University of Michigan and the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. She received a master’s degree in aviation and space from Oklahoma State University in May of 1999. She is a member of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University aviation advisory councils.

A member of the inaugural class of Leadership Oklahoma, Ritz has served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She received the Leadership Oklahoma Distinguished Graduate Award for 2000 and the Distinguished Leadership Award from the Community Leadership Association in April of 2001.

The Air Traffic Control Association awarded Ritz the George W. Kriske Memorial Award in October 2007 for an outstanding career which has added to the quality, safety, or efficiency of air traffic control. She received the first FAA Golden Compass Award for Exemplary Leadership in September 2007. Her term expires 12/31/2023.

 

Kevin Potter

District 1 | Term Expires 12-31-2024

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed Kevin Potter of Bartlesville to represent District 1 on the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.  Potter, who is president and general manager of Bartlesville Radio, will fulfill the remaining term left by former District 1 Commissioner Rick Armstrong of Tulsa who resigned in June to devote more time to his newly acquired business.  District 1 encompasses all of Tulsa, Wagoner and Washington counties, as well as small portions of Creek and Rogers counties in northeastern Oklahoma. Potter’s term will expire Dec. 31, 2024.

A licensed private pilot who has flown for 26 years, Potter and his wife, Dorea, have owned and operated Radio Broadcasting since 1980, which consists of four radio stations located in and around the Bartlesville area. Prior to their move to Bartlesville, the couple owned and operated two radio stations for 15 years while living in Monmouth, Ill.  Potter currently serves on the board of directors for the Oklahoma Broadcasters Association, Salvation Army and the Oklahoma Wesleyan University Foundation. He is also an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Rotary Club.  Potter played college football at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., where he also earned his bachelor’s degree.

Dr. David Conway

District 2 | Term Expires 12-31-2022

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Dr. David Conway began his aviation career in 1973 earning his private pilot license while in USAF ROTC. Conway completed USAF pilot training in 1975 and went on to be an instructor and evaluator in the T-37 & KC135. He has also logged flight time in the T-38, TR-1/U2, and F-16 over a 20 year career.  Upon retirement he completed his doctoral degree from Oklahoma State University and began his career in higher education as an Aerospace Education Specialist for NASA while at OSU. Dr. Conway taught undergraduate and graduate level aviation courses over the four years at OSU. A significant milestone was his development of the business plan for the OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine Center for Aerospace and Hyperbaric Medicine. Conway holds a private pilot, commercial, instrument, and multi-engine ratings.

Dr. Conway took the position of Director of Aviation Sciences Institute at Southeastern Oklahoma State University. During his tenure at SOSU he established the highly successful graduate program in Aerospace Administration and Logistics, and developed three geographically separated locations in Oklahoma City to offer aviation degrees. Under Dr. Conway’s guidance, SOSU achieved advanced accreditation from Aviation Accreditation Board International – one of two Oklahoma universities to achieve this accreditation. Dr. Conway was awarded several grants and multiple donations to advance aviation education over the years. Conway arranged for the donation of two new Cessna 172s from the Noble Foundation, as well as the donation of an aircraft from NASA. Grants and donations exceeded $4 million over Conway’s tenure. Furthermore, Dr. Conway completed several advanced training courses in higher education and crisis management at Harvard and Vanderbilt Universities. Dr. Conway has served the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission since 2009, is a past president for the University Aviation Association, is active in Rotary International and was conferred as a Paul Harris Fellow. He now has the title of Professor Emeritus of Aviation Sciences.

Charles Ortega

District 3 | Term Expires 12-31-2025

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Charles Ortega of Altus was appointed by Governor Kevin Stitt 12/29/2020 to serve on the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission through 2025 representing the 3rd Congressional District.

Ortega 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 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 owned and operated a small automotive retail operation for 28 years which specialized in customizing vehicles with electronic amenities as well as mechanical enhancements. His previous employment was with Halliburton Services for 12 years, where he managed 2,500 employees in the oilfield service materials industry.      

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, drop zones, 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.

Blake Raney

District 5 | Term Expires 12-31-2026

Phone: (405) 604-6900

Blake Raney of Edmond was appointed by Governor Kevin Stitt 01/01/2021 to serve on the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission  representing the Fifth Congressional District. Raney is active in both the aviation and business community throughout Oklahoma. He is the owner of Red Falcon Aviation, where he provides aviation brokerage services, management, and consulting. He also holds ownership in several service companies and real estate.

An Oklahoma native, Raney has always had a passion for aviation and business. A licensed pilot, Raney has been involved in the aviation industry for 10 years.  He received his private pilot license in 2011, and later, his instrument rating. He has over 1,200 hours of flight time with hundreds of hours of tailwheel time.

Raney served on the board for the Oklahoma Engineers Flying Club and is a member of the Oklahoma Pilots Association, AOPA, & EAA. He often attends Oklahoma airshows and annually flies to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, for the largest airshow in the world. He makes his home in Edmond with his wife Anna, and enjoys recreational flying in their Cirrus and open cockpit biplane.