RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation Division of Aviation staff were among hundreds of attendees at the 43rd Annual North Carolina Airports Association (NCAA) Conference in Pinehurst March 19-21.
NCAA's annual conference aims to help North Carolina airports gain knowledge, skills and networks that aid their success. This year's conference focused on the theme, “Airports – Leading the Way in Economic Development." Discussion topics ranged from how airports can land the next development project to community marketing strategies for economic development.
Aviation Director Bobby Walston and Aviation Business Development Manager Amanda Conner delivered a key address on the impact of North Carolina's airports and ways the Division of Aviation can help airports expand their impact through grants, technical assistance and business development support. Conner led a panel discussing how Greensboro and Piedmont Triad International Airport recruited Boom Supersonic to locate its Overture aircraft manufacturing plant at the airport. Walston also recognized 11 public airport staff who recently earned North Carolina Airport Professional credentials through the Division's professional development program.
NCAA honored Walston, who retires April 28, with the 2023 President's Award for his 32 years of service to the aviation industry.
“It's a tremendous honor to be recognized by this association," said Walston. “I'm proud of the progress and achievements accomplished for North Carolina's airport and aviation system during my time in this role and excited to see all that this community will accomplish in the years to come."
Keynote speaker Scott Burrows shared his personal story of overcoming change and adversity. Elizabethtown native retired U.S. Air Force Col. Curtis Lee Brown, Jr., a former astronaut whose namesake was given to the general aviation airport in Bladen County, delivered inspirational remarks during the awards banquet.
NCAA awarded scholarships for college students pursuing aviation-related careers and awards to airport professionals. The Division's research partner, Dr. Daniel Findley of N.C. State University's' Institute for Transportation Research and Education, received the NCAA President's Award for his extensive support of the airports with data, analysis and online tools through his work with the Division Aviation. Mr. Ron Maness, executive director of the Moore County Airport, was the recipient of the Willard G. Plentl, Jr. Airport Professional of the Year Award.
The NCAA is a nonprofit organization that works to strengthen North Carolina airports through legislative advocacy, professional growth and promoting the positive impacts of airports.