Col Steve ParkerMUHLENBERG COUNTY, Ky. (3/12/18) — Kentucky Aviation Commissioner Steve Parker spoke to the Greater Muhlenberg Chamber of Commerce recently about the economic impact of having an airport within the county.

While not a passenger-service airport, the number of company CEOs, military and government leaders that utilize the Muhlenberg County Airport on a regular basis might be surprising, said Parker.

Parker, a 30-year veteran Colonel as a U.S. Air Force pilot, formerly commanded the 52nd Military Airlift Squadron, was vice commander of the 305th Air Mobility Wing, commanded the 621st Air Mobility Support Group and commanded the Air Force ROTC program at University of Kentucky.

With more than 5,000 hours flying time, Parker flew combat missions in Vietnam, the Arab-Israeli War, Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War and Bosnia. He also served as executive director of the Aviation Museum of Kentucky before becoming state Aviation Commissioner.

Deputy Commissioner Todd Bloch, also a military veteran, also accompanied Parker to the March chamber noon luncheon meeting March 8 in Greenville.

Parker, who is a self-proclaimed “old Baptist”, said he was delighted with the food and fellowship among the chamber membership in the basement of Greenville United Methodist Church.

Muhlenberg is fortunate to have an airport, Parker told the group. There 59 airports in the state — 53 general aviation airports, three commercial airports being Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, and three smaller passenger airports, Paducah, Bowling Green and Owensboro. Muhlenberg is among the 53 general aviation airports.

Muhlenberg’s airport is a “economic development magnet”, said Parker. Upgrades done through Federal Aviation Administration money and under the direction of an effective board of directors, has kept the Muhlenberg airport in a great status for aircraft use, he said.

Parker stressed to the crowd that educators, parents, students and state, city and county officials need to encourage young people to become interested in the aviation industry.

“Right now, there is a nation pilot shortage,” he said.

He said there is also a shortage of aviation engineers, air traffic controllers and mechanics — all represent lucrative professions for young people to pursue.

Parker said the Kentucky Department of Transportation of which the Kentucky Department of Aviation is under, is overseer of aerial drones. He said it is expected for the number of individual drone ownership to increase exponentially over the next decade.

Rita Dukes Smith
SurfKY News Director
Region 3 Vice President

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