By Ron Lundquist
Starting with the fall of the 2023 school year, there’s another high school that’s offering aviation as an elective. Kindred High School in Kindred, ND, has launched its aviation class with 30 kids divided into two sections. Not bad for the first year!
The class has been trying to get off the ground (pun intended) for a few years and finally the stars lined up. With funding from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) and the high school itself, the program is showing very promising signs of success!
Aviation has such a rich history in the Kindred area, with of course Bob Odegaard and his world renown warbird restorations, but the airport is literally across the street from the school. The city boasts the states’ only residential airpark but even nonresidents of the park witness aircraft landing and departing daily as the airport is in their backyard. It’s hard not to get excited about airplanes! Colonel Lyle Andvik, a Kindred High graduate, commanded the 119th Happy Hooligans in Fargo, ND. Major General Mac Macdonald and Major General Darrol Shroeder, also of the 119th and both North Dakota Aviation Hall of Famers, both grew up just miles away in nearby Davenport, ND. Today Captain Brian Kesselring, past commander of the Blue Angels, has his personal hangar and airplane at Kindred, continuing that military aviation connection.
Scott Bartram, the instructor for the class, is a former Naval Aviator himself. Scott served 24 years at various posts around the globe, flying the Beechjet 400, B737, B707 and the Gulfstream IV. He flew for a short time for Skywest Airlines on the CRJ 200/700/900. He retired for good from the Navy in 2017 and in 2018 began teaching Math and Computer Science at Kindred High; when approached to lead the aviation program, he responded with an enthusiastic “yes!”
As of now, there are a number of kids that want to pursue flying lessons and local Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Mark Burke is able to accommodate at least some of them. Other students expressed interest in the maintenance field, drone technology, and some are just curious. With the course centered around the core curriculum from AOPA, the class will prepare the students for the FAA Private Pilot written exam but also aims to expose them to all the careers that exist in the aerospace field through speakers that visit the class and field trips. The program also started its own drone flying club that meets regularly.
This statewide program owes a huge thank you to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and more specifically Mike McHugh, the NDAC Education Coordinator, for his vision and enthusiasm to expose kids to aviation! If you’re curious about starting this worthwhile program in your school, Mike is the first phone call you should make to accomplish this. The people that have spearheaded aviation programs throughout the state can also help you.
Don’t wait! Make that phone call!