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  • May 15, 2024 13:52 | Anonymous

    UND’s Aerobatic Team wins nationals and Flying Team wins regionals, the latest championships in a decades-long tradition

    In what has become a storied tradition in college aviation, UND pilots and crew members continue to perform at the highest levels, with the UND Aerobatic Team being crowned national champions and the UND Flying Team winning the regional title.

    The teams’ exceptional accomplishments and dedication are a source of great pride for both UND as a whole and the University’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

    The UND Aerobatic Team recently won its 11th national championship, having earned the top total collegiate-team score from International Aerobatic Club competitions during the 2023 aerobatic season. Photo courtesy of UND Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

    UND Aerobatic Team

    The University of North Dakota Aerobatic Team has won its 11th national flying championship.

    The Odegard School received the news after International Aerobatic Club Collegiate officials tallied competition results from around the country during the 2023 aerobatic season.

    On top of an excellent team finish, UND also fielded the competition’s top two individual scorers. Andrew Coughlin and Shawn Higgins Jr. took first and second overall, respectively.

    “Our 2023 team started strong and kept the momentum throughout the season and into Nationals in September,” said Mike Lents, head team coach and assistant professor of aviation, who has been with the team since 2008. “They supported each other through the contest season, relying on their personal experiences to train to a higher standard. I’m proud of how each represented UND, growing as professionals, individuals, and a team.

    “This year’s team included Andrew Coughlin, Shawn Higgins, Ryan Peene, Devin Graves, Tyler Sperry, Spencer Patterson, and Mikaila Gillis,” Lents continued. “They worked hard and earned it against tough competition from the US Air Force Academy and the Metropolitan State University of Denver.”

    Throughout the summer and early fall, the UND Aerobatic Team competes across the Midwest in IAC contests. Open to any aerobatic pilot, UND students routinely compete against professional airline, corporate, airshow and military pilots as well as engineers, computer scientists, business professionals and many others who train for competition.

    Sequences and maneuvers are flown to match specific grading criteria, and scores are awarded for accuracy, energy management, consistency and presentation. Judges apply deductions for small degrees of error in heading and attitude during maneuvers such as spins, loops, rolls, and hammerheads.

    Top marks at these contests and throughout the season are hard won, said Lents.

    UND Flying Team

    Nine events, nine wins, nine different team members being named regional champions: That was the UND Flying Team’s performance at the National Intercollegiate Flying Association Region 6 meet.

    The team won the Region 6 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference championship in October, scoring a total of 852 points (second place had 491).

    The UND team also earned first place in every event in which they competed, with nine different team members being named regional champions. Additionally, the top scoring contestant is a UND student, Mikayla Weiss of Grand Forks, N.D.

    The UND team now has qualified for the NIFA National SAFECON Competition, which will be held in Janesville, Wis., in May. The 12-member team is working hard to prepare for that completion, at which UND has placed first or second at least 32 times in the past 38 years.

    SAFECON represents a comprehensive test for pilots’ skills. From pen-and-paper navigation to powerless landing accuracy, the contest’s events bring all flight skills to bear.

    The national competition draws hundreds of collegiate pilots from across the country.

    The UND Flying Team won the Region 6 Safety and Flight Evaluation Conference championship in October. The team also earned first place in every event in which they competed, with nine different team members being named regional champions. Photo courtesy of UND’s Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

    The Region 6 Championship was held in St. Louis and drew a total of eight teams. UND’s top marks came in the following events: Preflight Inspection, Aircraft Recognition, Computer Accuracy, Ground Trainer, Message Drop, Power-Off Landings, Short Field Landings, Simulated Comprehensive Aircraft Navigation or SCAN event and Unlimited Navigation.

    In addition to Mikayla Weiss, who was the top-scoring contestant out of 99 competitors, five other UND contestants scored in the Top 10.

    “The dedication, professionalism, knowledge and skills that our Flying Team members showcase in these competitions are a great representation of our School and University, and will serve them well as they move into careers as aerospace and aviation professionals,” said Robert Kraus, dean of the Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences at UND.

  • May 15, 2024 13:38 | Anonymous

    From left to right are Kyle Wanner, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission director, Nathan Sayler, Jim O’Day, Connie Hanson and Rodger Haugen. Sayler, O’Day, Hanson, Haugen and Ray Brooks (not shown) received the gold-level “Fly North Dakota Airports” Passport Program award.

    Multiple pilots were recently presented with awards for participating in the “Fly North Dakota Airports” Passport Program. This program began in North Dakota in 2011 and it rewards pilots who fly to North Dakota’s publicly owned airports, attend FAA safety seminars, and visit North Dakota’s aviation museums.  This program promotes safety, continuing education, and encourages pilots to practice approaches and landings in many different environments. This program also offers an opportunity to promote and support North Dakota’s airports and their community businesses and tourism opportunities.

    he gold award was achieved by five pilots during the past year and these individuals received a leather flight jacket embroidered with the North Dakota Flying Legacy logo. These pilots join the 98 others who have completed the passport program in previous years, making a grand total of 103 pilots who have achieved the gold award since the program’s inception.

    The following is a list of the individuals achieving the gold level in 2023:

    Ray Brooks - Bismarck, ND

    Connie Hanson - Devils Lake, ND

    Rodger Haugen - Devils Lake, ND

    Nathan Sayler - Valley City, ND 

    Jim O’Day - Fargo, ND

  • May 15, 2024 13:32 | Anonymous

    The Ashley Municipal Airport receives the 2023 General Aviation Airport of the Year award during the North Dakota Aviation Association's FLY-ND Conference awards banquet on March 5th, 2024. Pictured from left to right is Ryan Riesinger (President of the North Dakota Airport Association), Erich Schock (Ashley Airport Board Member), and Kyle Wanner (Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission)

    In 2023, Ashley Municipal Airport (KASY) received a highly competitive Airport Terminal Program (ATP) grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to construct a new terminal building. This terminal will be a public building and will provide pilots and passengers with restrooms and a convenient space to rest and prepare for flights. Ashley Municipal joined the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems in 2017, making them eligible for federal funding. Since then, Ashley has made significant improvements to the airport which includes rehabilitation of all airfield pavements and the installation of a new lighting system. This past year, Ashley also became the first airport in North Dakota to install and join the FAA’s Weather Camera program. These four cameras are pointed in separate directions, and constantly update with new photos every few minutes, giving pilots an excellent live view of the current weather conditions at the airport.

    Ashley Municipal also excelled over the past years in community outreach. The airport consistently works with the Ashley Medical Center and assists in coordinating flights for passengers to ensure both flights and ambulances work to make transportation as quick and efficient as possible. The airport is also currently developing instrument approach procedures, which guide and allow medical flights to land at the airport during inclement weather. The airport also regularly meets with city and county officials to educate and inform the public on the impacts and value that the airport brings to the Ashley area.

  • May 15, 2024 13:28 | Anonymous

    The Devils Lake Regional Airport receives the 2023 Commercial Service Airport of the Year award during the North Dakota Aviation Association's FLY-ND Conference awards banquet on March 5th, 2024. Pictured from left to right is Ryan Riesinger (President of the North Dakota Airport Association), Scott Cruse (DVL Airport Manager), Dennis Olson (Chair of the DVL Airport Authority), Rodger Haugen (Member of the DVL Airport Authority, and Kyle Wanner (Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission)

    The Devils Lake Regional Airport (KDVL) is proud of their involvement with the local community. The airport has initiated a marketing program called Jet Service, which educates travelers on the benefits that the Devils Lake Regional Airport and SkyWest Airlines have to offer.

    As a result, the Devils Lake Regional Airport has seen tremendous growth in passenger traffic throughout the past year. The airport reached a record total of 8,087 enplanements for calendar year 2023, which is a 17.5% increase from 2022. This growth is great news for the airport and could lead to increased infrastructure funding from the FAA, which in turn will help fuel continued growth and beautification of the airport.

    The airport has also seen growth in the General Aviation sector. Five aeronautical businesses are present on the airport, with a sixth planning to open soon. These businesses have added more employees and two new General Aviation hangars have been constructed, due to the demand for growth.

    Devils Lake is currently in the process to expand and remodel their commercial terminal. The new building will double the size of the current space and will also include the installation of a jet bridge. The new space will allow the airport to accommodate larger waiting areas for passengers, new restrooms, vending areas, and nursing/changing rooms for mothers. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) area will also expand, allowing room for new screening technology which will decrease security wait times. The airport also recently reconstructed a large portion of the General Aviation apron. This project repaired a variety of age-related issues affecting the pavements and has enhanced safety for the flying public.

  • May 15, 2024 13:24 | Anonymous

    Thirty-two schools will receive $13.5 million in grants from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to help attract and train students for careers as pilots and aviation maintenance technicians. 

    Twelve of the schools will receive $4.5 million from the FAA’s Aircraft Pilots Aviation Workforce Development Grants program. The schools can use the funding to create and deliver curriculums designed to prepare high school students to become pilots, aerospace engineers or drone operators. Grants may also be used to support the professional development of teachers.

    Grant recipients include: 

    Beaufort County Schools, Washington, N.C.: $374,930 

    Elizabeth City State University, Elizabeth City, N.C.: $393,142 

    Fox Valley Lutheran High School, Appleton, Wisc.: $27,800 

    Georgetown Independent School District, Georgetown, Texas: $462,208.95 

    Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Harrisburg, Pa: $169,692.58 

    Iowa Lakes Community College, Estherville, Iowa: $493.,657 

    Kent State University, Kent, Ohio: $419,708.47 

    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.: $476,643 

    Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio: $346,400 

    Pacific Aviation Northwest, Inc., Grant Pass, Ore.: $500,000 

    Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind.: $500,000 

    University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, Md.: $335,818  

    The other $9 million will go to 20 schools as part of the FAA’s Aviation Maintenance Technical Workers Workforce Development program. These grants will help build back the pipeline of maintenance professionals; approximately 20,000 fewer people are working in the aircraft maintenance sector than before the pandemic. 

    Grant recipients include: 

    AAR Aircraft Services, Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla.: $500,000 

    Aersale, Inc., Coral Gables, Fla.: $400,000 

    Alabama Aerospace and Aviation High School, Bessemer, Ala.: $398,375 

    Central Louisiana Technical Community College, Alexandria, La..: $500,000 

    Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Cincinnati, Ohio: $493,277 

    Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.: $497,317

    Conway School District, Conway, N.H.: $301,129 

    DFC, Inc., Woodland, Calif.: $500,000 

    Houston Community College System, Houston, Texas: $402,284 

    Indian Hills Community College, Ottumwa, Iowa: $302,816

    Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs, Iowa.: $500,000 

    Joby Elevate, Inc., Santa Cruz, Calif.: $500,000 

    Kenton County Airport Board, Hebron, Ky.: $479,000

    Lewis University, Romeoville, Ill.: $496,016

    Maysville Community and Technical College, Maysville, Ky.: $500,000

    North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton, N.D.: $307, 608

    O.S. Johnson Technical Institute, Scranton, Pa.: $423,754

    San Bernardino Valley College, San Bernardino, Calif.: $498,555

    Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn.: $500,000

    Thomas University, Thomasville, Ga.: $499,869

    Recipients can use the funding to establish new educational programs; provide scholarships or apprenticeships; conduct outreach about careers in the aviation maintenance industry; and support educational opportunities related to aviation maintenance in economically disadvantaged areas.  

    Visit the FAA website for additional details about the grant recipients. 

  • May 15, 2024 13:15 | Anonymous

    On a regular basis, I am asked about opportunities to assist in training costs for students pursuing aviation training. The opportunities for financial assistance have increased significantly over the last few years, and I would like to share some tips for those looking for funding. 

    First, always consider your search for scholarships to be a job. In order to receive a scholarship, you will have to put in some time and effort. Many times, finding the opportunities takes the most time, but remember that you will likely need to complete an essay, answer some basic questions, and provide some additional information such as transcripts or letters of recommendation. Much like a job, the more time and effort you put into the process, the more likely you are to receive the awards. It may be helpful to create a spreadsheet of scholarships, deadlines, and requirements to keep you on track. 

    Next, your search for funds will become easier as your end goal is defined. For instance, if you know you want to be an airline pilot, you may look into programs offered by each of the airlines. Programs such as Delta’s Propel Pilot Career Path may help you get to your end goal quicker and easier, but may not always offer formal financial assistance. Consider all of your options. If you know what school you would like to attend or what potential employers you would like to work for, those entities may offer financial assistance. Also consider non-aviation related entities for opportunities for financial assistance. Local coops and large corporations offer a variety of scholarships for being leaders in your community. Consider all of your options. 

    Finally, consider all of the traits that set you apart from your peers and remember to include those items on your application. Have you been in the National Honor Society, volunteered at your church, or received other awards or honors? Remember to include these items on your scholarship application. It may also be helpful to assist those writing you a letter of recommendation by providing a list of traits they may be able to highlight for you. 

    I believe one of the most important steps in the application process is to be sure to complete the entire application. If they ask for a transcript, remember to include it. If the application includes essay questions, always stay within their maximum word limit, and be sure to answer every question. Applicants need to sell themselves to shine above other applicants; many times your application will be thrown out for skipping even one question on the application. 

    So the million dollar question: Where can I apply for these scholarships?

    While it would be impossible to list ALL scholarships, here are some of the groups I always recommend searching while looking for scholarships.

    If ever you are looking for assistance finding scholarship opportunities, don’t hesitate to reach out. After learning your situation, I may be able to help guide you in the right direction.

  • May 08, 2024 13:02 | Anonymous

    After ten long years, the 2024 North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) Fly-ND Conference returned to Grand Forks, ND. This year’s conference was a great success, with more than 300 attendees, 37 exhibitors, and nearly 40 first-time attendees – the most first-time attendees we’ve ever had – all coming together to celebrate the rich aviation culture of North Dakota.

     Themed “Beyond the Horizon,” the Conference took a look into the challenges and opportunities our industry is facing and how it is set to evolve in the future. What changed in the decade since the Fly-ND Conference had been to Grand Forks? Well, a lot – and conference attendees had the unique opportunity to see this firsthand, with guided tours of the Cirrus Aircraft facility and Grand Sky, the nation’s first commercial Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) business and aviation park, located adjacent to the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Grand Sky is home to a host of world-renowned aviation industry leaders, including General Atomics Aeronautical, Northrop Grumman, and the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, and it provides tenants with the ability to conduct large-scale beyond visual line-of-sight flights. Conference attendees were surprised to learn about this new era of aviation and technology and that North Dakota is at the forefront of this emerging technology integration.

     At the Opening Social, attendees had the opportunity to tour the University of North Dakota (UND) Aerospace facility and experience its flight simulators, altitude chamber, and spatial disorientation trainer. That evening, five individuals were also recognized and celebrated for their Gold Level achievement in the North Dakota Airport Passport Program. Congratulations to Jim O’Day, Nathan Sayler, Rodger Haugen, Connie Hanson, and Ray Brooks!

     In addition to the educational and informative breakout sessions for pilots, mechanics, and airport administrators, two general session panel discussions sparked great conversations and questions among attendees. UND Aerospace shared its experiences transitioning its fleet to UL94 (unleaded aviation gasoline), and a panel of UAS industry stakeholders discussed how collaboration between government and industry is transforming aviation for the safe and efficient integration of UAS.

     We capped off the 2024 Fly-ND Conference with the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet, celebrating Dan Kasowski’s induction into the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame, as well as recognizing the Devils Lake Regional Airport and Ashley Municipal Airport for receiving the 2023 Airports of the Year Awards! A special thank you to the Red River High School JROTC for the color guard presentation and to Nate Hance and NDAA Board Members Darren Hall and Devin Cole for the awesome live music performance that evening.

     The 2024 Fly-ND Conference was a great success because of you, the attendees, the sponsors, and the exhibitors. We sincerely thank all of you for your continued support and participation in our NDAA events, and a special thank you to our 2024 Fly-ND Conference Site Committee Members for all your efforts! 

    Join us next year in Fargo, ND, at the Delta Hotel for the 2025 Fly-ND Conference, from Sunday, March 2 to Tuesday, March 4, 2025.

     Are you interested in helping plan next year’s conference or other NDAA events? Please reach out: we’re always looking for new ideas! Please contact us for more information, please email  

    Tanner Overland, NDAA Chairman

  • May 01, 2024 14:25 | Anonymous

    Earlier this year, I was able to participate in the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) Legislative Conference in Washington D.C., which brought together representatives from twenty-five states. Among the distinguished guests were FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker, Congressman Rick Larsen (WA), FAA Associate Administrator for Airports Shannetta Griffin, congressional staffers, and delegates from major aviation associations.

    Our discussions centered on critical aviation policy issues, with a focus on enhancing air service to small communities through collaborative efforts between the FAA, states, and local municipalities. Valuable insights were shared regarding the FAA reauthorization bill and updates were provided on key activities within the FAA Office of Airports.

    The concerns voiced by the states reflected a shared commitment to advancing common priorities in federal reauthorization legislation. These priorities include (but not limited to):

    • Ensuring robust aviation funding and modernizing the non-primary entitlement program.
    • Providing federal support for the transition to florine free firefighting foam at airports.
    • Enhancing weather observation resiliency and redundancy.
    • Preparing for the integration of uncrewed aircraft systems & advanced air mobility into the airspace.
    • Safeguarding air service to small communities.
    • Improving the timeliness of FAA issuance of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants.

    NASAO's State Members pictured with the Honorable Michael Whitaker (Administrator of the FAA) at NASAO's 2024 Washington Conference (Photo by Daniel Stanley).

    For additional details on all national priorities advocated by the states, please visit the NASAO website at 

    The main concern that has been shared across the states is that FAA Reauthorization is currently “stuck” in continuing resolutions, with funding approved for only a few months at a time. This poses a significant challenge for the upcoming 2024 construction cycle as the absence of a fully funded FAA program until at least the end of the current federal fiscal year hinders the FAA’s ability to proceed with its full program. In states like North Dakota with short construction cycles and contractors with busy schedules; the delay in project funding undoubtedly poses additional challenges. Congress has until May 10th before the current extension expires, and we urge Congress to prioritize the passage of a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill and work to provide the FAA with the resources needed to maintain and modernize our aviation system.

    Additionally, states have shared concerns with the complexity of the federal programs and variety of funding programs.  Since 2020, airport projects have had to navigate through various funding mechanisms outside of the Airport Improvement Program. The acronyms for these various programs includes: CARES, CARESA, ARPA, BIL AIG, BIL ATP, BIL FCT, and Supplemental AIP.  While the additional funding has been beneficial, the complex funding environment has presented significant challenges due to differing criteria, application deadlines, and eligibility requirements. Moreover, high project costs have necessitated multiple federal grants being required from different programs for the exact same project.  This has required each project to be split into identifiable usable units of work and results in additional grant management requirements.

    It is imperative that our nation returns to a framework where the Airport Improvement Program serves as the primary funding source that is adequately funded, timely, and aligned with the evolving needs of the aviation industry. 

    Additionally, there is unanimous agreement among states on the need to simplify and streamline the allocation of federal funding for airport projects. Sometimes, simplicity itself proves to be a bold and effective solution.

  • May 01, 2024 14:06 | Anonymous


    Summer is right around the corner, and the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) is gearing up for another Fly-ND Summerfest! What is Fly-ND Summerfest? Fly-ND Summerfest is an annual NDAA event with a simple goal and a significant purpose: to celebrate summer and celebrate aviation, while raising scholarship funds for North Dakota high school students looking to begin their careers in the aviation industry. This years’ NDAA Fly-ND Summerfest will take place in conjunction with the Airports Association of North Dakota (AAND) Summer Meeting at the Woodland Resort in Devils Lake, ND, on August 7-8, 2024. 

    One of the items on the agenda for the NDAA’s Summer Meeting will be a discussion on the proposed updates to our organization’s bylaws, as well as an organizational update and information on our future events. Be sure to save the date and plan to join us for great food, outdoor fun, and networking – all while celebrating summer and celebrating aviation! Stay tuned to our website,, for additional information and event registration coming later this spring! In the meantime, if you have any questions, please email

  • February 29, 2024 13:28 | Anonymous

    Submitted Photo U.S. Air Force Capt. Matthew Weaver, 54th Helicopter Squadron (HS) aircraft commander, left, and Senior Airman Daniel Barker, 54th HS special missions aviator instructor, pose at Minot Air Force Base on Dec. 20, 2023. Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kyle Wilson.

    By Airman 1st Class Kyle Wilson, 5th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

    MINOT AIR FORCE BASE – Minot Air Force Base hosts several tenant units that are critical to the success of its mission. These units all play a role in Minot Air Force Base’s daily operations and provide unique capabilities to the skill set. The 54th Helicopter Squadron (HS) is one of these units.

    The 54th HS is a geographically separated unit from the 582nd Helicopter Group, headquartered at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming. Since 1993, the 54th HS has been assigned to Minot AFB where it provides helicopter response capabilities in support of 91st Missile Wing operations.

    The support the 54th HS provides to the 91st Missile Wing (MW) includes contributing rapid security response capabilities to Minot’s missile fields, providing overwatch security during convoy operations, as well as executing search and rescue and medical evacuation operations.

    “The primary mission of the 54th HS is nuclear deterrence and nuclear surety,” said Capt. Matthew Weaver, 54th Helicopter Squadron aircraft commander. “We’re heavily involved with the 91st MW and supporting their mission.”

    “We provide a skill set and dynamic support that only helicopters can provide,”

     – Senior Airman Daniel Barker 54th HSspecial missions aviator instructor.

    The 54th also integrates with Security Forces units on the ground to provide comprehensive security throughout Minot missile fields, which cover approximately 8,500 square miles of North Dakota. This includes Tactical Response Force, Convoy Response Force and in-field Security Forces teams.

    “The TRF, CRF and in-field Security Forces teams all have Forward Observers out in the missile fields that communicate directly with us,” said Barker.

    “The assets that we control here are extremely important to defend,” said Weaver. “If anyone was to try to gain access to those, we’re going to respond as quickly as possible.”

    The 54th HS currently employs the UH-1N Iroquois as its primary aircraft in daily operations. The UH-1N Iroquois, however, is slated to be replaced in the coming years by the MH-139 Gray Wolf.

    “The UH-1N is a very reliable aircraft and it’s worked well for our mission set,” said Barker. “In the next few years, we’re switching to the MH-139, which is going to enhance our capabilities into the far future.”

    Reprinted with permission from The Minot Daily News

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