Log in

Log in
  • March 16, 2022 12:58 | Anonymous

    Vantis is North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone, network. So far the state of North Dakota has invested $48 million to create and build out Vantis, aiming to enable safe, reliable, and economically-viable UAS flights across the entire state. Making UAS flights like this commonplace requires the ability to fly BVLOS, or beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot. This is why we need Vantis. 

    Why Vantis is a Game-Changer  

    Currently, UAS pilots are required to keep UAS they are flying within their visual line of sight unless they have a special waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing them to use “daisy-chain” visual observers or some other mitigation to ensure safe control of the aircraft. 

    This barrier is what prevents wide-spread package or medication deliveries, road and infrastructure inspections, large-scale precision agriculture, and large-scale search and rescue efforts using UAS. It’s incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to execute a UAS operation within the space of a half-mile only to pack up, move a half-mile down the road, and continue. It also restricts UAS to following ground infrastructure, rather than as-the-crow-flies. 

    But getting an individual waiver for BVLOS flights is also incredibly difficult – it requires a significant investment of time and resources – and it doesn’t make sense. Every UAS operator getting their own BVLOS waiver is like every truck company building its own roads. Vantis is a state-funded, common infrastructure that will be accessible to all UAS pilots with UAS that meet the minimum requirements – just like with vehicles on toll roads. 

    Enabling BVLOS flights for multiple users on a single network across the entire state of North Dakota means all of the use cases mentioned above – package delivery, infrastructure inspections, search and rescue efforts, etc. – will become commonplace. Vantis will be a blueprint for other states to follow, dramatically changing what is possible with UAS. After all, the people who built the first roads for Model Ts could never have predicted something like a Tesla. 

    Where We’ve Been

    Since the initial investment in May 2019, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), which administers Vantis, has worked with aviation giants Collins Aerospace, L3Harris Technologies, and Thales USA as system engineers and integrators to develop the technology necessary to make Vantis possible. Vantis uses ground-based infrastructure in the form of radars, radios, and communications equipment attached to towers – the coverage area of these technologies overlap, creating a coverage area much like a cellphone network. This technology was installed at key sites in Williams and McKenzie Counties on the western side of the state in the Bakken formation, where energy-related use-cases are abundant. 

    In addition to ground-based infrastructure, Vantis uses the state’s fiber optic network to connect to the Mission and Network Operations Center (MNOC). The MNOC is housed at Grand Sky, the nation’s first commercial UAS business and aviation park, which is located at Grand Forks Air Force Base. 

    We have completed our first increment of developmental and operational testing, which ensures that all of the different technologies involved in Vantis are working as expected with a variety of both manned and unmanned aircraft. Most of this testing has been conducted in partnership with uAvionix and Overland Aviation, though at the time of this writing we also have released an RFP soliciting additional UAS to assist in our rigorous testing processes. 

    In October 2021, we down-selected to Thales as our primary system integrator and partner in this endeavor as we move forward towards approvals, first official flights, and new locations. 

    Where We’re Going

    The Red River Valley will host the next Vantis sites. Our strategy in selecting locations has been to go where UAS use-cases already exist, so that once testing and approvals are finalized, flights can begin immediately. The Red River Valley is a region with extensive agricultural use-cases and is also home to two of the largest cities in the state. Thanks to the University of North Dakota (UND) and North Dakota State University (NDSU), there are also a number of UAS operators, researchers, and businesses in this area. 

    The Vantis team, including representatives from NPUASTS and Thales, have already begun reaching out to local leaders and scouting locations for the ground-based infrastructure. In Williams and McKenzie counties, we were able to use North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) towers for most of the technology installations. This will be the goal in the Red River Valley as well – using existing infrastructure saves taxpayer money and allows us to move more quickly in implementation. We expect installations to begin by early spring. 

    Our goal has always been to enable BVLOS flights without negatively affecting manned aviation, and we continue to pursue that goal as we build out Vantis. UAS on Vantis will always give way to manned aircraft, and we take responsibility for seeing and avoiding manned aircraft as well as other obstacles. Outreach in the Red River Valley will include meetings with manned pilots, just like we did in Williams and McKenzie counties, to answer questions, address concerns, and listen to feedback to ensure that the integration of UAS into National Airspace System is as seamless as possible. 

    Out West, we will be finalizing operational testing and working with the FAA in order to get approvals for BVLOS flights on Vantis. By proving that Vantis is a safe and reliable system, we’re also helping the FAA establish criteria for similar technologies in the future. Once we are approved, pilots will have an expedited path to fly BVLOS, leveraging Vantis’ approval and extensive safety testing process. We expect first official flights – true BVLOS flights – in the coming months. 

    Vantis will be available for research and testing, use by public and state agencies, and for commercial operations, providing North Dakotans with the unprecedented benefits of widespread UAS use. Package delivery at your doorstep is only the beginning. With Vantis, the sky is the limit. 

  • March 16, 2022 12:53 | Anonymous

    By Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D. 

    In 1910, Archie Hoxsey, who flew for the Wright Brothers, performed at the Grand Forks Fairgrounds. The special air performance was highly advertised. The Grand Forks Daily Herald proclaimed, “Don’t miss the Aeroplane. The most thrilling and sensational marvel of the age…flights diving from dizzy heights to depths below, mounting majestically to the clouds, death defying but delightful. First and only opportunity to see this greatest of all thrillers in the Northwest.” Wow, pretty compelling copy. North Dakota residents showed up, with over 17,000 attending the performance. 

    But wait! There is even more. A “lucky” Grand Forks citizen won a free demonstration flight in the aeroplane with sky star, Hoxsey. The Grand Forks postmaster, Frank V. Kent, was the winner. Grand Forks earned more firsts because the night flight was the first in the nation with a passenger. This flight was the first under a searchlight. Shrieks and gasps were heard from the crowd. Passenger Kent reported it as the thrill of a lifetime. He was now ready to buy his own airplane! 

    Fast forward over 105 years, Grand Forks was still making aviation history. In celebration of Women’s History Month, an entire crew of U.S. Air Force women, dubbed Lady Hawk, set a world-aviation record. This all-female Air Force crew flew the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk-RQ-4 a record-setting 34.3 hours, nonstop back and forth across North Dakota. The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft. Global Hawks are newer than the Lockheed U-2 with a similar mission. The Global Hawk has a wingspan of 130 feet, equivalent to the size of a Boeing 707 airliner. 

    This stellar team was led by Lt. Col. Amanda Brandt, along with Lt. Col. Catherine Todd, Maj. Mary Marshall, Capt. Natalie Winkels, 1st Lt. Joli Chaisson, and 2nd Lt. Kourtney Kugler piloted the RQ-4. In addition to the six women pilots managing the remote flight, more than 50 support staff and ground crew were also women. According to Lt. Col. Brandt, what differentiates this particular record from others like it, is that all of the women pilots included in the mission came from the same squadron. 

    Historically, groups have had to reach out to other squadrons or units to get enough women together to achieve a record. And while Lt. Col. Brandt is proud of the Lady Hawk record-breaking flight, she also hopes that one day all-female feats will no longer be historic, but a regular occurrence. Amen, sister!

    The newer technology in the Global Hawk uses high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) combined with long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors. Star Wars over North Dakota. The Global Hawk crew from Grand Forks surveys as much as 40,000 square miles of ground terrain in a single day, comparable to the size of the nation of South Korea. The obvious intelligence collection capability to support military forces worldwide from the Grand Forks Air Force Base is key in our national defense. 

    In 2015, the mayor of Grand Forks declared a “Grand Forks Celebrates Lady Hawk Day.” In 1955, the Grand Forks Air Force Base was established. By January 1957, it was opened and named after the city of Grand Forks. North Dakota has always been a leader in aviation and innovation. 

    Air Force members of the 348th Reconnaissance Squadron and 319th Air Base Wing in Grand Forks, North Dakota, set a new record for the longest flight by a military aircraft without air refueling. On March 29, 2014, they broke the old record with their RQ-4 Global Hawk remaining aloft for 34.3 hours. The entire flight and ground crews were female. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney)

    Dr. Hamilton is a Laureate of the Colorado Aviation, Colorado Authors’, and Colorado Women’s Halls of Fame. Read about her aviation history books at 

  • March 16, 2022 12:50 | Anonymous

    Exploring North Dakota Airports

    Looking for a fun place to visit this winter? Check out historic Grafton, ND! 

    The airport is less than five minutes east of downtown Grafton. The North Dakota airport passport stamp can be found inside the GA Terminal building.

    Here are a few local attractions to explore:

    Heritage Village and Jugville Museum

    A collection of historic buildings and artifacts gathered to re-create life in the past. Special attractions include a furnished farmhouse, farm buildings, a country church, log cabin, depot with caboose, taxidermy shop and a working 1918-model carousel.

    For hours, address, and more, contact 701-360-0088.

     or 701-352-3280.

    Historic Elmwood House

    Historic Elmwood is a 20-acre parcel of land located in an oxbow of the Park River in northeast Grafton. Seven acres are protected in the Natural Area Registry as an example of river bottom forest. About 10 acres are wooded or former fields no longer considered a natural area but containing wild flowers, plants and animal life. On three acres is a beautiful turn-of-the-century Victorian home that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The front doors and banister are oak, the fireplace is maple and remaining woodwork is pine painted to resemble either oak or maple, a technique common in the Victorian era.

    For hours, address, and more, contact 701-352-1842 or 

    (701) 352-0152.

    If you work up an appetite while exploring Grafton, here are a few dining recommendations:

    Cabin Road Coffeehouse 

    The coffee is always served hot, but the menu changes every day. “As if you showed up at your friend’s cabin and your friend had something baking in the oven and asked you to stay for a cup of coffee.”

    Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 7am to 2pm

    Address: 24 E 5th St, Grafton, ND 58237


    Granny’s Family Restaurant 

    A sit-down diner with a wide variety of food. 

    Hours: Mon-Sat, 6am to 8pm, Sun, 8am to 8pm

    Address: 910 W 12th St, Grafton, ND 58237

    For more information, call (701) 352-2674

    Please visit these locations’ websites or call to confirm hours and availability. 

    Do you have a favorite attraction to explore or a dining recommendation at your North Dakota airport to share with our readers? Submit your discoveries to  

  • March 09, 2022 11:34 | Anonymous

    By Jill Schramm/MDN Reprinted with permission from The Minot Daily News

    Minot’s new airport director said she wants to use her diverse experiences in aviation management to enhance the activity at Minot International Airport.

    Jennifer Eckman stepped into her new position Oct. 4.

    She previously had served since January 2019 as project manager of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aviation Systems Test Site in Grand Forks. Working in the drone industry in Grand Forks exposed her to a different world of aviation.

    “The concepts and the technologies that enable flying a drone were all pretty new to me. There’s a whole new list of acronyms I had to learn, which in the world of aviation, that’s amazing that there were more acronyms,” she laughed. “I’m hoping with my connections with the Northern Plains that we can bring some of those technologies that I was working on here to this airport.”

    She said there are areas on airport property suitable for growing a UAS business.

    “Actually, we have some of the infrastructure already, where certain types of drones we could already handle,” she said.

    Eckman sees potential for more robust industrial or commercial operations at the airfield. She would like to be involved in diversifying the businesses and opportunities at the airport as well as in developing the airline services and increasing passenger traffic as COVID-19 concerns ease.

    “Obviously, the passenger ridership has been down, but we’re starting to see us come back to the 2019 numbers — slowly, but we’re hoping to get there. With the borders opening soon, I’m hoping and anticipating that we might be getting close to what we were in 2019 by the end of the year,” Eckman said.

    She added that airlines have been maintaining their flights and plan to add a few additional flights over the holidays.

    Eckman said she’s optimistic about the aviation industry, having witnessed its resiliency in the rebound from the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the Y2K transition to a new century in the year 2000.

    A Bismarck native, Eckman said she grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Her career goal adjusted after enrolling in the University of North Dakota’s aviation program.

    “I really enjoyed my airport management classes, and I switched degrees to airport management,” she said.

    She did get a private pilot’s license, although she hasn’t done much flying.“My passion is more in the airport management side,” she said.

    It was that passion that drew her to Minot.

    “I loved my job at the Northern Plains, but I really missed airports. I’ve been working in airports for almost 20 years,” Eckman said. “I have a diverse knowledge of different airports and how they run because I’ve worked at quite a few of them, from interning at something as large as Minneapolis/St. Paul to a smaller airport like Jamestown, North Dakota.”

    She previously had been airport manager in Jamestown, the deputy airport director for finance and administration in Rapid City, S.D., and the airport administrative assistant and airport real estate specialist at Paine Field/Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington.

    Eckman earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a major in airport management, from UND in May 1999 and a master’s of fine arts from California State University-Long Beach in May 2004. She is working toward a master’s in business administration. She also has completed the Accredited Airport Executive program.

    Her husband, a contractor with Boeing, and children will be moving from Grand Forks to Minot later this year when an opportune time in the school year presents itself. The family enjoys biking and hiking and looks forward to getting outdoors in Minot.

    Eckman also expects to be busy on airport projects that require attention, whether it is preparing for winter snow removal or next year’s wetland mitigation projects.

    Her initial weeks on the job have been spent getting to know the airport’s personnel and tenants. Eckman said the chance to work in a beautiful terminal with a great staff has made for a good start. “The team is really great at what they do, and I’m hoping to enhance it to the next level,” she said. “There’s some processes that I’ve seen implemented at other airports that I’m trying to implement here to get us to the next level, to be the best airport we can be.”

  • March 09, 2022 11:31 | Anonymous

    By Adam Dillin, C.M., A.C.E, Airport Planner, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission 

    A successful flight, and sometimes the very safety of crew and passengers, depends on pilots receiving timely information about any disruptive or hazardous circumstances at the airports they plan to use. This is typically accomplished through the issuance of the recently renamed Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs), formerly Notices to Airmen. As a fundamental part of their training, pilots are intensively drilled in the use of NOTAMs. However, for the benefit of any North Dakota airport staff that may not be familiar, this article may serve as a quick introduction.

    What is a NOTAM? 

    All public airports are required to promptly notify pilots when circumstances exist that may impact aircraft at or near their airfield. Common issues are runway closures, construction, wintry surface conditions, failed lighting, hazardous obstructions, and inoperative fuel systems. Issuing NOTAMs in a timely manner can help prevent accidents and legally protect the airport.

    What does a NOTAM look like? 

    The graphic in this article breaks down the components of a typical field condition NOTAM that an airport might issue to advise pilots of hazardous winter conditions. Please note that all NOTAM times are published in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also known as “Zulu.”

    Are there guides for NOTAMs? 

    NOTAMs are often complicated and loaded with acronyms and abbreviations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has some helpful references that can break down the details. A short primer is the NOTAM 101 presentation, found at the FAA’s NOTAM Modernization webpage at To dig into the many different terms and examples, visit  and search for Advisory Circular 150/5200-28F Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) for Airport Operators, the draft Advisory Circular 150/5200-28G, and Order 7930.2S CHG 2 Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM). Also available is the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), which features a handy summary in Section 5-1-3. If your airport isn’t sure if a situation warrants a NOTAM or doesn’t know how to write it up, you can always chat with a Leidos briefer for help (see below).

    How can my airport issue NOTAMs? 

    Getting a NOTAM out to pilots is quick and easy and can be done either online or via telephone. To submit online, airports utilize the FAA websites of either NOTAM Manager or ENOTAMS II. To issue a NOTAM via telephone, airport staff can call the Leidos Outage Reporting and Notice to Airmen Line at 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1-877-487-6867) and follow the prompts to speak with a live briefer. Once filed, it takes mere moments for the NOTAM to be published for pilots across the country and around the world. Please note that airport personnel must be officially registered and authorized before they are able to submit any NOTAMs for your facility.

    How do I register to file NOTAMs? To get registered as an authorized NOTAM issuer for your airfield, use the “New User Registration” link on the NOTAM Manager or ENOTAMS II websites. Or you can contact Leidos via phone at (817)541-3461.

    How do I check my airport’s NOTAMs? 

    It is a good idea to regularly check your airfield’s published NOTAMs to make sure that pilots are getting up-to-date conditions as well as to clear out old or incorrect information. To check your NOTAMs online, go to and simply enter your airport’s name or identifier.

    I hope this article has helped to provide some insights into the NOTAM system. And thank you to all the hard-working airport personnel around North Dakota that help to keep our airfields safe!

  • January 28, 2022 12:39 | Anonymous

    2x UH-72A Lakotas flight training in Helena, MT, May 2021

    Name, Branch, Rank

    My name is Caleb Hamilton, I am a Captain in the North Dakota Army National Guard and my branch is Aviation.


    My hometown is Sheridan, Wyoming

    Tell us about your job...

    I am a full time LUH72A Lakota Aviation Officer with North Dakota Army National Guard in Fargo, ND providing aviation coordination and support to Law Enforcement operations across North Central United States.

    How many years of service?

    I have just over 6 years of service. I joined the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2015 after graduating from NDSU. I have 2 years of service as an Enlisted Soldier with the Engineers as a 12W Carpenter; 4 years of Aviation service as a Commissioned Officer.

    What inspired you to join the Military?

    Family tradition of Military service was my initial inspiration for joining the Military and I wanted to be an Aviation Officer in either the Air Force or Army. Most of my family members who have served were enlisted and I wanted to be the first person to be an Officer. When I was younger, I always loved helping my Dad with his Army uniform and going with him to the Armory to see all of the cool Army equipment. So I decided to pursue the Military when I was in college and enlisted after graduating college.

    What is the most rewarding part of your job/time in the military?

    The most rewarding part of my job is working with helicopters on a weekly basis and flying missions in support of law enforcement and responding to state emergencies.

    Are you involved in the North Dakota aviation community outside of the military?

    Yes, I am involved in ND Aviation community outside of the Military. I recently joined the Fargo Jet Center flying club and am working on my airplane private pilot license with a goal to build further flight experience outside of the Military.

    What advice do you have for anyone interested in military aviation?

    Military Aviation is very rewarding and exciting! However, it requires more of a time commitment than other jobs in the Military due to maintaining flight proficiency on an almost weekly basis. Recruiters are the gate keepers to all Military jobs; they have resources and the availability to provide information to individuals interested in ND Aviation. The North Dakota National Guard website is also a fantastic resource for someone to begin their research.

    Hamilton next to a UH-72A Lakota, Fargo, ND. December 2021

    Hamilton by to a UH-60M Blackhawk, Ft. Rucker, AL. October 2018


  • January 28, 2022 12:33 | Anonymous

    Thousands of flights were canceled during the holiday rush in December. Though COVID was said to be the blame for many of the cancellations, the  root of the problem goes deeper. Where are all of the pilots? Having been predicted for many years, the pilot shortage is here, and has been amplified during the pandemic. 

    We have been working to increase interest in aviation careers for a number of years. Efforts have included developing our high school aviation programs (currently in six cities in North Dakota as well as distance education available to all schools), the aviation career expo and the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) Scholarship program to name just some of our efforts. Recently the NDAA and the University of North Dakota – Aerospace partnered on a grant proposal for an FAA Workforce Development Grant. This proposal was awarded in the amount of nearly $500,000 which will be used to create professional development opportunities for teachers in our region.

    Using grant funds, teachers will have the opportunity to attend professional development free of charge to learn more about opportunities for their students in aviation and aerospace. One of the professional development experiences will transport teachers, counselors and administrators  to a variety of locations throughout eastern North Dakota and Minnesota highlighting careers in the aviation industry. In addition to learning about the opportunities for their students, teachers will be introduced to lessons, and curriculum available to bring into their classrooms. Our goal is to find more ways to bring aviation education into classrooms around our state. These may be in the form of aviation courses at the high school level, or integrated lessons at the primary level. 

    In addition to a tour of all things aviation, another opportunity for teachers being developed is professional development focused on unmanned aircraft. Funding will be available for equipment for classrooms as well as training and testing costs for teachers to receive their remote pilot certificate. We hope to see schools bringing drone racing or other UAS competitions into their offering of extra curriculars. 

    We know that the industry has a need for pilots, mechanics, UAS operators, and many other areas of the industry. I know that we will be talking about this for years to come. My hope is that through partnerships like this bringing together the NDAA and UND Aerospace with FAA funding will bring students closer to the amazing opportunities available in our industry. 

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • January 28, 2022 12:21 | Anonymous

    This past fall, the North Dakota Legislative Assembly was called into special session and a part of their task was to determine how the state should utilize the Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that have been received. Approximately $1 billion in Federal Aid was appropriated and the final breakdown of these funds for use in North Dakota included: 56% for Infrastructure and Capital Projects, 37% for Workforce and Economic Development, and 7% for Health Care, Emergency Response, & Citizen Service Efficiency.

    Prior to the start of the special legislative session, the Airport Association of North Dakota and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) was able to proactively meet with state legislators and participate in the ARPA committee hearings to make the case that a portion of the funds should be considered for airport infrastructure funding. These efforts were met with success, as the final bill appropriated $5 million of the ARPA funds to the NDAC for the purpose of providing additional airport infrastructure grants in the coming years. These funds will be put to good use to help reduce the local financial burden on project costs, match federal grant dollars, and overall help multiple North Dakota communities move forward with high-priority airport projects.

    At the national level, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was also signed into law, which will provide an additional $3 billion per year, over the next five years, for eligible Airport Infrastructure Projects throughout the country. This will create new opportunities for additional federal funds to be leveraged to North Dakota projects. The NDAC is looking forward to working with the FAA and our 89 public-use airports to ensure that proactive and justified plans are in place to appropriately compete for these funds.This spring, our agency will also be providing the industry with a finalized Pavement Condition Index Study. This is a project that we conduct every three years, where the pavement sections at the public-use airports are analyzed, inventoried, and provided with a recommended maintenance or replacement plan. This information helps us to prioritize and plan the most cost-effective and appropriate timing of airport pavement maintenance and rehabilitation projects throughout the state. The newly announced federal and state funding programs will make this information even more valuable for our planning efforts, as our goal is to be prudent and make informed decisions when allocating grant funds. 

    As we continue our work to improve and ensure the safety of North Dakota’s airport infrastructure and airspace, feel free to contact the NDAC with any concerns, recommendations, or information that you may have to help provide us with a full understanding of the needs of the system. Smart investment decisions within our airports and communities will help to encourage growth opportunities and economic diversification while also helping North Dakota to strengthen its role within the energy and agricultural industries.

    Wishing you blue skies and tailwinds, 

    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • January 28, 2022 12:15 | Anonymous

    By Ryan Riesinger, President, Airport Association of North Dakota and  Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority

    2021 was a busy one for the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND). We kicked off the year with the North Dakota State Legislative Session, participated in the successful Fly-ND Conference virtually and the first annual Fly-ND Summerfest in Washburn, ND, and closed out the year with a win in the Special Session. I would like to highlight a few of these accomplishments.

    The AAND strategy going into the 2021 Legislative Session was to take a team approach and split up the responsibilities of tracking and testifying by bill. This worked well and resulted in the following for our state’s airports:

    Bills that PASSED

    Legacy Fund Infrastructure Loan Program and Bank of North Dakota Revolving Loan Fund: this bill will give airport authorities two additional financing tools for larger capital projects.

    Transportation Network Companies (TNCs): in this bill, airports will now be allowed to enter into agreements with TNCs at their airports.

    Airline Taxation Issue: this bill closed a loophole in the North Dakota Century Code, so that an airline must now pay a central assessed tax if they make a regularly scheduled landing.

    State Interoperability Radio Network: this bill allows airports to receive a discount for radios purchased on the new state radio system.

    Aeronautics Bill: we successfully supported the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission bill.

    Bill that was successfully DEFEATED

    Eminent Domain: this bill was defeated, which would have imposed numerous penalties on airports that use eminent domain to acquire land and would have restricted zoning changes.

    These were all significant accomplishments during the Session and I would like to thank all of the individuals who assisted in these efforts. A special thanks goes to Odney, our legislative consultant team.

    In March, the 2021 Fly-ND Conference was held virtually for the first time. It ran very smoothly and was a good opportunity to have speakers participate from other parts of the country. In August, we were able to get together in person at the first annual Fly-ND Summerfest in Washburn, ND. It included a golf tournament, with proceeds going to support youth aviation scholarships, and a wonderful dinner and presentation to honor 2021 North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame inductee, Bill Beeks. Feedback on the event was very positive and there are plans to keep it going annually and move around the state.

    With fall came the North Dakota Legislative Special Session to determine how to distribute up to $1 billion of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. This was a unique process, with Senate and House Appropriations Committees holding hearings and receiving testimony on nearly 200 proposals totaling $10 billion in requests. A coordinated effort with the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and strong assistance from Odney resulted in securing $5 million in funding for state airport grants.

    Yes, 2021 was busy! However, it  was not without its challenges. Mask mandates, potential vaccine mandates, workforce shortages, and air service concerns are on-going topics as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. But North Dakota airports are strong and brighter days are ahead.

    We look forward to seeing everyone in person at the 2022 Fly-ND Conference in Fargo, ND, at the Delta Hotel from March 6-8. Please note that when you register online for the conference, you will have an opportunity to sponsor the Jim Lawler Scholarship Endowment Fund. This is an awesome way to honor Jim and will establish a perpetual endowment in his memory. Those who sponsor will be recognized at the conference.

    Here’s to an incredible 2022! Keep ‘em flying.

    Ryan Riesinger, President, Airport Association of North Dakota and  Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority

  • January 28, 2022 12:05 | Anonymous

    Back in 2017, when I started flying in earnest again, it started with looking for an airplane. As I started my search for the right airplane, everyone that I solicited advice from all asked me the same question, “what’s your mission?”. I didn’t have a mission necessarily in mind, I just wanted to fly an airplane and have fun. I didn’t know that we needed a mission to buy and fly an airplane. Now that I’ve owned the plane for almost five years, I do understand the necessity of defining your mission to find the right airplane. We as pilots also tend to feel the need to have a mission for each flight. These often include getting to a meeting, going on vacation or away for the weekend, or some other purpose.

    I think we have to remember that one of our missions should be to have fun. To go for joy rides and remember that’s what most likely started most of our passions in aviation. As I think back on flights that I’ve done that have been for the sole mission of enjoyment, many fun memories come back. 

    Shortly after a big snow storm blew across North Dakota diagonally, my dad and I decided to go check out the remnants from above. We rented a 172 and flew up towards Lake Sakakawea. Once we got just past Beulah, we saw the definitive line of where the blizzard had stopped. I remember to this day how cool it was seeing the path of a blizzard from above, a white covered ground to one side, and brown prairie on the other. After we toured over the Lake a bit, we made a stop in Hazen and I showed my dad what small town FBO’s look like. As we jumped back in the plane for the rest of the flight, my dad grabbed out the catering for our journey, a package of strawberries he brought with for us to enjoy. A sweet ending to a great flight. 

    While in college at UND, my friends and I all returned home for a weekend. We decided to take a Saturday trip to Dickinson in the 172. Fun was our mission, but an added mission was to get Arctic Rolls from the Dairy Barn. My girlfriend also brought with one of her friends that had never been in a small plane before. A great way to introduce someone new to the world of general aviation. After a brief tour of the Enchanted Highway from above, we steered towards Dickinson and enjoyed  a few Arctic Rolls.

    Lastly, this past fall, my family and I jumped in our plane one Sunday afternoon and went out to do some sightseeing. I text my dad that we’d be coming up over the lake cabin soon to say “hi”. As we made a few circles over the cabin, my dad waved to us from the middle of the yard, while we rocked our wings back. Pete Weisbeck was enjoying the afternoon at the cabin with my dad and their friends, and text me the next day how good the flyover looked. Sadly, this was Pete’s last time at the cabin as he passed away a short few weeks later. After a few passes over the lake to check out the Salmon fishing report (lots of boats, and apparently some good fishing as well) I decided to check out the progress at the Hazen airport and the new runway with a flyover. 

    These are memories that will remain with me forever, and were born out of a desire to just have some fun. 

    Justin Weninger, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Associaton

Copyright © 2023 North Dakota Aviation Association

North Dakota Aviation Association

PO Box 627
Bismarck, ND 58502

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software