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  • February 08, 2021 14:08 | Anonymous

    Seventy-five years ago, in Fargo, ND, a U.S. Military war surplus property airplane auction was held at Hector Field. All 111 Fairchild PT-26 were sold. (Wikicommons photograph) 

    By Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D.

    Imagine it is 1946. North Dakota, as is the rest of America, is booming with Post-World War II prosperity. Returning GIs (WWII slang used by soldiers meaning “Government Issue”) trained at airports all across the state using their educational benefits. Dickinson’s Sax Aviation Company, Westhope Flying Service, and Rugby Airport (described as the geographic center of North America) advertised flight instruction in the new Dakota Flyer. In 1946, Hector Field hosted a Military surplus PT-26 auction drawing potential buyers from seventeen states. All 111 Fairchilds sold to eager buyers with the average selling price of $1,288, which is about $18,000 today. The average price of a new car back then was $800, with gas about 15 cents a gallon.

    The PT-26 was popular with pilots. This primary trainer was often the first plane our World War II pilots flew before moving on to other trainers. Along comes twenty-two year old Geneva Evelyn Schow from Mott, ND, who launches the brand new Dakota Flyer. Her purpose was to boost aviation in the Dakotas and benefit the flying fraternity with a monthly subscription publication about all things flying. 

    In November 1946, Geneva launched her Dakota Flyer. In the December issue, she printed some of the letters of congratulations about her new aviation publication. Geneva must have been thrilled when she opened the official looking letter from North Dakota Governor, Fred Aandal, congratulating Geneva on her first edition to promote aviation in the state and “further projects in which all air-minded people in North Dakota desire.” The letter did not indicate if the two dollar annual subscription was enclosed.

    In her first editions, Geneva wrote about Ms. Zona Brown, only 16 years old, becoming North Dakota’s youngest female pilot. Zona worked in stores “and saved every dollar for flying lessons and to buy her own airplane.” Zona was also writing “Hangar Chatter” for the Bowman County Pioneer. Geneva also wrote about Elgin High School student Darlene Levorson’s solo on October 13, 1946. Darlene dreamed of flying for the past six years. Jumping ahead to the August 1948 Dakota Flyer edition, Geneva wrote an update that now age 19, Darlene was a private pilot and University of North Dakota sophomore. 

    Seventy five years ago when Frank Sinatra was crooning “Five Minutes More” and Perry Como sang “Prisoner of Love,” Geneva’s Dakota Flyer continued covering the good news about aviation training, flyers, airports, and organizations such as Flying Farmers and the Civil Air Patrol. On July 9, 1948, Geveva married Todd Oleson. She continued her beloved Dakota Flyer. However, over time she turned it over to Carl T. Thompson. In January 1949, Thompson expanded the vision to promote aviation in the North Central States and changed the name of the iconic aviation newspaper to The Central Flyer. 

    Seventy-five years has flown by since Paris unveiled the bikini and World War II combat pilot, Jimmy Stewart, played George Bailey in the acclaimed movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” However, one constant is the enthusiasm for aviation in North Dakota remains strong. 

    Dr. Hamilton researches and writes about unique aviation history. Learn more 

  • February 08, 2021 14:06 | Anonymous

    By Rich Altendorf

    10-Nov.-20: NC13072, 4V4-47Y and return, 2.3 X/C Bill to Perham. 

    Tuesday, November 10, 2020: It was a casual conversation my Waco partner, Bill O’Keefe, and I were having as I returned him to Pelican Rapids, MN, after he had delivered his Great Lakes to my shop for a look over. Our conversation focused on taking our 1933 Waco Continental 670 biplane on a long cross country trip someday. It was a clear, warm afternoon. 

    On the solo flight home, my thoughts turned towards the weather. A small taste of winter had come and gone, and an unusually warm day was on the horizon. The old Waco just rumbled along toward home. I tried to think of a further destination. 

    My son, Mark, who was retired from the United States Marine Corps, and his wife, Chrystal, live in Fredericksburg, VA. Why not visit there? It had been a long time between visits! 

    That night, while watching Jimmy Stewart cross the Atlantic in the movie “The Spirit of St. Louis,” I plotted out a course. Northwood SE around Chicago; ESE to Fredericksburg. About 1,300 miles, three gas stops, one night each way, and a good forecast! Bill had borrowed me his iPad and I had all seven sectionals. 

    Wednesday, November 11, 2020: I kissed my wife goodbye, grabbed a change of clothes, a bottle of water, a box of cinnamon granola bars, and headed for the airport. 

    The Flight Service Station (FSS) reported a high pressure would follow me all the way. Clear, warm, and a tail wind with a 7-10 window. The only derogatory remark from the briefer was about how nice it was for old guys to be out flying. Apparently, I bracketed my age when I told him I wrote my private test at the old FSS at Grand Forks International Airport (GFK), upstairs with 360 degree observation windows. I topped everything off, threw a couple of extra gallons of oil in the back, and headed southeast. 

    I was past Fargo, ND, before I had the GPS up and running. Not bad, just a little off the magenta line. 3500 MSL, 105 IAS, 118 GS, clear and smooth. Life is good. Had a granola bar.

    Mankato, MN (MKT), came up as a good stop for gas. 33 gal. and 2 qts. Added to the ship gave me my fuel and oil burn check. A few streaks on the windscreen were normal for three hours. Let’s go. 

    Back on the magenta line, 3500 MSL, 105 IAS, 100 GS, clear and smooth. Next stop, Platteville, WI (PVB). Had another granola bar. Platteville was a quick turn, topped off with enough fuel to last until dark. Back on the magenta line. 3500 MSL, 105 IAS, 98 GS, clear and smooth. I’m in no hurry, anyway. 

    It was about the time I reached the 30 mile veil around Chicago that my preflight plan went astray. The screen I’d been following turned gray, announcing a dead battery. I quickly realized that all seven of my sectionals were in the back, and none had so much as a course line drawn in! That moment I knew I wasn’t lost, but I darn sure didn’t know where I was. Desperate minutes passed finding the bag. Bill had said something about spare batteries! Find the cord! Which one? Which end goes in? Light. It’s on! There again was the magenta guide, just in time to skirt the Chicago veil. I was humbled by the fact that all my trusty maps were sitting neglected in the back, but I found solace in the fact that I overcame this technological problem. 

    The little box showed 85 GS until I rounded the veil. With the shadows growing longer now and with a stiff tailwind, I headed east. Mishawaka, IN (3C1), was within reach, and a Waco Club friend of mine had offered to put me up if I ever came by. 

    I touched down on a smooth grass strip with the sun just on the horizon. After surprising Jon Nace, a well known Waco guy, with a phone call, I serviced the ship while he drove over. I parked in the grass next to his hangar. We spent a couple hours talking about his Waco parts. 

    He showed me a bunk and fridge and said goodbye. I dined on a granola bar and a couple of Bavarian Ales from his fridge, while I plotted lines on the remaining charts. 500 miles to go. I slept like a baby. 

    Thursday, November 13, 2020: The sky was full of stars when I left the hangar. The old ship sat patiently in the grass waiting for me. Not a cloud in the sky. One more gas stop and I’ll be there.

    The sunrise was awesome. I was glad I’d cleaned the oil off the windscreen. 3500 MSL, 105IAS, 122 GS, clear and smooth. This is fun. I think I’ll have a granola bar. 

    As my finger followed along the more familiar pencil mark, I noticed my path crossed over Wynkoop Airport (6G4), the location of the National Waco Club Fly-In. It was a good place for gas, so I stopped. Wynkoop Airport was built around 1918. I touched down on their grass and taxied back toward the hangars. 

    A sad sight greeted me. A storm had come through earlier, and the last original building had collapsed. Several wrecked aircraft lay about. The remaining hangar and fuel tank was right out of the 1930’s. A time capsule. Brain Wynkoop was the third generation owner and not quite as old as my Waco. As I serviced the ship, we talked about Wacos, life as an airport bum and the weather. His parting comment was that strong upper level west winds usually meant that the weather would sock in. Or maybe his bones just ached. I’m not sure. I thanked him and headed southeast. 250 miles to go. 3500 MSL, 105IAS, 122 GS, clear and smooth. 

    The terrain began to change now. Farmland, which had become increasingly more populated as I went east was disappearing, turning into an endless series of low, tree covered hills. The Appalachian Mountains began to appear on the horizon. 

    The Mississippi, Ohio, and Shenandoah Rivers were the most impressive sights to see. I thought about the early settlers and Grant and Lee duking it out; history I couldn’t imagine at home. 

    The Appalachians were here. Tops at 5500 MSL. I crossed at 5700, smooth as glass. What a view! 

    My destination was in sight now. Stafford Co. Airport (RMN), Fredericksburg, VA. My halfway point of the trip, and the Continental 670 hasn’t missed a beat. 

    My son, Mark, and his wife, Chrystal, met me at the airport. We tied the ship down and headed to their home. I had only told them yesterday I was coming and to tell the truth, we were all kind of amazed. 

    The rest of the day was spent fooling around, barbecuing the best steaks I’ve ever tasted, and talking til the wee hours of the morning. I trundled off to bed in a very fine mood, but with Mr. Wynkoop’s dire weather prediction on my mind.

    Friday, November 13, 2020: After watching the National Weather channel at breakfast, common sense and fear told me it was already time to go home. Growing up around airports as well as myself, Mark knew it had to be. Chrystal set me up with sandwiches and lemonade as I laid out my charts and plotted a return course. No more granola bars! The FSS gave me a good forecast to start out. Reluctantly, we all headed for the airport. A little after 1 p.m., with the Waco full of gas and oil, I fired it up and headed west. My reluctance disappeared as soon as my wheels left the ground. Flying is just too much fun. 

    Airborne again and climbing towards the Appalachians, 100IAS, 95 GS, clear and smooth. The mountains, foothills, and rivers were just as inspiring on the way home. Coal mines, barges, riverboats, and industry were amazing. Half a hoagie and some lemonade hit the spot. 

    East of the Appalachians, being back over flatter farmland was comforting but I never doubted the old Continental once. She just rumbled along 5500 MSL, 105IAS, 95-100 GS, clear and smooth. 

    A quick stop at Newark, OH (VTA), and I was off again. As the shadows stretched out, I skirted past Columbus, OH, and decided to stop at Maryville, OH (MRT). Only 350 miles out. The forecast weather was bad after Sunday at home and wind might be a problem along the way. 

  • February 08, 2021 14:04 | Anonymous

    By Dennis K. Johnson

    International Peace Garden Airport (S28) is one of six airports that straddle the United States/Canada border. At a few of these, the runway (often turf) is oriented along the border, so that one side is American soil and the other Canadian; you could land with one tire in each country.

    Although the runway at International Peace Garden Airport is entirely in the good ol’ USA, by about 125 feet, it has a taxiway and parking area that crosses the border, which makes for a unique way to drive into Canada.

    Each of these airports is located near border control posts, so they’re the place to land and pass through customs and immigration if making a flight to the land of hockey and maple syrup. Additionally, this airport makes for a great day-trip destination, as the International Peace Garden is just across the road. It’s certainly worth the flight to tiptoe through the tulips and enjoy a $100 hamburger.

    International Peace Garden

    The International Peace Garden was built along the United States/Canada border as “a memorial to the peace that has existed between the United States of America and the Dominion of Canada.” Construction started in 1932 on land donated by Manitoba and North Dakota, with some work completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Each year, the park plants more than 150,000 flowers and visitors can stroll through a sunken garden, formal garden, and nature conservatory. Other activities include hiking or biking wooded trails, or canoeing or kayaking on the lakes. Additional attractions include the Peace Chapel, the North American Game Warden’s Museum, and 9/11 Memorial. Afterward, enjoy the picnic areas and café. (The café is currently closed for the season.)

    IPG Airport (S28)

    The International Peace Garden Airport is located on the North Dakota/Manitoba border, 11 miles north of Dunseith, North Dakota. It’s not much—just a strip of pavement with no aviation services or fuel, only tiedown space. Bring your own tiedown straps and covers, and your passport. What it does offer is access to the International Peace Garden and customs/immigration services between Canada and the United States. Runway 11/29 is 3,005 feet by 60 feet of asphalt at an elevation of 2,315 feet msl.

    COVID 19 and Customs

    As of November 1, the Peace Garden is open, but the Canadian border is closed to Americans. Although no identification or procedures are needed to get into the Peace Garden from the United States or Canada, you’ll be wandering between the two countries during your visit and you’ll need proper identification upon leaving the garden to return to the United States. Preferred documents include a passport, Global Entry card or Nexus card (a driver’s license and birth certificate will work in a pinch), and for minors, their birth certificate. Check at the customs/border crossing office before going into the park to ensure there are no problems when returning. The park café is closed, so plan to bring your lunch and use the picnic areas.

  • February 08, 2021 14:03 | Anonymous

    By Joshua Simmers, Secretary/Treasurer, North Dakota Pilot’s Association

    I love a good book. Now, it doesn’t compete with a lived adventure, but I think it’s one good substitute. As each chapter closes, the page turns to endless possibilities. 

    This is the last submission on behalf of the North Dakota Pilot’s Association (NDPA). The NDPA Board has carried the wishes of the membership to the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) and has come to terms with high hopes of what the Association will offer; namely, a paid staff to coordinate meaningful value from membership. At the same rate, a greater body with which pilots can partner for fly-ins and safety seminars, and a managed scholarship fund.

    At future non-pandemic impacted conventions, pilots should see little change, as our required business agenda can now cut straight to armchair flying and friendly banter. 

    The estimated total of $12,100, NDPA’s projected remaining balance, will be donated to the FLY-ND scholarship fund for pilots. With continued donations, we can secure the minimum threshold to attain an annual $1,000 scholarship.

    The minimum endowment to have a perpetual $1,000 award is $30,000. Just to put our gas money where our propeller spins, the board and other involved members have committed to $2,500. The reality is that we need to raise about $15,000 to secure that perpetual scholarship. That’s a challenge to you. If those of us on the board, paying mortgages and raising kids, can commit, so can you. So join us at to get this scholarship fund underway. 

    The NDPA had a good run from its inception in 1984 until now. While it isn’t fun to be at the helm of a closure, the board and the membership at large see the benefit of a larger, more capable organization and implore you to bring your membership forward with us to the NDAA. Honestly, it’s the same book, just a new chapter. 

    Join us, it’s a formation flight. 

  • February 08, 2021 14:01 | Anonymous

    To contribute to the Jim Lawler Memorial Scholarship Fund, visit: The scholarship will be awarded to a student pursuing an airport management degree.

  • February 08, 2021 13:58 | Anonymous

    Justin’s senior photo, taken with the same plane in which Justin went flying with his grandpa

    My name is Justin Roger Ormiston. My middle name is after my Grandpa Roger, who dreamed of being a pilot as a boy. I was lucky enough to have been able to fly with him when I was younger. I have always wanted to be a pilot since I flew with him, and this is what sparked my passion for aviation.

    Justin flying with his Grandpa Roger

    When I was able to take hold of the airplane controls, it was an exhilarating experience. As I continued my flight training, the exhilaration never faded but I felt more confident with every flight. 

    The day I soloed was the most memorable part of my training so far. Going up all by myself was so exciting! The feeling of looking over and not seeing Ray, my instructor, in the passenger seat was surreal.

    My favorite sight when flying has been navigating between cloud layers and seeing the different cloud formations. My friends and family have been very encouraging and enjoy all the stories I tell about my flight experiences. 

    My dreams of being a pilot are becoming more attainable with every flight. With this scholarship from the North Dakota Pilots Association (NDPA), I am able to afford my pilot’s license before going to college. After I graduate, I plan to attend the Commercial Aviation program at the University of North Dakota. 

    I would like to thank the NDPA for giving me the opportunity to begin my aviation journey. 

    By Justin Ormiston, NDPA Flight Training Scholarship Recipient

  • February 08, 2021 13:56 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aviation Association needs your help. We are looking for volunteers to help with the inaugural Fly-ND Career Expo, held at the Fargo Air Museum. The event is the first of its kind in North Dakota with a mission to introduce and inspire high school senior high and college age students to the many careers available throughout the aviation industry. To learn more about the event please visit:

    We have separated the volunteer responsibilities into groups to make the most of your volunteer time. You can participate in as many as you’d like! Here are ways you can help…

    Outreach and Exhibitor Committee: This committee will be responsible for reaching out to potential exhibitors. We have a great list developed of people who may want to attend however, we need help in reaching out to these people to encourage them to participate. Remember, there is no fee to have a booth, so it’s not hard sales! Most of this committee’s work will be done in the planning part of this event.

    Onsite Logistics Committee: This committee will be responsible for helping coordinate onsite logistics at the event. Including, but not limited to, exhibitor set up, student attendees, and overall event setup. Most of this committee’s work will be done onsite at the event.

    Scholarship Committee: This committee will be responsible for soliciting sponsorship dollars from potential donors. In addition, this committee will review scholarship applicants and select scholarship winners.

    Finally, if you can’t help but would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please visit:

    The North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) has several opportunities for involvement. Volunteers are needed to support the 

    annual Fly-ND Conference (formerly the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium), the Career Expo, or any of our active committees. 

    In addition, if anyone is interested in serving on the NDAA Board of Directors, 

    please reach out to Mike or Stacy in the NDAA Central Office at or call 701.223.3184 to learn more.

  • February 08, 2021 13:53 | Anonymous

    An iconic feature found at many airfields since the earliest days of aviation, the humble windsock is without a doubt one of the most helpful tools available to pilots. It’s hard to imagine a simpler weather instrument, typically consisting of a brightly-colored fabric cone rotating about a pole. Yet it readily displays crucial wind information including direction, shifts, speed, and gusts. A smooth and safe takeoff or landing often hinges on how well this little piece of fabric does its job.

    Windsocks, also referred to as wind cones, fall under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design standards outlined in Advisory Circular150/5345-27 FAA Specification for Wind Cone Assemblies. While they are often sold in many different styles, the two sizes officially defined by the FAA are 8 feet and 12 feet long models. They can be constructed of cotton, synthetic, or a blend, must be water repellent, and come in colors of orange, yellow, or white. A windsock must be durable enough to withstand winds up to 75 knots and temperatures ranging from negative 67 degrees Fahrenheit up to 131 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to note that windsocks are required to drain properly, freely move in just a three knot wind, fully extend in a 15 knot wind, and accurately indicate wind direction within plus or minus five degrees. They may also be illuminated for nighttime operations, using internal fixtures or downward-facing spotlights.

    Airports should make a habit of frequently inspecting their windsocks. The fabric gradually fades over time and may become poorly visible, wear through, or tatter. They can snag and twist around mountings or vegetation. Poles can become tilted or bent, and lights will inevitably burn out. Proper drainage is essential, as storms can quickly fill windsocks with water, snow, or ice. This produces a telltale bulge in the fabric surrounding the frame and can add more than 10 pounds of weight to the windsock, reducing its accuracy or potentially even stopping its rotation. To prevent this, some windsocks are fabricated with built-in drain slits or grommets, and airport staff can easily install grommets onto non-equipped models. Care should be taken when installing a windsock to ensure the proper orientation of any drain slits or grommets, otherwise the drains will be rendered all but useless, as seen in this photo.

    The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) administers a state Windsock Program to help airports keep their windsocks in tip-top shape. Each public-use airport in North Dakota may request one free windsock from the NDAC in each calendar year. We also offer windsocks for sale, in sizes of 12 feet, 8 feet, 5 feet, and 4 feet, as well as a small selection of windsock frames. For more information, please visit our website at or call (701)328-9650. 

    Adam Dillin, Airport Planner

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission 

    701-328-9650 |

  • February 08, 2021 13:44 | Anonymous

    I’ve been flying and teaching in the Dakotas for more than 40 years. Overall, I’d say we have it pretty good here in the flatlands. However, a closer look at the national accident data tells a story that is cause for us flatlanders to pay attention. 

    Did you know that 79 percent of all Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents have had fatal outcomes? As pilots, we must rethink the dangers that lie below, as well as above. With such land features as the Turtle Mountains, the Killdeer Mountains, the Hogback Ridge area northeast of Bismarck, rising terrain as you head west towards Montana, and the buttes along the Badlands area, all give this “flatland” of ours an altitude change of more than 3000 feet from east to west. I think we can all agree that it’s not that flat out here, except perhaps in the Red River Valley. 

    I like to think of terrain as anything that might impede my direct-to flight path. It may be the rising terrain, towers, or mountains that could interfere with my flight. By National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) definition, “Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT): occurs when an airworthy aircraft under the complete control of the pilot is inadvertently flown into terrain, water, or an obstacle. The pilots are generally unaware of the danger until it is too late.” It would seem that lack of planning was a key element if it was “too late.” 

    Statewide, there are more than 1,500 registered communications towers, some like the KVLY towers near Grand Forks reach 2,063 feet in height above ground level (AGL). Of course, along with a tall tower are its support structures. Having a width or total support space of nearly a quarter of a mile allowing for guy wires, it is still the tallest radio tower in the nation. This is why planning for such obstacles reduces the risk to your flight. 

    Another obstacle we have here in the Dakotas are wind turbines, which account for more than 1,900 objects of conflict. Most are over 500 feet in height, located in multiple wind turbine farms across the state. All of these obstructions need to be considered as rising terrain and factored into our risk assessment as airmen.

    If you remember, each Visual Flight Rules (VFR) or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) chart has a Maximum Elevation Figure (MEF). This represents the highest elevation within a quadrant, including terrain and other vertical obstacles, such as towers or trees. A closer look at how that is reported goes like this: Tower, 2375 feet Mean Sea Level (MSL), possible vertical error plus 100 feet, obstacle allowance, add 200 feet, added all together you get a charting value of 2700 feet MSL. 

    Flight planning is a complex process over any flight path, even in the Dakotas. You must remain vigilant and avoid distractions involving unforecast low ceilings, fog, reduced visibility, snow, or smoke, just to name a few. All are contributing to our risk of getting to where we want to go. Just as the weather controls most of our go/no-go decision making process, so should the terrain along that route. Don’t let it be “too late” – instead, plan ahead.

    WINGS Proficiency Program is there for you! 

    Join us today! 

    For more reading on this topic, join us at “Avoiding Controlled Flight Into Terrain.” 

    Fly Safe! 

    Jay M. Flowers

    Aviation Safety, 

    National FAASTeam ASI, Operations

  • February 08, 2021 13:42 | Anonymous

    By Leisha Lunnie

    North Dakota breeds hearty stock. During the winter, we deal with the cold, wind, and ice as part of our daily life. At some point you may have heard someone say, “The cold keeps the riff raff out!” in response to North Dakota’s low crime rate. While that theory has not been statistically proven, a typical winter in our state is undeniably cold. Often with those frigid temperatures comes smooth air and clear skies, which are some of the best flying to be had. The sun is so bright it hurts your eyes, bouncing off the whiteness of the ground and everything sparkles; it truly is beautiful.

    As a teenage student pilot enjoying the comfort of climate-controlled heating in our home, I remember my dad, who was also my flight instructor, commenting on those beautiful winter days being perfect for flying. Deep down I knew he was right, but sometimes I just dreaded the words “cold and clear” because I knew it meant bundling up and being chilled for the next couple of hours. After a frigid pre-flight in the unheated hangar, I was usually ready to go warm up before we had even started the engine! Teens are notorious for taking the easy way out, so a cup of hot chocolate while watching a movie or meeting my friends at the local ski hill seemed like a better use of my Saturday afternoon than trying to keep my hands and feet warm in a drafty Cessna 150.

    But once you are airborne with that fantastic cold weather climb rate that seems to launch a little Cessna 150 into the air like a rocket, everything else falls away. The heat kicks in, the air is smooth and perfect for practicing maneuvers. One can wonder at how something as simple as snow cover makes everything look so different from the air, so perfectly serene.   

    Winter flying also includes winter weather gear and precautions to keep the pilot and passengers safe from the ever-possible engine failure and forced landing. If you were raised in the North, you were likely taught to always have winter gear in your vehicle from October to April. You know the drill: a blanket, boots, extra mittens or gloves, stocking hats, scarfs, a shovel, and of course a candle with matches. Flying in winter weather requires the same precautions. We may not need a shovel, but there are definitely some items required to keep an aviator safe from the elements. 

    If you’re a current flight student, you will learn all you need to know about winter pre-flights, snow and frost removal, watching for carburetor icing, and so forth from your Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). If you need a refresher, don’t be shy about asking to go over these things during your next flight review or simply schedule a lesson from your favorite CFI. 

    Until then, here are a few essential items you should always bring along on a winter flight: 

    • Parka
    • Food bars
    • Winter boots and warm socks 
    • Gloves or mittens
    • Warm hat and scarf
    • Fire starter kit
    • Insulated pants, coveralls, wool pants, etc.
    • Space blanket or wool blanket and large, heavy duty plastic tarp 
    • Cell phone kept close to your body to save the battery
    • First aid kit and signal mirror
    • Knife or Leatherman-type tool

    Depending on where you will be flying, there may be other FAA requirements. Here in North Dakota, this is a good basic list for emergency situations. Most of us don’t want to be bundled up in the cockpit when the heat is on and it’s hard to move around. Don’t even get me started on how difficult and unsafe it is to try to manipulate rudder pedals while wearing large winter boots. However, should you be forced to execute an unplanned landing, you will definitely need warm clothing, footwear, and shelter. 

    In a best-case scenario, you’ve completed your emergency checklist, radioed your location, and perfectly executed an off-airport landing with no injuries and minimal damage to the aircraft. However, it may still be some time before you are located and rescued. Some days, even a short amount of time exposed to the elements is enough to cause serious frostbite and hypothermia.

    So, dress warmly in layers, complete a thorough weather check and pre-flight, grab your sunglasses, and enjoy some of the best flying days of the year to be had in our beautiful state. And don’t forget your emergency gear though, just in case!

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