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  • June 27, 2023 12:20 | Anonymous

    This year, the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission received over 100 pieces of art, from a number of school districts in the state. The annual contest is part of a larger national and international effort to inspire youth to illustrate the importance of aviation and aerospace through art. Contest submissions were grouped into three separate age categories for judging, allowing students ranging from 6–17 years old to compete. The contest theme was “Air Sports & The Environment.”

    This annual contest is a conduit for students to explore aerospace and aeronautics. We hope educators will use this contest at the earliest ages to start conversations about aviation careers.

    The winners are: 

    Junior Division

    1st Peyton - Elk Ridge Elementary

    2nd Carmella - White Shield

    3rd Harper - Sweet Briar Elementary 

    Intermediate Division

    1st Sophia - Sweet Briar Elementary

    2nd Eli - Sweet Briar Elementary

    3rd Harper - Sweet Briar Elementary 

    Senior Division

    1st Alyssa - Drayton Public School

    2nd Elizabeth - Bismarck High School

    3rd Sierra- White Shield

  • June 27, 2023 12:16 | Anonymous

    The annual Air Race Classic (ARC) is a nonprofit 501(C) (3) organization with a mission. That mission is dedicated to:

    Encouraging and educating current and future women pilots

    Increasing public awareness of general aviation

    Demonstrating women’s roles in aviation

    Preserving and promoting the tradition of pioneering women in aviation

    It takes countless people to put this race together for a successful event. The volunteers are made up of a unique group of individuals who have an interest in participating and helping to make the race a success and support women of all ages, backgrounds, and professions.

    If you would like to volunteer for this year’s Air Race Classic, you can contact the volunteer coordinator with questions or submit a volunteer interest form found on the website:

    If a financial contribution is more your speed, you can help sponsor the event or a team.

    The University of North Dakota (UND) hosts a team of women aviators and this year UND’s Frozen Force will get to launch from their home turf of Grand Forks, ND. This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of a wonderful event which will bring positive attention to general aviation. Visit

  • June 27, 2023 12:05 | Anonymous

    Any individual or company that will be aerial spraying with an unmanned aircraft in North Dakota is required to operate with a license from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and should be aware of the following requirements:

    Pilot Qualifications

    Any pilots who are identified on the aerial applicator’s license must hold a Federal Aviation Administration Remote Pilot Certificate. Information on obtaining this licensure can be found here:

    Before conducting solo flights, pilots must have attended an approved training program or have received at least ten hours of direct ground-supervised solo flight at operational loads while conducting aerial application.

    Pesticide Certification

    A pilot who is identified on their Aerial Applicator License must hold a Commercial Air Core Pesticide Certification from the North Dakota State University Extension Pesticide Certification and Training Program.

    Annual Aerial Applicator Safety Meeting Requirements

    The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) requires an annual safety meeting, which can be fulfilled through attendance of a Professional Aerial Applicators’ Support System (PAASS) program or by attending the NDAC annual safety meeting. The North Dakota Department of Agriculture requires attendance at PAASS at least once every three years.

    Maximum UAS Weight

    The maximum operating weight of an unmanned aircraft while conducting aerial application in North Dakota is five hundred pounds.

    If you would like to receive additional information and/or learn more about the required steps to take to provide unmanned aerial applicator services, contact the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission office at 701-328-9650.

  • June 14, 2023 16:11 | Anonymous

    By Ron Lundquist 

    There’s an old saying that goes something like this, “Learn from the mistakes of others; you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

    I’m not quite sure who said this first. Some say it was Oliver Wendell Holmes, others attribute it to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. I’ve even heard that the late great Bob Hoover used the phrase to remind us to learn from those who have had incidents or accidents, so we don’t repeat them. I think it’s solid advice. Aircraft accidents have been around since the Wright brothers, as they are an unfortunate consequence of aviation. It’s both what we learn from them and how we improve that makes these accidents not in vain. 

    I’d like to highlight several accidents (most in the airline world) that helped in part change the way we do things, or have in some part dictated the equipment we are now used to. My goal is to bring awareness to the crash itself and how it helped change aviation. It may not have been the sole reason things changed, but they certainly helped. My intent is not to trivialize anyone’s misfortune. These all happened, were horrible, and people died. They did, however, help prevent future disasters by what we learned from human behavior and helped develop technology, which did the same. That being said, just because an accident happens and we require a change of some sort, there’s nothing that says the same exact event can’t happen again. 

    So, let’s get started. On July 19, 1989, United Flight 232 had an uncontained failure of the #2 (tail) engine, which severed the lines of all three hydraulic systems, rendering the flight controls unresponsive. Controlling it with thrust from the #1 and #3 engines, the crippled aircraft made its way to Sioux City, IA, and crashed landed on closed runway 22. A few of the ways this accident contributed to aviation safety:

    • It was a fine example of Crew Resource Management (CRM) and illustrates the need for crews to train for it. It’s still used today as a case study in CRM.
    • It reinforced the need for emergency response plans. Sioux City Airport had been perfecting theirs for several years before the event, but it really pushed other airports to rewrite their own.
    • Mechanically, it forced McDonald Douglas to rework the hydraulic systems in the DC-10 (and the MD-11.) Fuses were installed, to isolate sections of the hydraulic system if they were punctured, to prevent a total loss of fluid.
    • A crack in the fan blades on the #2 engine was initially the culprit for the engine coming apart. After the crash, General Electric developed new inspection processes for these fan blades. They also started to use a higher temp and vacuum process for the titanium from which the blades were made.

    For the next one, we go back to December 29, 1972, when Eastern Airlines Flight 401 crashed in the Florida everglades, while on approach to Miami, FL. The Lockheed 1011 had a burned-out light for one of the landing gear. While circling west of the airport, the autopilot became disengaged and the aircraft entered a slow descent. While all three crew members were focused on the light, no one was watching the airplane, which subsequently crashed. It helped coin the term Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT). 

    • This accident continues to send the message that someone has to fly the airplane at all times. This is a major component of CRM and continues to be highlighted in CRM training.
    • Not in 1972 but today, Part 121 aircraft have Ground Proximity Warning Systems (GPWS). If the L-1011 would’ve been equipped with this, it’s quite possible the crew would’ve been alerted to the impending impact with the terrain and could have arrested the descent.
    • The approach controller at Miami did see the L-1011 deviating from its altitude, but the type of radar he was using was ancient by today’s standards. The controller testified that his radar would indicate incorrect information for up to three sweeps, but instead of directly asking them about their altitude, he asked them, “How are things coming along?” After this, air traffic procedures were developed to aid flight crews, when marked deviations in altitude are noticed by the controller. It also kept the push going for development of more accurate and timely radar.
    • While waiting for rescue after the crash, many of the flight attendants were trying to help passengers evacuate the aircraft but couldn’t see, as it was night and they did not have flashlights. A recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was to have flashlights at all flight attendant stations. Also, the shoulder harnesses from the rear facing flight attendant seats had been removed, as it wasn’t a requirement at that point. It is now.

    September 25, 1978, a Boeing 727 operating as Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) Flight 182 crashed northeast of San Diego’s Lindbergh Field while on approach to runway 27, after colliding with a Cessna 172. There are many facets to this crash, but essentially the PSA jet was talking to San Diego tower and the 172 was talking to nearby Miramar approach control. Both aircraft were on roughly the same heading, with the 172 climbing and the 727 descending for landing. The PSA crew thought they had spotted the Cessna but then either lost it or had mistaken another airplane for the Cessna. Blame for the accident is still being argued, but it did yield some high profile recommendation from the NTSB,

    • Air traffic procedures were extensively overhauled at San Diego and a terminal radar service area (TRSA) was installed at Lindbergh Field.
    • Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) was recommended to be installed in all Part 121 aircraft. Had the 727 been TCAS equipped, it certainly could have alerted the crew to the Cessnas altitude and track.
    • Sterile Cockpit: a requirement for pilots to refrain from any nonessential activities during critical phases of flight. This includes taxi, takeoff, landing, and while in flight below 10,000 feet. An off-duty PSA pilot was catching a ride to San Diego on the accident flight and was in casual conversation with the flight’s crew for much of the approach into San Diego. While this may not have been a cause, it certainly took the crew’s attention away from effectively scanning for the Cessna. This was yet another accident that would show the need for sterile cockpit procedures.

    Korean Air Lines Flight 007 was shot down when it strayed into Russian airspace on September 1, 1983. The 747 was enroute from Anchorage, AK, to Seoul, Korea. It is believed that the aircraft’s autopilot was operating in ‘Heading’ mode versus ‘INS’ or Inertial Navigation System mode, which sent it on a slow diverging path that would cross over the Russian Kamchatka Peninsula. 

    Until this time, the Global Positioning System (GPS) was controlled by the military. Long-range navigation in the civilian world was done with an INS, which is a device that uses accelerometers, gyroscopes and a computer to continuously calculate the position, orientation, and velocity of an object. It’s fairly accurate but does have limitations and doesn’t compare to GPS. 

    • The Flight 007 event changed long range navigation in several ways. It forced a protocol that required long-range military radars to assist in managing civilian air traffic. Three years after the shootdown, the United States and Russia established a joint air traffic system that would aid in preventing future tragedies. 
    • Two weeks after the tragedy, President Ronald Reagan announced the release of GPS technology to use in the civilian world. This fundamentally changed not only aviation but nearly every person’s life on the planet.

    Pilots that have learned to fly in the last 30 years are no doubt very familiar with the term “microburst.” Before that, it was probably referred to as a downdraft, but the seriousness of them were really brought to light after Delta Airlines Flight 191, which crashed short of the runway at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on August 2, 1985. The L-1011 had been skirting thunderstorms on their approach to the airport and were configured for landing, when they encountered a microburst they couldn’t out fly. 

    • After the investigation, the NTSB recommended that onboard windshear detection equipment become required on all airliners and were by the mid 1990’s.
    • Low Level Windshear Alert Systems (LLWAS), a series of censors stationed around the airport to detect wind direction and velocity, were installed at DFW but were very basic in their ability. They could only detect changes close to the ground, not up in the air 1000 feet, where Delta Flight 191 was. After the crash, updated versions of LLWAS were developed and continue to be improved today.
    • Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR): TDWR has the ability to “see” turbulence, cloud rotation, etc. Almost every weatherman on television today has access to TDWR. The technology was in its infancy in 1985, but by 1994 was in service and now protects at least 46 high capacity airports (and cities) in the U.S. It’s worth mentioning that the last accident attributed to windshear was July 2, 1994. 

    The last one wasn’t an accident and no one was hurt, but it could’ve been one of the biggest disasters at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. On July 23, 2006, an Atlas Air 747 had just landed, while a United 737 was departing on an intersecting runway. Too late to abort its take off, the United aircraft cleared the tail of the 747 by 35 feet. The incident was attributed to many things but ultimately blame was given to the tower controller, who did not monitor both aircraft with respect to them using intersecting runways.

    • Runway Status Lights (RSL) had been in development for a few years, but after this incident, the number of towered airports that saw the implementation of RSL’s increased dramatically. They are used at busier airports, so depending on where you fly, you may or may not have seen one. It is important however to know what they mean if you do. RSL’s are fairly simple in their operation. The system communicates with Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE) and warns runway users that a runway is occupied, either by another aircraft or ground vehicle. Red lights will illuminate, indicating to not cross a hold short line, a runway intersection or not to take off if you were on a line up and waiting for clearance. You will see more of these as airports become busier.

    When we discuss accidents/incidents that contribute to safety and technology, these are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more advances in aviation, whether in mechanical or human factors that have come from unfortunate events. Remember that rarely does any one thing cause a crash. It’s normally a chain of events, so the reasons for an event can vary from a few to many. I try to learn from every single one and become a better pilot from them. In no way am I second guessing crews, controllers, or investigators when highlighting what happened. I’m merely mentioning them in an effort to bring awareness. 

    Blue skies and tailwinds!

  • June 14, 2023 16:06 | Anonymous

    By Ryan Thayer, Fargo Air Museum Executive Director/CEO 

    The Fargo Air Museum is thrilled to share some local history right from our Collections Manager, Max Sabin from the archives!

    The featured artifact is a U.S. Navy-issued flight log book that belonged to Fargo, ND, native Grant Herreid. Herried flew the Grumman F6F in the Pacific Theater during the closing days of World War II and kept track of all of his missions in this logbook. It was issued to him on April 7, 1945. Many of the missions he flew were Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) over Japanese-held territory. Although most are uneventful, several of his log entries note the spotting and/or destruction of Japanese aircraft in combat. The most interesting logbook entry comes on August 13, 1945, when his flight intercepted and destroyed two Japanese aircraft. In his logbook, Herreid mentions that the second kill was the “[...] last aircraft shot down during the war.” Although this is unfortunately untrue, it is still an incredible piece of World War II history, made even more special in the fact that a North Dakota native was seeing action that late in the war.

    Grant Freeman Herreid was born May 14, 1917, in Fargo. In 1927, the family moved to Moorhead, MN, and Grant graduated from Moorhead High School in about 1935. He attended Moorhead State Teachers College for one year, and then attended and graduated from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. Grant taught music in public schools in Twin Falls, ID. Following his discharge from the Navy after World War II, Grant and his wife Ruth made their home in Moorhead. After a brief time when Grant worked for a local bank, he joined the staff of Fargo Glass and Paint. He became their general manager, and worked there until his retirement in 1980. Grant served as a city alderman in Moorhead, from 1948 to 1949, and again from 1950 to 1951. He died on Sept. 14, 2004 at MeritCare Hospital South, in Fargo.

    The Grumman F6F Hellcat was an American carrier-based fighter aircraft of World War II. Designed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat and to counter the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero, it was the United States Navy’s dominant fighter in the second half of the Pacific War. In gaining that role, it prevailed over its faster competitor, the Vought F4U Corsair, which initially had problems with visibility and carrier landings.

    We are very thankful for all our sponsors, donors, friends, staff, our Board of Directors and the community. And a special thanks to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission for grant support to allow us to continually expand our education programs! We could not have a special place like the Fargo Air Museum without your support. So on behalf of the staff at the Fargo Air Museum, thank you and include a stop at the Fargo Air Museum this summer!


  • June 01, 2023 10:08 | Anonymous

    By Jason O’Day, Forum News Service

    Rodney Schaaf will be inducted into the state’s Aviation Hall of Fame after a lengthy career and years of community service.

    Rodney Schaaf (right) and North Dakota Aviation Association’s FLY-ND Conference 2023 and Kyle Wanner, Executive Director, ND Aeronautics Commission (left)

    The North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame committee recently announced that Rodney Schaaf of Bowman, N.D. has been selected for induction into the state’s Aviation Hall of Fame on March 7. Rodney will join 47 other high flyers inducted before him.

    Flying was a lifelong dream for this Western Edge wing master.

    “It started in my childhood, when two of my neighbors’ farms launched the Weather Modification Program. They do hail suppression, cloud seeding and rain enhancement,” he said. “I’d always watch them go up and fight the storms and everything down in southwest North Dakota there and that kinda started everything, wished I could do it and just went from there. I know I can do it, and I did it.”

    Schaaf, 72, in Hettinger, N.D. After graduating from Bowman High School in 1968, Rodney attended NDSU and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following his graduation in 1972, Rodney joined the Air Force and was assigned to pilot training where was named a Distinguished Pilot Graduate with a top 10 standing within the class.

    “Nowadays I’m retired so I’ve got all the farm ground leased to a couple of neighbor kids. And I still help with fencing, moving cattle, cutting hay and stuff like that,” he said. “Sometimes I think I’m busier now than when I was flying.”

    Rodney’s first military assignment sent him to the Grand Forks Air Base as a KC-135 flight crew member. Flying KC-135 missions involved completing in-flight refueling and passenger airlift operations worldwide, taking him from North Dakota to Alaska, Spain, England, Hawaii, Guam, Japan and South Korea. During his military service, Rodney achieved the rank of Captain. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1978. The timing proved serendipitous, as Jimmy Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act that year to foster greater competition and lower ticket prices.

    “Everybody was hiring… Airlines were very restricted on what routes they could serve. So if Delta wanted to add another route, say Atlanta to Detroit, it had to go in front of the Civil Air Aeronautics Board at that time. And they would say no, Northwest already has that covered,” Schaaf explained. “So now, airlines could go wherever they wanted. There were a few congested areas like New York that required a certain number of slots or else you’d overload the air traffic system.”

    Rodney was hired as a pilot for Delta Airlines in 1978 and continued a successful career through his retirement in 2004. In 2012, Rodney became the fourth pilot to complete the state’s Passport Program, where he flew to all 89 public-use airports in North Dakota. Rodney has also assisted many others in their completion of this achievement as he believes in the importance of the program and how it allows people to interact with the aviation community across the Roughrider State. He also continually advocates for youth aviation education and development.

    Rodney was also appointed to serve on the Bowman County Airport Authority in 2007 and he acted as the chairman of the board for over a decade. In this role, he was the primary liaison between the Bowman Airport and the county, state, and federal agencies. This entailed the coordination of hail suppression, crop-dusting and medical flights. Rodney also goes out of his way to help incoming aviators with obtaining fuel, ground transportation, and to provide information about the local area.

    As the chairman of the airport authority, Rodney was instrumental in the planning, design and construction of the new Bowman Regional Airport which was opened to the public in 2015. He volunteered countless hours consulting with contractors, engineers and government agencies to ensure that the new airport would be an exceptional facility for Bowman and neighboring communities.

    He explained the prior airport runway was too short for use during the summertime, but that rebuilding was an eight year process with a lot of regulatory complications. As part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Great Lakes Region, he had to compete with airports in four other states for grant funding.

    “They determined that’s a wetland, and you mention wetland to the government? Well, the world’s gonna end. So we had to go through various options,” he said. “Then you go through the construction bidding process which takes time because with the FAA, they have so many restrictions. The main one is to buy American. You know, there’s almost nothing made in America anymore. So you’ve got to go through all the waiver processes. And then you got the Davis-Bacon wage system.”

    The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 requires federally funded projects to pay prevailing wages to contractors. Many conservatives and libertarians argue this was originally implemented as a way to price black workers out of the labor market; and that it continues to unfairly favor union companies, discourage small businesses from entering bids and artificially inflate construction bills to taxpayers.

    Rodney has also been an active citizen and volunteer. He has helped as a Cub Scout leader and has taken young aviators on introductory flights. Rodney has also served as a Talbot Township Supervisor and Bowman County Zoning Officer.

    Kyle Wanner is executive director at the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. He said the aviation community is grateful for Schaaf’s contributions.

    “The aviation Hall of Fame recognizes the Aviators who have made a difference in North Dakota… Recognizing their volunteerism, their passion for aviation, the work that they’ve done to make a difference in the lives of their community members and the lives of those who are involved in the aviation industry throughout the state is incredibly important,” Wanner said. “Rodney is very, very well deserving. The Bowman airport is really there because of all the time and effort he put in.”


    Rodney was a U.S. Air Force Captain in the 1970s.

    Rodney Schaaf was a Delta commercial airline pilot for 26 years. 

    Reprinted with permission from The Dickinson Press.

  • May 10, 2023 13:59 | Anonymous

    After the long winter we had this year, I anticipate there may be many pilots with an itch to get back in the air. If you are looking for a reason to get in the air, consider participating in the North Dakota Airport Passport Program. To date we have had 97 individuals complete the program, by landing at all 89 public use airports in the state. Starting this summer, in addition to the paper book and stamps located at each airport, users can collect check-ins digitally using an app. This collaboration with Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will make it even easier for pilots to collect check-ins. If you already have a book with stamps, don’t worry, we can combine the physical check-ins with those on the app. Check-ins with the AOPA app will be enabled VERY soon! 

    How to participate

    Download the AOPA app on your mobile device.

    Open the Pilot Passport. 

    Under the state programs tab, select North Dakota and opt-in to the North Dakota Airport Passport Program when it becomes available. 

    Once that is completed, you can then start flying to airports, attending safety seminars, and visiting North Dakota’s aviation museums. When you have obtained the proper number of check-ins at airports, aviation museums, and safety seminars, the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission will award your prizes to you.

    There is no deadline for completing the North Dakota Airport Passport Program, as long as the program remains in operation. Awards and recognition will be given at the annual Fly-ND Conference (formerly known as UMAS.)

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • May 10, 2023 13:50 | Anonymous

    Helicopter Association International (HAI) applauds the leadership of the University of North Dakota (UND) in rolling out the North Dakota Rotor Pathway Program.

    The program provides aviation classes that incorporate vertical aviation to high school students by teaming up with industry members, high schools, post-secondary schools, and other stakeholders. The students earn college credits while still in high school and are offered mentoring, internships, and job interviews upon completing the college-level aviation program.

    “The rollout of the North Dakota Rotor Pathway Program is a testament to the dedication, professionalism, and love of aviation found among aviation leaders in North Dakota. UND has consistently brought innovative solutions forward and once again steps up to tackle the issue of workforce development,” says HAI VP of Government Affairs Cade Clark. “UND is well known for the caliber of pilots it produces. I am excited to see the Pathway program introduced in North Dakota with such great partners.”

    “Our state relies on aviation, especially for agricultural and emergency services. I am excited that North Dakota can stand up this program advancing opportunities for the next generation of pilots as well as growing the numbers of those pilots,” says Mike McHugh, Education Coordinator at North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. “I look forward to working with all our stakeholders in growing this program.”

    “Our school is committed to providing the highest-quality training for our students,” says Wesley Van Dell, chief flight instructor, rotorcraft, flight operations, at UND. “We are excited to extend the opportunities in the helicopter industry to more students and show them that the future is very bright.”

    Mark Schlaefli of Black Hills Aerial Adventures and Yellowstone Helicopters has stepped forward as an eager industry partner. “Part of our stated purpose as operators is to help develop the next generation of technicians and pilots who have an interest in vertical aviation. It is imperative that we as an industry help turn that interest into a passion. I was fortunate to have mentors throughout my journey, and we have a calling to give back and help a new generation of rotor pilots find their place in vertical aviation.”

    Leslie Martin, associate professor, aviation, at UND, teaches the program at a local high school in Grand Forks. “Interacting with these young students with such passion is inspiring,” says Martin. “These students are excited to learn about how they can participate and succeed in vertical aviation. Their passion is genuine, and I have no doubts about their success. I am excited to bring the benefits of this program to them.”

    The North Dakota Rotor Pathway Program builds on the success of the inaugural Rotor Pathway Program established in Utah, which serves as a national model for education and training programs that prepare students for STEM careers. “This type of program creates a win for everyone involved: students get the education they need for in-demand careers while industry creates a workforce development pipeline that enables it to grow. I applaud all stakeholders involved for being willing to step up and be part of a solution,” Clark says.

  • May 10, 2023 11:16 | Anonymous

    Congratulations to the Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport, and the Watford City Municipal Airport!

    Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport in Dickinson, ND has been recognized as North Dakota’s “2022 Commercial Service Airport of the Year”. The airport hosted tours for schools throughout the state, allowing students from Kindergarten through High School to visit and see the world of aviation up close. The airport also worked to provide a wonderful experience for two families through the Make-A-Wish foundation, giving VIP treatment including a Fire Fighting water cannon salute on their departure.

    In 2022, Dickinson completed a multi-year reconstruction and expansion of their new primary runway. The runway added 900 ft., bringing the total length to 7,300 ft. The project also included constructing a full-length parallel taxiway and installing a new ILS system to enhance safety on the airport. This project overall took 4 years to finish and allows much larger aircraft to operate at the airport.

    Watford City Municipal Airport has also been recognized as North Dakota’s “2022 General Aviation Airport of the Year.” In 2022, Watford City completed a major renovation project, culminating approximately a decade of planning and hard work. Their runway underwent major reconstruction, and was shifted to a new location with a new expanded length of 6,550 ft. The project included a new lighting system, and a full-length parallel taxiway to greatly enhance safety. These enhancements now allow the community in the epicenter of Bakken to accommodate most large jets.

    Watford City hosted an annual fly-in/drive-in, coordinated with other local community events. The airport also continually hosts weather modification and crop spraying to aid local farmers and protect agriculture.

    The airports received these awards for excellence in community outreach, facility management, construction and beautification projects, and participation and hosting of special events. The awards were presented at the 2023 NDAA Fly-ND Conference awards banquet. Presenting the awards was Ryan Riesinger, President of the Airport Association of North Dakota and Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. Accepting the award for Dickinson was Channing Wagner, DIK Airport Operations & maintenance Manager and Laurie Kasian, DIK Airport Administrative Officer. Accepting the award for Watford City was Steve Reeves, Airport Authority Board Member and Luke Taylor, Airport Manager.

    The Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport receives the 2022 Commercial Airport of the Year award during the North Dakota Aviation Association’s FLY-ND Conference awards banquet on March 7th, 2023. Pictured from left to right is Kyle Wanner (Executive Director, ND Aeronautics Commission), Channing Wagner (DIK Airport Operations & Maintenance Manager), Laurie Kasian (DIK Airport Administrative Officer), and Ryan Riesinger (President of the North Dakota Airport Association).

    The Watford City Municipal Airport receives the 2022 General Aviation Airport of the Year award during the North Dakota Aviation Association’s FLY-ND Conference awards banquet on March 7th, 2023. Pictured from left to right is Kyle Wanner (Executive Director, ND Aeronautics Commission), Steve Reeves (Watford City Airport Authority Board Member), Luke Taylor (Watford City Airport Manager), and Ryan Riesinger (President of the North Dakota Airport Association).

  • May 10, 2023 11:10 | Anonymous

    The 68th North Dakota Legislative Assembly has concluded its biennial session, and I want to express my appreciation to everyone who participated in hearings or provided written testimony on aviation-related legislation. The biennial North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) budget has been approved for the period of July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025, which includes additional state funding availability for airport infrastructure enhancements and aviation education grant opportunities. The budget also continues support for the “Operation Prairie Dog” airport infrastructure fund, with the caveat that the state’s oil revenues must be sufficient during the upcoming biennium.

    Our airport planning team is reviewing grant applications for airport projects, and their funding recommendations will be presented to the Aeronautics Commissioners at the Annual Airport Grant Meeting on June 15, 2023. This grant round provides an opportunity for the NDAC to allocate funds from the airport infrastructure fund established through the “Operation Prairie Dog” legislation, passed in 2019. This funding is critical for matching federal funds and implementing high-priority airport projects throughout the state.

    With state funding levels determined for the next two years, additional attention is now needed at the federal level. The future of aviation in the United States depends on the passage of a long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bill that determines funding levels and operating authority for the FAA while addressing critical aviation issues. The last such bill was approved in 2018 and provided five years of funding for the FAA to operate through September 30, 2023. The 2018 FAA Reauthorization bill was praised for ending a period of multiple short-term extensions which provided uncertainty and instability for the aviation industry. We are hoping that Congress will prioritize the passing of a long-term FAA Reauthorization bill which will provide the FAA with the necessary resources that are required to maintain and modernize our aviation system.

    The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) has been working with the states and national aviation industry groups to identify several priorities for FAA Reauthorization. These priorities include increasing investment in the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), modernizing the Non-Primary Entitlement (NPE) Program, and supporting a regulatory framework for advanced air mobility and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Additionally, it is essential to improve the timeliness of the FAA’s issuance of AIP grants, identify solutions to address the aviation workforce shortage, and ensure that air service opportunities are available to small communities.

    As a member of NASAO, the NDAC has been advocating for the priorities that should be considered in FAA Reauthorization. Recently, I traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss these priorities with other state aviation directors, North Dakota’s congressional offices, and staff members from both the House and Senate subcommittees that are drafting language for FAA Reauthorization.

    As the expiration date of the current FAA Reauthorization approaches, it is important that aviation users engage with their federal representatives and industry groups to advocate on behalf of their issues and priorities. By participating in these conversations, we can help shape policies and funding levels that promote safety, efficiency, and innovation in the aviation industry. Let’s take this opportunity to make a positive difference for the future of aviation.

    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

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