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  • August 28, 2023 13:22 | Anonymous

    The current pilot shortage has posed a significant challenge to the aviation industry worldwide. Flight cancellations, route reductions, and higher ticket prices are being experienced by the public and these concerns are receiving significant attention. The private sector has responded by implementing several short-term strategies, which include offering signing bonuses, enhancing training programs, fostering collaborations with flight schools, and expanding recruitment efforts. While these initiatives have helped to alleviate the immediate impact of the shortage, a comprehensive national long-term strategy is necessary to address the root causes and further sustain the industry’s growth.

    To tackle the workforce shortage effectively, a collective proactive approach is required. Solutions must focus on promoting aviation careers to younger generations and efforts should be done to reduce barriers to entry. It is also crucial to showcase the wide range of opportunities beyond piloting, which includes but is not limited to careers in airport management, aircraft mechanics, unmanned aircraft operations, and airport engineering/planning. Scholarships and educational programs can also help make aviation training more affordable and accessible. Additionally, finding ways to streamline regulatory requirements without compromising safety would also help to encourage aspiring aviators to join the profession.

    Aviation education has been a priority to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) and we are proud of our collaborative efforts with the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) to significantly grow aviation education initiatives throughout the state, over the last decade. The NDAC has provided funding to assist with multiple educational programming events, such as the Bismarck Aviation Career Day, which draws in over 900 fifth graders to learn about aviation careers. The Commission also supports internships at commercial service airports and funds educational programming at aviation museums. Furthermore, the Flight Training Assistance Program helps to provide transportation costs of flight instructors to rural airports.

    The NDAC has also played a pivotal role in developing aviation-related programming for high school students. The Kindred High School is one example of a recent recipient of grant funding, which will assist with starting up a new aviation program. Presently, seven different cities throughout the state provide aviation-specific high school coursework. Additionally, all North Dakota students have an opportunity to access aviation curriculum through the state’s distance education program. Overall, these efforts have been very successful, as we have seen tremendous growth in the number of aviation students at both the high school and collegiate levels.

    This past biennium, a partnership was also formed between NDAC, NDAA, and the University of North Dakota to receive a federal workforce development grant. This has allowed for new professional development opportunities for our high school teachers and to further promote aviation curriculum within the school systems.

    Efforts have also been successful to develop one-time and endowed scholarship funds for students pursuing a career in aviation. An annual Aviation Career Expo, which occurs each October and alternates between the Fargo and Minot Aviation Museums, has also been very successful. This event has been drawing approximately 150 high school students from all over North Dakota, who are specifically interested in aviation careers.

    North Dakota’s proactive initiatives can serve as an inspiration for other states and regions that are also facing workforce shortages. A national-level effort is imperative to tackle the issue and ensure a sustainable supply of skilled aviation professionals. Our office will continue to collaborate with industry groups and organizations as we facilitate the exchange of ideas and best practices with the goal of promoting effective strategies nationwide.

    We deeply appreciate the contributions of all the dedicated volunteers and prwofessionals who have worked to actively promote aviation careers. We also wholeheartedly encourage each one of you to explore opportunities to give back to the industry. Together, let us continue fostering a passion for aviation and work to inspire the next generation to explore the different career fields that aviation has to offer.

  • August 28, 2023 13:00 | Anonymous

    Hello to all of you once again. I hope this issue of the Quarterly finds you doing well and enjoying a beautiful North Dakota summer! 

    I have had the great pleasure these past few months to get out and enjoy summer flying in North Dakota. What a wonderful time of year to fly! Aside from dodging a few thunderstorms and showers here and there, seeing all the beautiful green fields and golf courses (my favorite) sure is a lot of fun! I even let my daughter take the controls of the Cessna 172 to see how it’s done. After a few roller coaster ups and downs, she got it figured out! Another aviator in the making?!

    I would like to take this time for a thank you and a welcome. As of July 1, 2023, we have our annual changes to the members of the Board of Directors. As such, I would like to extend a huge thank you to our out-going board member, Ron Lundquist. Ron has shared his wisdom, knowledge, and expertise with the group and our organization in countless ways over the past two years, and we sure will miss having him on the board. Thank you again, Ron, it was great working with you.

    Returning to the board for another two-year term is Jake Werner. He joined our board in 2020, and was re-elected this March for his second term. Thanks for throwing your hat in the ring again, and welcome back, Jake!

    Filling out the second open seat on the board is Devin Cole. Devin was elected to the board in March for his first two-year term. We’re excited to have Devin join us and know he will bring a great perspective to the board. Welcome, Devin!

    In other NDAA Board news, we are currently seeking to fill the Executive Director role. Our previously hired Executive Director accepted a full-time position, which would have made it difficult to fill this capacity as well. We wish her nothing but the best in her new role! With that, if you or anyone you know has an interest in being the Executive Director, please contact myself or someone else on the board. 

    Aside from this, we are continuing to make plans for the 2024 Fly-ND Conference in Grand Forks, ND. We’ve got a great team heading up this effort, and it’s sure to be a conference you will not want to miss! 

    I hope the remaining summer months bring you all great times with family and friends, and not too many sunburns! 

    Take Care, Justin 

  • August 24, 2023 12:50 | Anonymous

    Thanks to all who joined in the fun for Summerfest 2023 on June 17, in Bowman, ND.

    On June 17, 2023, we held our annual North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) Fly-ND Summerfest. This year, the event was hosted in beautiful Bowman, ND, to coincide with the Bottom Line Aviation & Bowman Airport Fly-In, as well as a celebration for Rodney Schaaf, the 2023 North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame recipient. We gathered to celebrate summer and aviation, as well as fundraise for aviation scholarships – and we did just that, raising over $8,500 for scholarships while participating in the Corporate Air Golf Tournament. Twenty golfers participated and the “home team” took first place – congratulations to Team Bowman for the first-place win, to Will Bellamy on the Longest Drive, and Shae Helling on Closest to the Pin! 

    Thank you to all who attended, participated, and volunteered at NDAA Summerfest 2023. Thank you to the Bowman Airport and Bottom Line Aviation for hosting the event and providing the delicious food, and thank you to our 2023 sponsors: Corporate Air, Overland Aviation, Western Edge Aviation, Coach Truck & Tractor, Kotaco Fuels, and Avfuel. We thank you for your continued support that made this event possible. 

    Tanner Overland, NDAA Vice Chair


  • June 27, 2023 12:58 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Air National Guard’s (NDANG), 119th Wing, known as the “Happy Hooligans,” recognized the organization’s top officers, noncommissioned officers and Airmen of the Year on March 4, during a ceremony at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fargo, N.D. (National Guard story by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Knodle, 119th Wing Public Affairs)

    Airmen were nominated for the awards based on their military and civic service throughout 2022. The Outstanding Airman Program annually recognizes officers and enlisted members for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement, and personal achievements.

    Field Grade Officer of the Year: Maj. Daniel Sly, 119th Mission Support Group.

    Maj. Daniel Sly joined the NDANG in 1999 and commands the 119th Communications Flight. His 2022 accomplishments include helping build a mobile STARLINK communications kit which significantly improved communications in support of domestic operations in remote areas of North Dakota. He led the design, engineering and installation of a vastly improved communications infrastructure to include a core fiber optic mesh network that is more robust, resilient and faster than legacy systems. Sly served as an expert panel member for two separate Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce cyber events, serving to educate small business and community leaders on cyber network security. He led the design and creation of a research and development network now used by the U.S. Coast Guard to test improved search and rescue capabilities. Sly volunteers as a coach for Moorhead Youth Football and the Moorhead Crush Softball program. He also serves as a volunteer at the Christ the King Church in Moorhead leading the Call Committee.

    Company Grade Officer of the Year: 1st Lt. Cody Chick, 119th Mission Support Group.

    1st Lt. Cody Chick joined the NDANG in 2009 and serves as the operations officer for the 219th Security Forces Squadron in Minot, N.D. Prior to his current role, Chick served as a fire team leader, training instructor, training noncommissioned officer in charge, and support operations officer.

    His 2022 accomplishments include successfully leading 80 Airmen in performing 24/7 nuclear security operations for Global Strike Command at Minot Air Force Base. Chick is the only ANG member certified as a Nuclear Convoy Commander and only one of six in the entire U.S. Air Force. During this time, he commanded 25 nuclear weapon convoys and securely transferred over $672M worth of nuclear war assets over a combined distance of 1,700 miles. He participated in the 119th Wing Strategic Planning Team, developing goals and objectives to support the Wing’s priorities. He volunteers his time and home as a host family sponsor for the Minot State University Women’s Hockey Team, providing a home and support for non-local women to play college hockey and get an education.

    Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sgt. Erica Carruth, 119th Mission Support Group.

    Senior Master Sgt. Erica Carruth joined the NDANG in 2005, and currently serves as the flight chief, Military Personnel Flight in the 119th Force Support Squadron.

    Her major 2022 accomplishments include deploying as the personnel support for contingency operations team chief at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. There he led the collaboration to create the first ever 119th Wing Strategic Plan and developed an online platform for wing personnelists to track training. Additionally, she was recognized as a superior performer by the 119th Wing Inspector General for her efforts in creating intricate scenarios for a mass casualty exercise. Carruth recently became a certified hot yoga instructor and teaches fitness classes at Inspire Health and Wellness. She is a member of the Harwood American Legion and the Enlisted Association. She is also an active member of her parish, Holy Spirit Catholic church, where she volunteers with her husband. Her most memorable NDANG moment was in August 2021 when she was deployed to Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait and directly supported the citizens and military members that were evacuating Afghanistan. She led a Personnel Support for Contingency Operations team that worked around the clock to track and aid Noncombatant Evacuation Operations.

    Noncommissioned Officer of the Year: Master Sgt. Taylor Wolford, 119th Operations Group.

    Master Sgt. Taylor Wolford joined the NDANG in 2009 and currently serves as an operations intelligence flight chief in the 178th Attack Squadron. His major 2022 accomplishments include expanding relationships with the U.S. Special Operations Forces community by facilitating joint exercises and providing a Live Virtual Constructive training environment. This led to the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures integrating MQ-9 operations into the joint domain. Wolford has been deployed “in-garrison” supporting numerous contingency operations since 2013. He is honored to serve as an intelligence flight chief and relishes the role of “taking care of Airmen.” Taylor volunteers for the Salvation Army and serves as a coach for Tri-City Youth Soccer.

    Sornsin, 119th Mission Support Group.

    Senior Airman Maria Sornsin joined the NDANG in 2018, and currently serves as a services journeyman in the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron.

    Her major 2022 accomplishments include identifying 425 safety hazards resulting in the creation of 1,700 work orders for corrective action. Her efforts improved the quality of life for 7,200 joint coalition warfighters and earned her the U.S. Air Force Central Top Performer award. In July 2022, her humanitarianism took her to Medjugorje, Bosnia where she engaged in activities that provided shelter, necessary medical care, pharmaceutical treatment, nourishment, supplies and critical winter clothing. These efforts directly contributed to the health and wellness of the local community. Finally, Sornsin supported the movement of 825 total force students within 12 different career fields, from 25 visiting teams at the 119th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Regional Training Site. Her most memorable 119th Wing moment was a deployment for training to Yokota Air Force Base, Japan.

    “We are extremely proud of these Airmen and their continued dedication to excellence and service to our state and nation,” said Col. Mitch Johnson, 119th Wing commander. “Their contributions to the N.D. Air National Guard ensure that the Happy Hooligans’ outstanding reputation is maintained and enhanced throughout the U.S. Air Force and Department of Defense.”

    Family of the Year 

    Master Sgt. Taylor Wolford, left, and Master Sgt. Laura Wolford and daughter were recognized as Family of the Year at the annual North Dakota Airmen of Year Banquet, March 4, 2023, Fargo, N.D. (National Guard photo by Senior Airman Christa Anderson, 119th Wing Public Affairs)

    Article reprinted with permission from the North Dakota National Guard.

  • June 27, 2023 12:56 | Anonymous

    By Emmeline Ivy, KFYR

    The Bismarck Public Schools Career Academy staff is dedicated to helping students realize their full potential and achieve their goals. Now, it’s one step closer to helping those interested in becoming pilots – even before graduating high school.

    The BPS Career Academy boasts 18 student pilots who have been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly with an instructor.

    Three of those kids are looking to secure their Commercial Pilot Certificate before graduation. Thanks to a donation from one generous local, the students are now able to receive flight credit without leaving the classroom.

    There are many reasons why these students have chosen a path to the skies.

    “I’ve always wanted to be a pilot my whole life,” said 17-year-old student pilot Logan Lawrence.

    “I’m looking to teach aviation,” said 17-year-old student pilot Jefferson Miller.

    “I’m studying to get my private pilot license and pass the written test,” said 16-year-old student pilot Garen Crouse.

    The one common denominator linking them together? Passion for flight.

    Jefferson Miller is hoping to get his dream of joining the aviation industry off the ground. “Ever since I was young, I would look up, and I’d see planes in the air. I’d just think, ‘I want to do that.’

    At a young age, Miller caught a flight that changed his life. “One of my mom’s friends, he took me and my older brother up into a plane, and I was just awestruck. It was just the coolest experience of my life,” said Miller.

    Miller’s classmate, Logan Lawrence says he’s been preparing for takeoff for as long as he can remember.

    “I’ve just always been fascinated by it. Ever since I’ve been a little kid, I’ve only wanted to be a pilot,” said Lawrence.

    Logan’s friend, Garen Crouse says his interest developed over time, but now his goal is as clear as the summer sky.

    “My dream? Being a commercial pilot for any kind of airline,” said Crouse.

    A new class tool is helping the students learn on the ground while giving them the skills to soar.

    “We got the simulator a couple of weeks ago. It’s an advanced aviation training device, which allows us to actually train the pilots and also students too for a more immersive and hands-on learning experience,” said Aviation Technology Instructor Brad Stangeland.

    Brad Stangeland’s class says the simulator is a game changer. “If you wanted to practice getting out of some kind of dangerous scenario, you wouldn’t really want to do that in an actual plane. You’d want to do it in a simulator,” said Crouse.

    “It’s definitely a huge advantage that us students have over anyone else that’s trying to be a pilot,” said Lawrence.

    You can feel almost what it feels like to be in an actual airplane,” said Miller.

    These three will soon land jobs. And for future students, the possibilities are now endless.

    “I’m experiencing history in the making. I can see the impact of the generations to come,” said Miller.

    Time spent in the simulator can be logged for flight hours - up to 2.5 toward private pilot licenses and 50 toward commercial licenses.

    Bismarck resident and aviation enthusiast Kerry Carpenter donated the flight simulator to the Career Academy.

    Reprinted with permission from KFYR TV. Copyright 2023 KFYR.

  • June 27, 2023 12:52 | Anonymous

    Seth Boyko, left, and Buddy Walker pose for a photo following the first successful test flight after a major aircraft restoration of Walker’s plane. MIDDLE: Seth Boyko plies his trade on the 1959 Cessna 310 rescue project. 

    Seth Boyko, an aircraft mechanic at Minot Aero Center, is an extremely talented workaholic who grew up near Turtle Lake with a North Dakota “If it’s broke…fix it” ethic. Eighteen-year-old Seth was tasked with restoring my 1959 twin Cessna aircraft.

    Consulting with Minot Aero Center’s Director of Maintenance Jay Blessum we decided to fly my sick little bird (1959 twin Cessna aircraft) back to Minot for the possible salvation – restoration to airworthiness condition.

    Should we wish to proceed, “It Just So Happens That (I.J.S.H.T.)” Jay would generously give Seth uninterrupted space and time to tackle this massive project.

    The issue came about in January 2022, when I dropped off my 1959 twin Cessna aircraft for its first major inspection at TAS Aviation maintenance facility in Defiance, Ohio. Our horrific Midwest winter weather subsided at the same time I had Air Force leave and it was the last week of the last month before my annual inspection expired. In May, I was told what every vintage vehicle owner dreads hearing – corrosion was discovered. Specifically, a four-inch area along the right wing’s spar, which is basically the airplane’s spine. Pictures looked like a Great White shark took a bite out of it.

    The shop in Ohio did not have the capacity to take on such a long-term restoration project.

    Alex Finneseth, friend and fellow aviator, flew with me to bring my twin Cessna back to North Dakota from Ohio. With the Minot ferry flight completed, now began the search for a suitable wing donor. My friend, Dennis Rehr, unearthed a 1960 Cessna 310, taken apart and stored in Iowa and put me in touch with the D model’s owner. Once we learned that a 1960 model’s wing will fit on my 1959 model, hope and prayer began to take action.

    The obvious determinant for most of us in restoring a vintage car, truck boat or aircraft is money. In my case, I went by the standardized aviation insurance industry formula: If the repair estimate exceeds 70ish% of the aircraft value, it is considered a total loss.

    The U.S. Air Force stationed me at Minot, North Dakota, these past three years, affording me the chance to hang out with aviation legends and icons like Kent and Warren Pietsch. Before plunging into major restoration surgery on 90B, Warren and I discussed this topic of When-To-Rescue vs When-To-Let-Go. We considered all the factors including money.

    Enter Seth the Savior and Minot Aero Center.

    Seth had a free weekend, a brother, loads of enthusiasm for our project and a huge pickup truck with flatbed so, one round-trip to Iowa later, and we have us a donor aircraft wing.

    So, we got my plane back at Minot a replacement right wing, lots of local airport enthusiasm, an adventurous shop and Seth.

    To say this young man possesses skill and initiative is understated. Daily I visited the maintenance hangar during this project and received updates from Seth akin to: “Well, the wiring in this new wing is crap so I replaced it all with new.”

    Every visit I liken to witnessing a miracle in progress, and I’m in the business of believing in those, so I shouldn’t have betrayed such shock! (Walker is an Air Force chaplain.) Main fuel tank removed. Engine hoisted. Wing amputated. Wheels, brakes and lines swapped. Flight control surfaces traded. Ribs and cowling parts exchanged between old wing and new. Anachronistically shiny replacement skin: fabricated in-house.

    Blending two airplanes together creates obvious color differences, ranging from beige and maroon to green, gold and white, so when asked about a name, I struck a dramatic pose like Dr. Pretorius from the 1930s horror classic and pronounced her, “The Bride of Frankenstein.”

    I cannot stress enough that this entire project was 99% Seth. Wise beyond his age of 18 years, he consulted with local experts and experienced maintenance gurus throughout the process, all under the watchful eye of Jay Blessum.

    Meanwhile, a funny thing was happening around the old airfield: a case study in what we mean by, the aviation community. At one point, I saw three mechanics, two flight instructors, one student pilot and an airman from my base… all assisting in saving this old air companion of mine. How do you place a value on that?

    The entire wing replacement plus annual inspection was all accomplished in just two months.

    On Dec. 1 the day arrived for the test flight. To be expected, Seth was right there in the co-pilot seat and righteously monitoring/manipulating everything that extends, retracts, moves, registers, lights up or ignites: everything we could think of to check after such a massive undertaking was tested to the max. Anything I could write about that moment is best summarized by looking at the two faces ignited by cell phone camera flash (which I forgot to disarm), where you can catch a glimpse of grinning VICTORY.

    Seth is an icon of assurance that the USA has a bright future, with folks like him pouring their all to make each day a success story. Taking what he learned from family and farm, Seth climbed into aviation and is a proud owner, aircraft mechanic, commercial single engine land pilot and the most optimistic, proficient troubleshooter you will ever see tackling gremlins in the maintenance hangar.

    As of now, 90B and I are back to FMC status. That’s Air Force-ese for Fully Mission Capable. We have resumed our business/pleasure sky time together doing what twin Cessnas do best. If you find yourself at Minot International Airport, swing by AvFlight. We would love to share more of this rescue story with you all. Just look for the beige, maroon, black, white, gold, silver and green 1958/1959/1960 twin Cessna 310 with “Saved by Seth” painted on one wing.

     Reprinted with permission from The Minot Daily News.

  • June 27, 2023 12:40 | Anonymous

    2023 Air Race Classic, which originates in Grand Forks this year, traces roots back to early days of aerial racing

    Editor’s note: In honor of March as Women’s History Month, UND Today presents this story that pays tribute to Florence Klingensmith, a North Dakota aviation pioneer; and previews the 46th Annual Air Race Classic, which will begin at Grand Forks International Airport in June and includes a team of four UND students.

    Florence Klingensmith (left), North Dakota’s first licensed woman pilot and a groundbreaking air racer, raised money from Fargo businesses to purchase her first airplane which she named “Miss Fargo.” Photo courtesy Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County.

    By Patrick C. Miller

    The 1933 air race accident that ended the life of North Dakota’s first licensed woman pilot was used as an excuse to diminish women’s role in aviation.

    Florence Klingensmith was born in 1904 and grew up in Moorhead, Minn., launching her aviation career from Hector Field in Fargo, N.D. However, the nature of her untimely death for decades masked her contributions to the burgeoning aviation field in the 1920s and 1930s.

    “Florence Klingensmith was from the Fargo-Moorhead area and became North Dakota’s first licensed woman pilot,” said Beth Bjerke, associate dean for UND aerospace and professor for aviation. “She was truly one of the first air racers who rose to national prominence by learning to fly and being very successful.”

    While Klingensmith wasn’t as well-known as Amelia Earhart – perhaps the most famous woman pilot of the era – her influence on women in aviation was significant. She was 29 when she lost her life during an air race in Chicago, determined to demonstrate that when it came to flying, women had just as much skill as men.

    In the spirit of Klingensmith and other women pioneers in air racing, this summer, the 46th Annual Air Race Classic will begin at the Grand Forks International Airport and include a team of four UND students. They will compete with other women to fly a 2,400-mile course from North Dakota to Homestead, Fla., from June 20-23.

    “We are hosting the start of the Air Race Classic, an all-female race with its roots back in the 1920s,” said Bjerke.

    “The race isn’t about getting to Homestead, Fla., first; it’s about flying as lightweight as possible and knowing little tricks and tweaks,” she explained. “But mainly it’s understanding the weather, knowing when to take off and what altitudes to fly at.”

    Following in Klingensmith’s footsteps, members of UND’s 2023 Air Race Classic team are: pilot Grace Heron, a senior from Tampa, Fla., majoring in aviation safety, commercial aviation and sociology; copilot Sadie Blace, a sophomore from Mankato, Minn., majoring in commercial aviation and aviation management; navigator Tracy Mitchell, a sophomore from Billings, Mont., majoring in commercial aviation and unmanned aircraft systems; and ground coordinator Ashley Almquist, a freshman from Bay Village, Ohio, majoring in commercial aviation and aviation safety.

    UND’s decade of air racing

    As UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences celebrates its 10th anniversary of participating in the Air Race Classic and Grand Forks prepares to host the event, it’s worth noting that during Women’s History Month, Klingensmith was among the pioneering women pilots in the early years of aviation and air racing.

    Mark Peihl, senior archivist and 36-year employee with the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, did detailed research on Klingensmith for a 1991 article he wrote for the organization’s newsletter. He spoke to people who remembered Klingensmith, calling her “an amazing woman with an amazing story.”

    “She was known all over the country, a household name at the time,” he said. “She was a very remarkable character in her own right, someone who was absolutely fearless and would try anything. She’s one of my favorite characters from Clay County history.”

    But the circumstances of her death in an air race crash while competing against male pilots caused her to fade into the shadows of history. Keith O’Brien, a former Boston Globe reporter, changed that with the 2018 publication of his book, “Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History.”

    “Fly Girls” author Keith O’Brien, shown in 2021 with a photo cutout of Florence Klingensmith during a ceremony to honor her.  Photo courtesy of The Extra Newspaper.

    Klingensmith is one of five women aviators featured in the book. The other four women pilots are Earhart, Ruth Elder, Ruth Nichols and Louise Thaden. A chapter of “Fly Girls” is devoted to Klingensmith and her aviation exploits. The book became a New York Times best seller and helped revive Klingensmith’s historical importance in the aviation field.

    In a 2018 interview with GBH News, O’Brien said, “Florence Klingensmith, of this bunch, was just, objectively speaking, the most skilled pilot. She flew in the pylon races. Not only did she fly in the pylon races, she won them and actually competed against the men. That required the utmost coordination and skill. Florence was incredible at it.”

    The Daredevil from Moorhead

    Klingensmith spent her early years on a small farm north of Moorhead before her family moved into town. She gained a reputation as a daredevil, racing motorcycles and working as a sky diver and an airshow stunt girl.

    Determined to fly, she earned money to complete electrical school and then worked as an apprentice airplane mechanic at Fargo’s Hector Field while taking flying lessons. She raised money from local businesses to buy her first airplane, which she named “Miss Fargo.”

    North Dakota’s first licensed woman pilot launched an aviation career that included winning some of the biggest air races of the day, earning the Amelia Earhart Trophy and setting a world record for flying the most continuous loops – a 4 ½ hour flight during which she completed 1,078 loops. Klingensmith earned the nickname “Tree Tops” for her flamboyant flying style.

    One of her goals was to demonstrate that women could compete against men, who almost always had the advantage of wealthy sponsors, enabling them to fly the latest and fastest aircraft.

    As O’Brien wrote in his book, “It was not surprising, then, that the few women who dared to enter the elite, male-dominated aviation fraternity endured a storm of criticism and insults. They weren’t aviators, as far as men were concerned.”

    Klingensmith’s big break came in 1933 when, in conjunction with the World’s Fair in Chicago, she was signed on to fly in the national Frank Phillips Trophy Race against a field of male pilots. O’Brien compared the event to today’s Super Bowl game.

    Klingensmith would fly one of the fastest aircraft of its time, the Gee Bee Sportster built by the Granville Brothers. The stubby plane designed around a powerful radial engine, had a reputation for being difficult and dangerous to fly.

    In fact, Lowell Bayless, a pilot for the Granville Brothers, was killed while trying to set an air speed record in the plane when it lost a wing. The aircraft suffered a number of fatal crashes, but, as O’Brien wrote in his book, “Plane manufacturers had no required regulations – and instructors, no required training.”

    Thus, fatal crashes at air races were common occurrences in those days.

    A Sad Situation

    Klingensmith started the race strong, impressing spectators with her flying ability. She was in fourth place and challenging for third when disaster struck. The Bee Gee began to shed its fabric skin, causing Klingensmith to leave the race and fly away from the crowded airfield. Before she could bail out, the airplane plunged to the ground, killing her.

    Rather than demonstrating that women had the ability to compete against men, Klingensmith’s fatal crash had the opposite effect. It was said that women pilots were too weak, too easily confused to participate in air racing. One Chicago newspaper went so far as to speculate that Klingensmith might have been menstruating when she died.

    “The whole situation was so sad,” Peihl said. “She had such a great opportunity to prove herself, and she probably would have, if not for having a defective aircraft. If she would have finished third in that race, it would have been huge.”

    Although it’s taken nearly 90 years to recognize Klingensmith’s contributions to aviation history, the path she opened for women aviators is coming to light. In 2021, the city of Moorhead named its municipal airport Florence Klingensmith Field. A mural downtown and exhibits at the airport celebrate and call attention to her many accomplishments.

    Peihl’s article quotes the “Flying Parson,” Rev. J.C. Brown, who eulogized Klingensmith’s during her funeral in Moorhead.

    “If she could speak to us now, she would tell us not to lose faith in aviation because of the tragedy that ended her flying career,” Brown said. “She would say it was not usual, but in the pursuit of the thrills upon which she thrived.”

    A mural in Moorhead, Minn., honors Florence Klingensmith. Photo courtesy of The Extra Newspaper.

    Published in: Discovery, Equity, John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences

  • June 27, 2023 12:36 | 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.

  • 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

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North Dakota Aviation Association

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