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  • March 02, 2023 11:19 | Anonymous

    In early November, the Dickinson Airport opened their new Primary Runway 14/32, after a long reconstruction and expansion project. The project shifted and expanded the runway from a length of 6400 ft. to 7300 ft. It also included the construction of a full-length parallel taxiway, which operated as a temporary runway for two years while the main runway was under construction. Also included in this project was the installation of a new Instrument Landing System (ILS.) The overall project took four years to complete and the airport was fully operational throughout the construction period. Completion of this project ensures that current and future commercial aircraft will have a runway that meets all current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for safety areas. The new runway also has an increased weight bearing capacity, allowing larger aircraft to operate without waivers. Congratulations, Dickinson!

  • March 02, 2023 11:13 | Anonymous

    Generally, our weather decisions are based on experience, book knowledge, and a willingness to reduce whatever risk we find in the process. I believe all of us do what we can to stay legal; where we fall short in the process is recognizing the potential outcome, based on the weather data we find. Current and forecast weather conditions are just the first step towards your Go or No-Go decision. Enroute weather or what you see out the window affects our immediate decision making, but did we plan for unforecast conditions? Knowing your personal weather minimums and pre-planning is where risk levels change, for better or for worse.

    Setting personal weather thresholds is all about taking an honest examination of your experience level and setting boundaries on what your skill and experience affords you to safely operate. The key to effective thresholds is being honest with yourself, identifying what makes you uneasy, scares you, or maybe what weather you have just never had to consider. 

    Let’s take a look at a short inventory of weather related questions that you may need to consider for your day-to-day flying:

    Crosswinds (Of course, this IS North Dakota):

    Keeping in mind that the Maximum Demonstrated X-Wind component of your aircraft is NOT a limitation. A combination of aircraft aerodynamics and your ability to manage control are the limitations! Consider the following:

    When was the last time you operated in significant crosswinds? 

    How many crosswind landings have you accomplished in the last month, three months, or year?

    How confident were you when operating in those conditions? 

    Did you walk away from the airplane thinking, “That was a bit scary?”


    Are you comfortable flying above small temperature and dew point spreads at night? 

    How marginal of a ceiling is too marginal? (i.e. “The last time I flew with a 1500’ ceiling it was stressful”, or “I became so distracted trying to read what the clouds were telling me that I lost situational awareness.”)

    How marginal IS marginal visibility to you? (i.e. Light snow with 6SM visibility or you want nothing falling from the sky?)

    Icing (Assuming the aircraft is rated for icing conditions):

    How much icing is too much for you or the aircraft (i.e. light rime or moderate clear etc?)

    What icing types would you rather not deal with? Can you anticipate weather patterns that favor those types?

    When was the last time you flew in icing conditions?

    It’s been years since you encountered ice during a flight, AIRMETs along your route are forecasting moderate icing, no PIREPS are available. Are you going to alter your route or fly through the AIRMET?

    Are you comfortable flying across a warm front in winter?

    The answers to these questions can be discussed with your local Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) or maybe it’s time to get back into the books and refresh your knowledge on these topics. Either way, considerations must be given before you go flying.

    Beyond the items listed above you may consider using a Flight Risk Analysis Tool (FRAT.) These tools are available through most industry providers and my favorite website:

    WINGS Proficiency Program needs you - Join today! Safety is a motivated action which requires attention, skill, and refreshment throughout time.

    Fly Safe!

    Jay M. Flowers, Safety Educator, Airline Transport Pilot, CFI, Fellow Aviator

  • March 02, 2023 11:08 | Anonymous

    Military aviation is an important part of our state’s aviation community. In this spotlight, we highlight some of our local military aviators, who represent North Dakota around the world, and share their stories with you. We thank them for their dedicated service to our country and community. Our spotlight this issue features Andy “Comma” Niemyer, a retired Captain in the U.S. Navy.

    Q: What is your hometown? 

    I am California-born, but have lived in North Dakota from 1990 to 2002 and from 2021 to present, both in Bismarck and Fargo.

    Q: What was your job title? What did your work include? 

    At the time we moved to North Dakota, I was a Commander in the Navy and was flying as a Bombardier-Navigator in the Grumman A-6 Intruder with a West Coast Navy Reserve squadron. I later served with two Joint USCG-USN units and then was a lecturer and instructor training various Navy Battle Group staff. I finally commanded a small unit based out of the Minneapolis International Airport.

    Q: What inspired you to join the military? 

    I grew up next to the original home of US Naval Aviation, Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, CA. Naval Aviation and the Navy was all around me. With the Vietnam War still going on and a possibility of being drafted after college graduation, I found out about opportunities to enlist in the Navy and then apply for officer training. That seemed like a great idea! 

    Q: How many years of service did you have? 

    I served for 31 years and six months, including an initial 18 months as an enlisted sailor and officer candidate at the end of the Vietnam War, from 1972 to 1973.

    Q: What was the most rewarding part of your time in the military? 

    The people, the places, the challenges and the chance to fly in Navy aircraft world-wide.

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

    Not too long after moving to Bismarck, I immediately began renting General Aviation (GA) aircraft; I attended my first Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium (UMAS), joined the former North Dakota Pilots Association (NDPA), and became involved in the North Dakota Aviation Council (NDAC). I helped with UMAS, NDPA annual presentations, and then became the Editor-in-Chief of the Quarterly. In the meantime, I flew and owned a couple of planes out of KBIS. I’m now based out of KFAR and still active in GA activities.

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

    You will never, ever have an opportunity like the one presented to you by applying for and being selected for military flight training. You will be presented unique challenges, unparalleled training, given the chance to fly in some of the world’s most advanced and unique aircraft and make friendships that will last a lifetime. As you do this, you will gain life skills and self-discipline that will serve you a lifetime, no matter what you end up doing with the rest of your life. And, should you succeed, you will join an incredibly small and unique cadre of peers with whom you will share a fantastic set of world-wide adventures and experiences, no matter how long you serve.

  • March 02, 2023 11:06 | Anonymous

    A national defense authorization bill passed by the U.S. House December 8 on a 350-80 vote includes language reflecting the advocacy work of AOPA that will eliminate an FAA policy change made in 2021 that requires pilots—and their flight instructors—to obtain a letter of deviation authority (LODA) to give or receive flight training in experimental aircraft.

    Disregarding decades of precedent, the FAA changed its tune on flight training and in July 2021 issued a directive requiring certain aircraft owners and flight instructors providing flight training in experimental aircraft to obtain a LODA in order to conduct flight training.

    The new policy and its requirements drew backlash and confusion from AOPA and other aviation associations who argued that the directive was nothing more than a paperwork exercise that did nothing to enhance safety—and in fact achieved quite the opposite. Following its release, nearly 40,000 pilots were grounded overnight. Even the FAA Administrator at that time, Steve Dickson, called the LODA a “four-letter word.”

    AOPA championed an effort to reverse the FAA directive. With the strong support from Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) and Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a provision to eliminate the LODA requirement was included in the final defense authorization bill.

    “The FAA legal office has turned the definition of flight training upside down and this provision is only the first step in getting us back to where we were and where we need to be. Flight training is a safety issue and we don’t need anything that impacts that in a negative way,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “AOPA appreciates the bipartisan effort of members of Congress and our allies in the GA community for addressing this issue. We will continue to work with our friends in Congress to take the next step and codify the definition of flight training that has been used for more than 60 years.”

    The bill is expected to pass the Senate soon and arrive on the president’s desk for signature.

  • March 02, 2023 11:03 | Anonymous

    I am excited to be joining the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) team as their new airport planner for Western North Dakota! I grew up in Pierre, SD, where I graduated from T.F. Riggs High School in 2015. I attended the University of North Dakota (UND), graduating in August of 2020 with a B.B.A. majoring in Aviation Management. I also have my Commercial Pilot’s License ASEL/AMEL, and have two years of experience as a line technician before finding my new home with the NDAC.

    My love for aviation was very prominent early in my life. I would beg for any toy, or Lego set, that had anything to do with planes. When we first moved to Pierre in 2007, my favorite part of our new house was the amazing view of the airport from our living room window. I first got a taste of flying on my 14th birthday, when my mom organized for a family friend to take me up on a scenic flight in a Cessna 172. I was absolutely terrified, but by the time we got back on the ground I was forever hooked. Thus began my addiction, and I knew I wanted to pursue aviation as a career. My next step was UND, where I had an amazing college experience from 2015-2020. Some of my favorite memories were made at UND: joining the hockey team in Tampa Bay and watching them become national champions in 2016; flying next to thunderstorms for my summer internship with Weather Mod; and the best, of course, was meeting my future wife, Michaela, on our first day of band camp during freshman year.

    When I’m not working or flying, I have plenty of hobbies to keep myself busy. Music is another passion of mine; I can’t have a road trip without losing my voice from screaming in the car. I love to stay active with my wife, rollerblading and swimming in the summer, and pretending we know how to play hockey in the winter. I’m also quite a gamer as well, including Xbox, PlayStation, and my own PC which I built myself a few years ago.

    I am extremely thankful for the NDAC team for giving me this wonderful opportunity. I am ready to get to know aviation from a whole new perspective, and I cannot wait to help our airports and aviation industry grow across our beautiful state of North Dakota!

    Blue skies and buttery landings, Grant Erwin

  • March 02, 2023 10:57 | Anonymous

    The Happy Hooligans’ 178th Attack Squadron celebrated receiving the 2021 Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ General Atomics Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Squadron of the Year Trophy Dec. 9, 2022 at the Fargo Air Museum, Fargo, N.D. (National Guard story and photos by Senior Master Sgt. Michael Knodle, 119th Wing Public Affairs)

    The 178th is the first National Guard unit to earn this award, presented annually for outstanding performance by RPA squadrons in achieving intelligence, surveillance, persistent attack, and reconnaissance over the preceding year.

    Major General Steven Nordhaus, director, Air National Guard Readiness Center, renders remarks as the keynote speaker of the award presentation, Fargo, Dec. 9, 2022.

    Article reprinted with permission from the North Dakota National Guard. 

  • March 02, 2023 10:53 | Anonymous

    Have you had a chance to start your journey collecting stamps for the North Dakota Passport Program? If you enjoy flying, or more important,landing, then the Passport Program has just what you are looking for. After getting a program book, start collecting stamps at all 89 airports around the state and earn some prizes in the process. Always check NOTAMS and make a safety determination based on your skill, the aircraft you are flying, the current weather, and any other considerations you have prior to flight. If you arrive at an airport but are unable to land as a result of the weather, current field conditions or other reasons, you may request a sticker from our office to include in your book. If you have completed the Passport Program, you may be interested in learning that there are a number of other states with similar programs. Each has their own rules, but most are similar to North Dakota. 

    We have a couple of changes coming to the Passport Program that you should be aware of, if you have not yet completed the program. First, a change already implemented this year is the number of required airports. Some of our airport environments can be extra challenging. This may be because of obstacles, rough terrain, etc. We have changed the requirement to land at nine of the airports in North Dakota. The following airports are now considered optional for completion of the passport program: 









    St. Thomas 

    Pilots completing the Passport Program will not need to contact our office for a sticker, if you choose to or are unable to land at these airports. 

    An additional change that is in the works for the Passport Program is the addition of digital check-ins. This opportunity will eliminate the need to carry a physical book and receive physical stamps. Though we are not ready to go live with the digital program, it should be ready to go by this spring or summer. Watch our social media for more information. The digital Passport data will be collected through the AOPA app. Currently, functionality exists to check in at airports but these check-ins do NOT count toward the North Dakota Passport Program. Only check ins after the “go live” date will be eligible. Pilots will have the opportunity to use either method of collecting stamps and will have the ability to combine digital check ins with your physical book for Passport awards. 

    If you have any questions about the Passport Program, do not hesitate to reach out to the NOrth Dakota Aeronautics Commission office. I look forward to seeing many of you at the Passport awards Sunday, March 5, 2023, at the Fly-ND Conference in Bismarck, ND!

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • March 02, 2023 10:48 | Anonymous

    The 2023 North Dakota Legislative Session began on Tuesday, January 3, 2023 This is an opportunity for us to engage with our legislators for the betterment of aviation and airports in our state. We have experienced great success in recent sessions, because we have worked together and made compelling cases to support our initiatives. I would like to brief you on our No. 1 priority for the 2023 Session: to improve the Operation Prairie Dog Infrastructure Funding Program.

    During the 2019 Legislative Session, the North Dakota legislature passed Operation Prairie Dog to support infrastructure development throughout the state. This 2019 appropriations bill included allocations of Municipal/County & Township Infrastructure Funds for the non-oil producing areas of the state, and $20 million for a new Airport Infrastructure Fund. These infrastructure funds were placed at the bottom of a series of buckets that are filled by streams from both the Oil & Gas Production Tax and Extraction Tax. However, a $400 million bucket for the Strategic Investments and Improvements Fund (SIIF) was placed in front of the infrastructure funds. This $400 million bucket was never proposed as part of the original Prairie Dog program. It was placed in front of the other infrastructure funds coming out of the joint Senate and House Conference Committee in 2019. In that sense, it was a surprise to many policymakers, including sponsors of the original Prairie Dog bill. Due to a substantial downturn in oil prices and production, largely because of a drop in energy demands as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the infrastructure funds failed to fill during the 2019-2021 biennium.

    During the 2021 Legislative Session, Prairie Dog remained intact. At the end of the 2021 Legislative Session, it was forecasted that the infrastructure funds would not fill during the 2021-2023 biennium. This meant cities, counties, townships, and airports were unable to rely on this funding source, as they planned and prepared for projects within the current biennium. Reliable state and local funding for transportation projects is critical in order for state and local leaders to plan ahead, create shovel ready projects, and to maximize federal grant funding. It is also important to ensure that high priority projects can move forward as efficiently as possible throughout the planning, environmental, design, bidding, and construction stages. 

    The $400 million SIIF Fund started to fill in May 2022. Without that fund, the other infrastructure funds would have started to fill in May 2022 and would have all been filled before the end of summer 2022. The $400 million SIIF Fund is simply cash accumulated by the state. It is not programmed for any use, until the next legislative session determines how to allocate it. In the meantime, the infrastructure planning for cities, counties, townships, and airports waits for another season to begin projects – exposing them to inflation risks and delaying important infrastructure planning and projects throughout the state. The executive budget forecasts that the SIIF Fund will be over $1 billion by the end of the current biennium.

    Our request is to eliminate the $400 million SIIF Fund allocation placed ahead of the infrastructure funds and let it fill at the end of the stream, as originally contemplated in the Operation Prairie Dog bill. The Airport Association of North Dakota, North Dakota League of Cities, and North Dakota Association of Counties are supportive of this change. This is a great example of how we can work together to implement change and make an improvement for our state and aviation system. Please help us support this priority by reaching out to your legislators and discussing this proposed change in the Operation Prairie Dog Infrastructure Funding Program.

    We are also excited for the upcoming FLY-ND Conference to be held March 5-7, 2023, in Bismarck, ND. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend. This will be another great opportunity to meet with legislators and tell our story about how to improve our aviation system for the future.

    Keep ‘em flying!

    By Ryan Riesinger

    President, Airport Association of North Dakota

    Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority

  • March 02, 2023 10:45 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame committee announces that Rodney Schaaf has been selected for induction into the state’s Aviation Hall of Fame. Rodney will join the prestigious aviation hall of fame group that currently includes 47 other individuals who have all had a significant impact on the growth, development, and promotion of aviation in North Dakota. For more information on the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame, visit

     B. Schaaf was born July 20, 1950 in Hettinger, ND. After graduating from Bowman High School in 1968, Rodney attended North Dakota State University and joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following his graduation in 1972, Rodney joined the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to pilot training. There he was named a Distinguished Pilot Graduate, with a top 10 standing within the class.

    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 Korea. During his military service, Rodney achieved the rank of Captain. His missions included refueling aircraft returning from the skies over Vietnam during the conflict. He also acted in the commander role for formation flights of up to six KC-135 tanker aircraft refueling four fighters per tanker, moving 30 aircraft to different military bases.

    Following his honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1978, Rodney was hired as a pilot for Delta Airlines and continued a successful career through his retirement in 2004. As a Delta pilot, he flew the Boeing 727, 737, 757, 767, and MD82 airliners.

    Rodney has been an active member of the North Dakota aviation community throughout his life. 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 North Dakota. Rodney also continually advocates for youth aviation education and development. Throughout the years, he has actively participated in many different aviation related events within North Dakota, as well as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo. 

    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. Through his involvement at the airport, he also helped to coordinate and assist with activities at the airport that included 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. He has even been known to offer his hangar space to visiting pilots and their aircraft, when severe weather occurs.

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

    Rodney has also been involved in efforts that would improve all of North Dakota’s airports. He has been involved in statewide initiatives with the Airport Association of North Dakota and he has provided testimony before state legislative committees to help promote airport funding initiatives for construction and maintenance projects, representing the “Little Guy” general aviation airports. 

    Additionally, he has advocated for aviation efforts across North Dakota and has been especially proactive with the Powder River MOA. He has worked with Air Force and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) staff members in addition to state personnel in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana to advocate for and improve the experience for General Aviation. His tireless efforts have been effective to enhance radar coverage, radio communications, instrument approach procedures, and other considerations that enhance safety for aviators.

    In addition to his dedication to promoting aviation across North Dakota, Rodney has also been

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

    Rodney’s leadership and support throughout his lifetime has led to significant developments and growth in aviation for the state of North Dakota. The aviation hall of fame committee thanks Rodney for his service and is looking forward to his induction this Spring.

    The induction ceremony will take place in Bismarck, at the annual Fly-ND Conference on Tuesday, March 7, 2023, at the Bismarck Hotel and Conference Center. The social will begin at 6 p.m. and the banquet begins at 7 p.m. To learn more about the state’s aviation conference or to purchase tickets for the awards ceremony, visit Questions can be directed to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission at 701-328-9650.

  • March 02, 2023 10:37 | Anonymous

    A new legislative session has arrived and elected leaders from around the state will be hard at work discussing how to best position North Dakota for the future. I am happy to report that the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) has successfully prioritized our budget request and our initial agency bill has provided a strategically sound starting point for legislators. Our priorities are to ensure that adequate state support is provided for airport infrastructure projects and aviation workforce development initiatives throughout the following 2023-2025 biennium. 

    At the start of the session, NDAC staff was able to attend an “Information Day” at the capitol, where we met with legislators to discuss our operations and to promote the positive impacts and benefits of aviation. At the event, we also invited them to try their skills on a flight simulator. The simulation had the operator taking off from the Bismarck Airport, climbing to a safe altitude above the capitol building, and then turning back to attempt to land the aircraft on a runway. It was safe to say that the experience left them both smiling and impressed with the skills and training needed to become a competent pilot.

    In my discussions at the capitol, I am invigorated in the fact that the story we can tell our elected leaders is truly remarkable. Looking back a decade ago, we were met with an astounding level of airport development requests, due to the economic expansion and significant energy production growth that the state was experiencing. Since that time, our legislators have afforded us and our communities with the opportunity to provide additional investments into both airport infrastructure and youth aviation education programming. The results of these efforts are now easy to see.

    We have had great success in working with the FAA, airport sponsors, and their airport engineering teams to strategically prioritize projects to significantly update our system of airports. We have also worked hard to partner with the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA,) aviation museums, and high school programs throughout the state to grow youth aviation programming to the strongest point it has ever been. Our state currently boasts a record level of aviation activity in multiple areas that include air cargo levels, active pilots living within the state, and based aircraft counts. Commercial airline traffic is also strong and has almost fully recovered from COVID-19 impacts, as our state has surpassed 1 million passenger enplanements in 2022. In fact, we are currently exploring the need to expand multiple commercial terminal buildings in North Dakota. As the legislative session continues to unfold, I look forward to more conversations with our elected leaders to further discuss the aviation industry’s successes as well as its current needs and priorities. 

    If you are interested in learning more about our agency’s budget and would like to listen to the discussions on current and future priorities, please visit the legislative website at and search for House Bill 1006. On this website, you can also find and review my presentation and testimony materials, which has a wealth of information on the current status of North Dakota’s aviation system.  

    I want to also encourage all of you to stay engaged with the legislative process by keeping in touch with your elected officials and by utilizing the bill tracking system that can also be found on the legislative website. As legislation comes forward regarding elements that have a factor on aviation, I will be in direct communication with the NDAC and the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND) as we work through any critical issues. I also encourage you to contact me directly to share any concerns or relevant information that you may have on pending legislation. 

    Lastly, I also hope that you are able to join us March 5-7, 2023, for the Fly-ND Conference that will be held in Bismarck. As always, NDAC staff, NDAA board members, and local volunteers have been hard at work preparing an exceptional program for all aviation enthusiasts to enjoy. I sincerely hope that you can take the time to come network with other aviators and to overall celebrate your love of aviation with us.

    Wishing you smooth flying, Kyle

    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

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