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  • February 24, 2021 15:36 | Anonymous


    We are excited to bring to you Richard VanGrunsven, Founder, Van's Aircraft, as this year’s keynote for our conference. Register today so you don’t miss his session!

    (Free for NDAA members / $25 membership fee). 

    Richard VanGrunsven was raised on small family farm in western Oregon near Verboort, Oregon. His father, who had flown briefly in the mid-1930s, passed on an interest in aviation on to several of his 8 children. So, when Richard – now called Dick or “Van” -- and his older brother Jerry learned to fly, the family leveled a 670’ grass strip on the only flat acreage on their small farm. Throughout high school and college years the boys flew a Cub, and later a Taylorcraft from this tiny runway. Van’s flying included frequent flights to visit the few homebuilders of the era. Often his destination would be one of the noteworthy pioneers of experimental aviation, George Bogardus and Hobie Sorrell. Both had private airstrips that enabled Van to visit regularly.

    After gaining ratings up through CFI and finishing college with a degree in engineering, he joined the Air Force for a three-year tour. A slight color vision problem prevented his acceptance in the pilot training program. He remained active in flying, becoming a key figure in the base flying club, and owning and rebuilding two single seat homebuilts.

    The first was a rather sad performing 65 hp Stits Playboy which Van flew for a year and sold. During that time, he purchased another Playboy airframe and rebuilt it, installing a 125 hp Lycoming engine, bubble canopy, and Hoerner style wingtips. This flew much better, but still had a high landing speed, high sink rate, and only moderately good cruise speed. 

    Within a year of returning to civilian life he had designed, built and installed a set of cantilever aluminum wings to replace the strut-braced wood and fabric originals. The Playboy flew like a new airplane.  Van, following aviation tradition, used his initials and renamed it the RV-1.  Over a 3-year period, Van flew the RV-1 for 550 hours and enjoyed its performance immensely, but still, he was aware that it was a hybrid and felt something better was possible. Van figured that an airplane should be able to fly into any reasonable airstrip, have enough power and maneuverability for good basic aerobatics, and be as fast as possible. This may not seem to be a particularly inspired goal, but just consider for a minute how few airplanes actually achieve it. He reluctantly sold the RV-1 (now in the EAA Museum) and began design and construction of the RV-3. It flew for the first time in August 1971. It proved to be a delightful airplane, an improvement in every way over the RV-1. Even with its 195-mph top speed, it could operate from the short farm airstrip.

    In January 1973, Van began marketing plans and parts for the RV-3. That same year Van became a family man with his marriage to Diane, and by the end of that decade their three children were added to the family. After several years of moderate success, Van recognized a growing demand for a two-seat plane.  By 1979 he had found enough spare time to develop the tandem seat RV-4, and Van’s Aircraft’s fortunes rose. Subsequent designs – the RV-6/6A, RV-7/7A, RV-8/8A, RV-9/9A, RV-10, the Light Sport RV-12 and now the RV-14 – became the most popular line of kit-built aircraft in the world. His reputation for honesty and straight talk has gained him the respect of both his competitors and compatriots in the aviation world.  That position has made him a powerful spokesman for aviation safety, reasonable regulation and responsible flying.

    In 2021, Van continues to lead the company he founded – if not through daily hands-on management, through the business philosophy he has instilled. Van’s Aircraft is indisputably the most successful business of its kind. Weather permitting, Van commutes to his desk in the engineering office (no private office, no executive washroom, no reserved parking spot), from his 30-mile distant airstrip home, usually in an RV. Well, not every day…when the soaring conditions are good, he pulls out his electrically powered Antares self-launching sailplane and further engages his passion for flight. 


  • February 08, 2021 14:14 | Anonymous


    By Tajae Viaene

    If you find yourself reading these articles through thick glasses, in between reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” this column may just be right up your alley. Maybe you have been an aviator all of your life, yet you still want to learn more. Or perhaps you are just pondering getting started in your later years. Have no fear, the young fledgling at your local flight school may be eager to fly, but the patience and maturity that comes with age are beneficial tools that will aid you in this journey. Let’s discuss a few tips regarding flight training as a vintage aviator.

    Many times, I have initiated training for customers in their 70’s or 80’s. Quite often, at some moment during the first lessons, the question will be asked, “Do you think I can accomplish this at my age?” Well, I’m here to say that yes, you will likely not only succeed at this newfound endeavor, but feel younger and more vibrant every day you hop in the airplane, as you become that giddy little kid again!

    The art of flying takes hard work, patience, persistence, and much practice. At this point in your life, if you are able to devote the time needed for studying and regular flight training lessons, the battle is already half won. 

    You have decided it’s time to start flying, so what’s next? Go ahead and take the first step by scheduling a meeting with a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). They will bring you up to speed on the ever-changing medical requirements and tailor flight training to your unique needs. Get yourself a quality headset, as hearing loss is a cruel but nearly inevitable joke played upon us as we age. Be sure to get the right study materials to match your learning style. For instance, if you learn best by reading textbooks and taking notes, an online course is probably not the most efficient way for you to soak in the required ground knowledge. And by all means, stick with a steady plan; sequential yet timely lessons help enormously as you progress through your training requirements. 

  • February 08, 2021 14:12 | Anonymous

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced $5.8 million in research, education and training grants to universities that comprise FAA’s Air Transportation Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE).

     “These universities are making great strides in advancing the Department’s efforts to integrate UAS safely and efficiently into our Nation’s airspace system, ultimately delivering new transportation solutions and economic benefits for the American people,” Acting U.S. Secretary of Transportation Steven G. Bradbury said.

     The FAA’s Center of Excellence for UAS is advancing the administration’s transportation and economic goals that air travel provides to the nation. The Center of Excellence UAS universities received a total of $5,822,990 to advance specific goals and projects.

     “These universities are making great strides in advancing our efforts to safely and efficiently integrate UAS into our nation’s airspace system,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Each grant is designed to explore the questions that will lead to greater UAS and unmanned air carrier integration, which will ultimately deliver new transportation solutions and economic benefits for the American people.”

     More than 1.7 million recreational and commercial drones are in the active UAS fleet. That number is expected to grow to as high as 2.31 million by 2024. The ASSURE grants are aimed at continuing and enhancing the safe and successful integration of drones into the nation’s airspace system (NAS).

    The FAA has established 13 Centers of Excellence in critical topic areas focusing on: unmanned aircraft systems; alternative jet fuels and environment; general aviation safety; commercial space transportation; airliner cabin environment and intermodal transportation research; aircraft noise and aviation emissions mitigation; advanced materials; general aviation research; airworthiness assurance; operations research; airport pavement and technology; computational modeling of aircraft structures; and technical training and human performance.

    The first round of ASSURE grants for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 were awarded for the following eight (8) research areas.

     

    Air Carrier Operations–Investigate and Identify the Key Differences Between Commercial Air Carrier Operations and Unmanned Transport Operations

    This research will provide findings, recommendations and lessons learned that will enhance the FAA’s understanding of the requirements for certifying large UAS for air carrier operations.

    Specific focus of this evaluation will analyze projected demand by location (e.g. rural, exurb, suburb, or urban) and the feasibility of commercial UAS air carrier operations. It will also explore the role of autonomy in UAS vehicles beginning with operations in less risky areas such as rural locations to exurbs (areas beyond the suburbs), and then on to more populated areas of suburban and metro areas. This exploration will focus on the passenger transportation environment, and investigate the workforce impact of this new capability. 

    Kansas State University – Lead University

    $220,000

    University of Alaska, Fairbanks

    $150,000

    North Carolina State University

    $150,000

    University of North Dakota

    $130,000

    The Ohio State University

    $149,745

     

    UAS Cargo Operations–From Manned Cargo to UAS Cargo Operations: Future Trends, Performance, Reliability, and Safety Characteristics Towards Integration into the NAS

    This research will evaluate the feasibility of commercial UAS cargo operations together with the projected demand by location. Furthermore, the research will detail anticipated needs of the FAA to support further integration of UAS cargo operations, including how greater autonomy may provide an improved level of safety. 

    University of Alaska, Fairbanks – Lead University

    $240,000

    Kansas State University

    $125,000

    University of Alabama, Huntsville

    $124,987

    North Carolina State University

    $125,000

    University of North Dakota

    $60,000

    The Ohio State University

    $124,996

     

    High-Bypass UAS Engine Ingestion Test

    Inclusion of large numbers of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) into the NAS may pose unique hazards to manned aircraft. It is necessary to determine the potential severity of sUAS mid-air collisions with manned aircraft to define an Equivalent Level of Safety for UAS operations. Since sUAS are not similar to any other foreign body (e.g. bird, ice, volcanic ash) that the FAA currently regulates, understanding the severity of an ingestion is critical to being able to estimate the extent of potential damage.

     

    The Ohio State University – Lead University

    $340,000

    Wichita State University

    $100,000

     

    Small UAS (sUAS) Mid-Air Collision (MAC) Likelihood

    This research focuses on sUAS MAC likelihood analysis with general aviation (GA) and commercial aircraft. Because severity research varies based on where a collision occurred on a manned aircraft, this likelihood research will not only look at the probability of a MAC, but also the likelihood of colliding with different parts of a manned aircraft. 

    Wichita State University – Lead University

    $464,000

    Kansas State University

    $220,000

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

    $215,000

    University of Kansas

    $160,000

     

    Mitigating GPS and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) Risks for UAS

    This research is necessary to enable safe and secure automated sUAS navigation and safe and secure automated sUAS Detect and Avoid operations. Unvalidated or unavailable GPS and “ADS-B In” data poses security and safety risks to automated UAS navigation and to Detect and Avoid operations. Erroneous, spoofed, jammed, or drop outs of GPS data may result in unmanned aircraft position and navigation being incorrect. 

    University of North Dakota – Lead University

    $325,000

    Kansas State University

    $135,000

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

    $135,000

    Oregon State University

    $100,000

    University of Alaska, Fairbanks

    $135,000

     

    Shielded UAS Operations–Detect and Avoid (DAA)

    This research is intended to identify risks and recommend solutions to the FAA that can enable shielded UAS operations such as a flight within close proximity to existing obstacles and not to exceed the height of the obstacle. This effort will identify risks, determine whether shielded operations can be made safe, to what degree UAS Detect and Avoid requirements can be reduced, and recommend UAS standoff distances from manned aircraft and ground obstacles, including buildings and air traffic control towers.


    University of North Dakota – Lead University

    $430,000

    Kansas State University

    $110,000

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

    $150,000

    New Mexico State University

    $140,000

    North Carolina State University

    $95,000

     

    Validation of Visual Operation Standards for Small UAS (sUAS)

     This research will measure Visual Observer (VO)/Remote Pilot (RP) performance in avoiding other aircraft and hazards, identify and estimate potential failures, and inform recommendations for training standards. The research will help the FAA and industry consensus standards bodies, such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), to better understand the safety performance and challenges associated with VO/RP visual line of sight operations to include Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS). Under EVLOS, the small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) is beyond the visual range of an observer but any manned aircraft are still within visual detection range of the ground observer. Research outcomes may also potentially inform recommendations for future regulatory updates to Part 107, the FAA’s Small UAS Rule.

     

    Kansas State University – Lead University

    $190,000

    Wichita State University

    $120,000

    Mississippi State University

    $70,000

    New Mexico State University

    $120,000

     

    UAS Flight Data Research in support of Aviation Safety Information and Sharing (ASIAS)

     This research will help pull together different flight data sources including high quality UAS flight data, commercial and general aviation flight data, and surveillance data. This data will be utilized to enhance the development of safety case analyses for NAS stakeholders (e.g. operators, regulators, and certification authorities) and to support the approval of new UAS operations in the NAS.


    University of North Dakota – Lead University

    $393,693

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

    $75,569


  • February 08, 2021 14:09 | Anonymous


    BThe problem with flying Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is that it’s incredibly prohibitive and not repeatable, scalable, or economically viable - yet. The requirements to make it possible – extensive research and technology development, building out infrastructure, testing and validation, securing regulatory approvals, creating an advanced safety case – take years to meet and are simply unrealistic for most single-use cases. Imagine if everyone had to build their own road to travel further than their own yard, and had to individually negotiate approvals for what they’d be able to do and how they’d be able to do it, once they did. Imagine there being separate roads, regulatory approvals, safety measures, and building procedures, for the USPS, FedEx, and UPS. One for fire engines, one for ambulances, and one for police. One for every different trucking company. It’s expensive, it’s inefficient, and it just doesn’t make sense. 

    It’s a first-of-its-kind, turnkey product that will enable BVLOS flights across the state without the overwhelming upfront investment of “building your own road.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that there is nothing in this country like Vantis; it is truly a revolutionary first step towards opening up the skies for UAS operations. Administered by North Dakota’s homegrown center of UAS expertise, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), Vantis infrastructure is already being installed at key sites in McKenzie and Williams Counties with a Mission and Network Operations Center (MNOC) in Grand Forks County. 


    Improving Quality of Life

    Enabling commonplace BVLOS flights for public and commercial use cases isn’t just an exciting advancement in the UAS industry, it’s a boon for North Dakotans, who will be able to reap the benefits for decades to come. As Northern Plains UAS Test Site executive director Nicholas Flom is fond of saying, North Dakota doesn’t have a last mile problem, it has a last hundred-mile problem. North Dakota isn’t just rural; 36 of our 53 counties are designated as frontier counties, meaning they have a population density of fewer than six people per square mile. Traditionally, this has posed challenges related to meeting the needs of our citizens. Mail and package deliveries take longer. Access to healthcare is more limited than in cities, and wait times on medical test results are longer. They are often last to receive technological developments. This was true when electrical infrastructure was being built out, and continues to be true with deployment of high-speed internet infrastructure. There are miles and miles of roads between rural North Dakotans and population centers that need consistent maintenance and inspection. Following a storm or a natural disaster, those long roads need to be safe before emergency responders can arrive or before technicians can be deployed to fix critical infrastructure, like downed power lines after a blizzard. 

    People often frame this as a disadvantage, but Flom believes it’s an opportunity. “Unique problems just mean that we need a unique solution – and luckily, North Dakota is an entrepreneurial state.” 

    When people think of commercial UAS operations, package delivery is often what they think of. It’s true that Vantis will open the door to fast, efficient deliveries for retail items, as well as things like medications for people who receive theirs by mail. But there is a much larger scope of what is possible. Rural residents, who may have to wait days to get test results back from the lab in the nearest big city, could see a much quicker turn-around. Quicker results mean quicker treatment, which often means better outcomes. 

    This is also true for emergency response. Following a natural disaster, returning electricity to a rural hospital is imperative. Locating lost hikers or people who may have been stranded in a storm, providing first aid supplies to the scene of an accident before ambulances arrive, or getting communication equipment to someone injured and stranded in a rural location, who just needs to remain calm and know that help is on the way. Doing these things quickly can be a matter of life and death. 

    Not only does Vantis have the potential to make North Dakotans safer, it is poised to improve their lives. Quick, safe, and efficient rail inspections not only reduce the risk of dangerous crashes and derailments, they also reduce the risk of costly delays and expensive maintenance that contribute to higher prices. Extensive road and bridge inspections not only make North Dakotans safer, they mean that we get better gas mileage and hit fewer bumps in the road on the way to visit relatives over the holidays. It means we are all back on the road sooner after a flood, a blizzard, or a tornado. Monitoring wells and pipelines to respond to spills quickly, or catch them before they happen, means a thriving energy industry in the state and clean, unspoiled natural spaces for outdoor recreation and tourism. Agriculture is the heart of North Dakota’s economy; UAS surveys can help improve crop yields, track herds, and produce more food for the country and for export. Vantis will help North Dakota farmers work smarter, not harder. 

    These opportunities for commercialization using UAS do not exist elsewhere in the United States, because Vantis is literally the first of its kind. The development of this network will draw in business from around the country. However, it will also inspire exciting innovation right here in the state. It makes sense, as our state already has all the components needed to support UAS education, training, research, and commercialization.


    Why North Dakota? 

    North Dakota has been one of a handful of leaders in UAS innovation across the country. The University of North Dakota and North Dakota State University are home to experts with decades of experience in aviation and UAS technology. The Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) specializes in UAS flights. In 2013, NPUASTS was selected to be one of only seven Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated UAS test sites. Since then, UAS businesses have been flourishing here and the nation’s first UAS business and aviation park, Grand Sky, opened at the Grand Forks Air Force Base. The NPUASTS, in partnership with North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT), was a lead participant in the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP), whose goal was to explore how to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace system (NAS); NPUASTS, along with the NDDOT, was further selected to participate in the second iteration of the IPP, known as BEYOND. North Dakota is on the cutting edge of UAS flight beyond visual line of sight in this country. 

    It’s no exaggeration to say that North Dakota is uniquely positioned as a leader in UAS advancements. We’re also supported by state leaders and partners, who believe in Vantis. 

    One of the missions of Vantis is to leverage existing infrastructure and capabilities deployed throughout the state. The NDDOT owns and operates towers throughout the state, which Vantis will be able to use to install remote infrastructure. The North Dakota Information Technology Department (NDIT) manages a network called STAGEnet, which Vantis will use to support the backhaul network. The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) works with each of the 89 public-use airports in the state, a tremendous asset when Vantis needs access to or contacts at these airports. The North Dakota Department of Commerce is the funding agency that provides strategic guidance for Vantis. 

    Senator John Hoeven has been a long-time advocate for the development of a thriving UAS ecosystem in North Dakota. Governor Doug Burgum is second to none when it comes to supporting leading-edge initiatives. Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford chairs the Northern Plains Unmanned Systems Authority, which is directly responsible for the execution of Vantis. North Dakota’s legislature has been incredibly supportive of UAS initiatives in the state and of Vantis in particular, approving the initial investment to begin building out the infrastructure and make North Dakota the nation’s UAS epicenter. 

    It’s not only North Dakotans who see the incredible value of a network like Vantis. In 2019, NPUASTS hosted an industry day to outline the vision for Vantis and to announce the upcoming competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) for the selection of three system engineers/system integrators. Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies Company, L3Harris Technologies, and Thales USA bring decades of safety experience in manned aviation, as well as cutting-edge UAS technology to the table. Each of these giants in aviation technology has been involved in the development of the network. L3Harris Technologies and Thales USA were selected to build out the initial key sites. Volansi’s VOLY C10 was selected as the aircraft to test and validate Vantis. It will ensure the safety and reliability of the network and perform use-case development flights.


    The Future of UAS 

    Integral to Vantis’ success will be the Mission Network and Operations Center (MNOC), which is currently under construction at Grand Sky Business and Aviation Park in Grand Forks county, attached to the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Grand Sky is the only park of its kind in the country, assisted in its innovative capabilities by that relationship and proximity to the Air Force base. The MNOC will function as a command center, connecting all of the remote sites across the state, including towers and airports that house Vantis technology infrastructure, to the backhaul data network. Top of the line, aviation-grade technology will ensure that Vantis is safe and reliable by monitoring the health of the network and identifying problems before they can impact flights. 

    Because nothing like Vantis exists in this country, nothing like the MNOC exists either. This is infrastructure that is designed to grow with Vantis as it develops and grows, as the UAS industry is evolving rapidly, both in terms of technology but also in terms of regulations. For example, the FAA recently announced final rules for Remote Identification (Remote ID) of drones. These rules would allow for small UAS to fly over people and at night under certain conditions or circumstances that one would normally require a waiver. This change will facilitate greater integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. The NPUASTS is assessing the implementation of these rules and their incorporation into Vantis for the benefit of both unmanned and manned aviation. Once incorporated, the conditions in which Vantis can operate are significantly expanded. 

    y Nicole P. Ingalls-Caley, Marketing Manager at the Northern Plains UAS Test Site


  • February 08, 2021 14:08 | Anonymous


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


    By Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • February 08, 2021 14:06 | Anonymous


    By Rich Altendorf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • February 08, 2021 14:04 | Anonymous

    By Dennis K. Johnson

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

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

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


    International Peace Garden

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


    IPG Airport (S28)

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


    COVID 19 and Customs

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


  • February 08, 2021 14:03 | Anonymous


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Join us, it’s a formation flight. 


  • February 08, 2021 14:01 | Anonymous

    To contribute to the Jim Lawler Memorial Scholarship Fund, visit: www.fly-nd.com/Donate. The scholarship will be awarded to a student pursuing an airport management degree.


  • February 08, 2021 13:58 | Anonymous

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


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

    Justin flying with his Grandpa Roger


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

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

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

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

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

    By Justin Ormiston, NDPA Flight Training Scholarship Recipient


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