By Connor Murphy
‘And given that the U.S. is home to the world’s busiest airports, we might have been No. 1 in the world,’ UND’s chief flight instructor says.
UND’s full schedule of student flight training in early March helped Grand Forks International Airport lead the nation in tower operations. Historically, GFK is among the top 25 airports in the nation each year for take-offs and landings. UND archival image.
Watch out, LaGuardia, and move over, O’Hare:
According to official Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) numbers, Grand Forks International Airport (GFK) was the busiest airport in the nation for a streak of days in early March.
Specifically, GFK’s combination of passenger flights and UND flight training traffic topped all airports in the United States on March 1-3 as well as on March 8.
The feat was noticed by GFK’s air traffic controllers, as all airports are required to report traffic data to the FAA. Air traffic numbers take weeks to become official, and today, the FAA confirmed the early March reports.
In such a case, Grand Forks didn’t trounce the likes of Atlanta and Chicago by numbers of passengers flown, but by the amount of instructions to take off or land – referred to as operations – issued by its control tower.
During the multi-day streak, GFK’s tower relayed as many as 2,000 instructions to pilots taking off and landing in a given day.
Historically, UND’s full schedule of student flights put GFK in the top 25 busiest airports nearly every year.
And while the coronavirus pandemic shuttered UND Flight Operations for a time in 2020, the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences has since regained its momentum – topping the national operations charts a year later.
“With the reduced amount of airline traffic, general aviation airports have been moving up the busy list,” said Jeremy Roesler, UND’s chief flight instructor, referring to the University’s year-round operation at GFK. “We have appeared in the top 10 in the past, but it’s unusual to see this type of thing happen for consecutive days.
“And given that the United States is home to the world’s busiest airports, we might have been No. 1 in the world earlier this month.”