By Ryan Thayer, CEO/Executive Director, Fargo Air Museum
Hello! My name is Ryan Thayer and I am the CEO/Executive Director at the Fargo Air Museum (FAM). I have been part of aviation since birth, received my solo license at 16, and my private pilot’s license at 18 from UND. My father was my aviation mentor. He was a flight instructor and charter pilot when I was born and transitioned into Air Traffic Control in Fargo, ND. From there he went on to a career in commercial aviation with Republic Airways, Northwest Airlines, and most recently he retired from Delta Air Lines as a 757/767 Captain. Through my father, I found my love and interest for aviation flying, as we were always dreaming and talking about our flying stories.
Early on in my childhood, ever since I learned to talk, I dreamed of being a pilot. From going to the Fargo and Grand Forks air shows, to flying with my dad, to riding along with him on his Northwest Airlines flights, and even trips to the maintenance hangars, it created an excitement and passion in me for our amazing industry!
After high school, I chose to attend the University of North Dakota (UND) to earn an Airline Transport Degree and ratings. Shortly after receiving my private pilot›s license, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 took place and the airlines stopped hiring and fought just to stay in business. At that point, I decided that it was not the career for me at that time. I transitioned into the Entrepreneurship Program at UND and graduated with a bachelors in Business and a private pilot›s license. Ever since then, I have kept my eyes open for future opportunities to become involved in aviation again. After starting and running many businesses through my career, I found an opening at the Fargo Air Museum looking for a business and marketing specialist to run the Museum as the CEO/Director. It was finally my way back into my love and my passion – aviation!
Vultee BT-13 Valiant
Aviation is such an amazing industry, where anyone can come from anywhere and be successful. We need doctors, maintenance technicians, pilots, technology experts, engineers, business and marketing professionals, to name a few. Almost any degree can be a fit for the aviation industry. Education is a large part of what we do at the FAM. From our free camps to our highly interactive Intro to Aviation courses, there is something always going on at the FAM to continue sharing our love and passion for aviation.
Our Drone Cage
Finding a passion in a career is not an easy task for most of us. I was very lucky to have the experiences with my father while growing up. If I were to offer any advice to future students, I would say to follow your heart and your passions and do something you truly love! The path is not always easy, but it›s truly the challenges that help make us who we are in the end. I highly recommend having a goal and a plan to accomplish what you are seeking, but be ready for pivots and changes along the way; it makes the journey exciting and fun.
Here at the FAM, we are always looking for ways to engage our guests and to create interactive and memorable experiences. We are hard at work planning a very busy and exciting summer. The events we are hosting include:
The First Annual Aviation Career Expo in partnership with the NDAA - May 14
An Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-In - May 15
Our annual Golf Tournament - June 21
The Fargo AirSho - July 24-25
Our monthly Veterans Coffee Hour - the second Wednesday of each month
Our Youth Camp - three times each month
Lastly, we have also been working hard on securing new aircraft into the museum with a potential North American F-86 Sabre, Northrop F-5E, Stinson Reliant Gull-wing, Pietenpol Air Camper, and a Grumman J2F Duck.
We are also adding interactive exhibits with a Drone Flight Experience Exhibit, where guests fly drones at the FAM as well as in an advanced virtual reality-based Flight Simulator Lab, modeled after the UND’s lab. FAM guests can try their hand at one of the most realistic flight experiences out there.
Stinson Gull-Wing Project
For more information about our upcoming events or to check out the museum, visit www.fargoairmuseum.org