Back in 2017, when I started flying in earnest again, it started with looking for an airplane. As I started my search for the right airplane, everyone that I solicited advice from all asked me the same question, “what’s your mission?”. I didn’t have a mission necessarily in mind, I just wanted to fly an airplane and have fun. I didn’t know that we needed a mission to buy and fly an airplane. Now that I’ve owned the plane for almost five years, I do understand the necessity of defining your mission to find the right airplane. We as pilots also tend to feel the need to have a mission for each flight. These often include getting to a meeting, going on vacation or away for the weekend, or some other purpose.
I think we have to remember that one of our missions should be to have fun. To go for joy rides and remember that’s what most likely started most of our passions in aviation. As I think back on flights that I’ve done that have been for the sole mission of enjoyment, many fun memories come back.
Shortly after a big snow storm blew across North Dakota diagonally, my dad and I decided to go check out the remnants from above. We rented a 172 and flew up towards Lake Sakakawea. Once we got just past Beulah, we saw the definitive line of where the blizzard had stopped. I remember to this day how cool it was seeing the path of a blizzard from above, a white covered ground to one side, and brown prairie on the other. After we toured over the Lake a bit, we made a stop in Hazen and I showed my dad what small town FBO’s look like. As we jumped back in the plane for the rest of the flight, my dad grabbed out the catering for our journey, a package of strawberries he brought with for us to enjoy. A sweet ending to a great flight.
While in college at UND, my friends and I all returned home for a weekend. We decided to take a Saturday trip to Dickinson in the 172. Fun was our mission, but an added mission was to get Arctic Rolls from the Dairy Barn. My girlfriend also brought with one of her friends that had never been in a small plane before. A great way to introduce someone new to the world of general aviation. After a brief tour of the Enchanted Highway from above, we steered towards Dickinson and enjoyed a few Arctic Rolls.
Lastly, this past fall, my family and I jumped in our plane one Sunday afternoon and went out to do some sightseeing. I text my dad that we’d be coming up over the lake cabin soon to say “hi”. As we made a few circles over the cabin, my dad waved to us from the middle of the yard, while we rocked our wings back. Pete Weisbeck was enjoying the afternoon at the cabin with my dad and their friends, and text me the next day how good the flyover looked. Sadly, this was Pete’s last time at the cabin as he passed away a short few weeks later. After a few passes over the lake to check out the Salmon fishing report (lots of boats, and apparently some good fishing as well) I decided to check out the progress at the Hazen airport and the new runway with a flyover.
These are memories that will remain with me forever, and were born out of a desire to just have some fun.
Justin Weninger, Chairman
North Dakota Aviation Associaton