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  • May 25, 2021 10:45 | Anonymous


    When learning how an airplane achieves flight, one of the first things we learn about is the Four Forces of Flight. Lift, weight, thrust and drag are needed to be controlled by the pilot in order to achieve successful flight. The four forces can also be used to describe the path to a successful career in aviation. I will use the example of a career as a pilot, but I believe that these four forces will be applicable to most if not all careers in aviation. 

    Lift = Knowledge and Experience

    Much like an aircraft needs the combination of Bernoulli’s principle and Newton’s Third Law to generate lift, achieving lift in your career can be attributed to a combination of knowledge and experience. I am often asked, “Should I attend college if it is not required to become a pilot?” I typically answer that adding knowledge through a collegiate program will almost certainly benefit you long-term. Initially, it may be faster and/or cheaper to obtain the experience needed to be hired as a pilot without attending post-secondary education, but in the long term you will be in a pool of other pilots with similar experience. It is the knowledge obtained through a degree program that may help set you apart from other candidates. Typically, the higher degree obtained the better off you will be. Remember, not all collegiate programs are created equal. While the core knowledge needed to obtain a pilot certificate, or many of the other classes, may be similar, knowledge may also be quality of the training fleet, and standardization, and especially  industry relationships. While one school may give a minimum knowledge needed to move on, another may give you access to industry relationships, which will help you succeed faster. I have written previously about the importance of a personal learning network. Remember the WHO you know may be just as important as the WHAT you know. 

    Experience may be more like Newton’s Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Employers will have requirements, such as a minimum number of hours, or other experience requirements. Again, the more experience you have, the better! Add your knowledge and experience and you are sure to obtain more lift! 

    Thrust = Motivation

    Motivation is like the thrust on the aircraft. Remember, it is excess thrust that causes lift. While some aircraft have bigger engines and some smaller, only you can determine the size of your engine. The more motivation or thrust you have, the easier it is to generate lift. Students who show motivation will have a much easier time building relationships, studying for tests, and getting to the airport to fly. This motivation will shine and before you know it, you will develop more personal relationships and your career path will become easier. Students who are motivated tend not only to score better on knowledge exams, but also find themselves with many more opportunities. Scholarships, internships, and other experiences tend to find their way to motivated individuals. Remember, only you can determine how big your engine is! Just as engines require fuel, oil, and maintenance, it helps to surround yourself with people who will motivate you. Joining aviation organizations such as the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA), Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA0, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Civil Air Patrol (CAP), American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), and others will help keep you fueled. 

    Drag = Personal/Medical 

    Drag: nobody likes to talk about it, but it is there. Something is holding you back. Just as in an aircraft, there are two forms of drag: parasitic, the drag caused by going faster, and induced drag, the bi-product of lift. Personal factors, such as past medical history, or not being in a community close to an airport are the personal “aerodynamics” that we must live with. As you gain momentum in your career path, it may seem more and more difficult to go faster.  Remember, motivation is the thrust that is needed to overcome drag. Much like parasite drag is caused by the shape of the aircraft, each of us has different levels of being “aerodynamic”.

    Induced drag is an inevitable consequence of lift. As your motivation increases, you may become physically and mentally worn out. You may struggle to find more fuel or money to keep flying, amongst other factors. Remember to stay ahead of the power curve. Try to plan ahead so these factors are not holding you back right after you begin your takeoff roll. 

    In most cases, personal factors can be overcome. I would like to remind students that even if there is so much personal drag that motivation cannot overcome it, such as a medically disqualifying factor, there is still a career for you in the industry. I encourage you to talk to an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) before deciding you are unable to fly. They may be able to help you overcome the issue. In most cases, putting in some additional effort may help you overcome the drag that you naturally have. In any case, don’t give up. Many other careers in aviation exist other than being a pilot. Consider Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Air Traffic Control (ATC), maintenance technician, airport management, or the many other paths to a career in aviation. 

    Weight = Luck

    While the weight of an aircraft is relatively fixed, you may find yourself with a different amount of luck than one of your peers. While some students have a natural advantage, we all come with different levels of baggage. Luck is the only one of the four forces of flight which you have little influence over. A great quote that holds true in many cases is “The harder I work, the luckier I get”. While you may have the least control over the weight of the aircraft or how lucky you are, you do have some control on how much baggage you bring on the journey or where you place it in the aircraft. My tip for you: remember, lift opposes weight and excess thrust creates lift. Remember that with a little bigger engine, or with a little more motivation, your career in aviation can and will take flight.

    Flight Planning

    In addition to getting the hypothetical aircraft in the air, flight planning is a critical step in your career. While some students choose to take a jet on a direct course to their destination, this takes quite a bit of lift to get to the higher altitudes and a lot of additional thrust to get the aircraft moving. Some students will take a J-3 Cub approach: it may take a little longer to get there, but in the end, the destination is the same and it will take a lot less lift and thrust. There is no wrong path. For some students, the best answer is low and slow and many refueling stops along the way, for others, a direct path with a high-altitude view. Whatever your course, whatever aircraft you choose to fly, and wherever your destination, I hope that the advice mentioned above will help you get there. As always, please feel free to contact me to assist in your career flight planning.

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 | mmchugh@nd.gov

  • May 25, 2021 10:35 | Anonymous

    By Ryan Riesinger, Executive Director, Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority President, Airport Association of North Dakota

    What do you want to be when you grow up? When there are so many possibilities, how are you supposed to know and find your way?

    For me, it is fair to say I may not be where I am today if it was not for my dad. While it is not uncommon for parents to have a great influence on who their children will become, my dad opened my eyes to the excitement that is aviation. I grew up in the Twin Cities area and frequently on summer evenings we would end up at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport (MSP) to watch the planes takeoff and land from our parking spot on Post Road. My dad taught me how to tell the planes apart not just by their size, but by the location of the engines or the design of the tail. I found it amazing that something so large could even get off the ground. 

    When it came time to attend college fairs and choose where to go, my dad was influential. I attended one college fair and my dad said, “That’s where you should go.” Ultimately, I only toured that one university. In the fall of 1991, I packed up and moved to Grand Forks to pursue a degree in Airport Management at the University of North Dakota (UND).

    I thoroughly enjoyed my years at UND. Each year seemed to become more interesting, as I advanced in the curriculum. I will never forget my first solo flight at GFK and when I received my private pilot license in the spring of 1993; I had a true sense of accomplishment. My professors stressed applying for internships, and through that I ultimately worked at three different airports before my graduation in the spring of 1996.

    Twenty years later, I found myself driving back to Grand Forks to become the Executive Director at the Grand Forks Airport (GFK). When I graduated from UND, my goal was to become a Director of an airport someday, somewhere. However, I did not know when or where that would be. What I know now is that for those 20 years, working in progressively more responsible positions at airports in Worthington, MN (OTG), Madison, WI (MSN), and Saginaw, MI (MBS), I met many great people who shared the same passion for aviation. They helped immensely in the pursuit of my goal.

    Aviation is filled with wonderful people, who are deeply passionate and giving of their time. If you are a student with an interest in aviation, I encourage you to take that aviation class in high school, attend an airshow, go to your local airport, and talk with the pilots or aircraft owners, or simply watch the planes takeoff and land with someone who shares your excitement. I am confident you will find your passion in this great industry.

    Last month, I was elected to be the new President of the Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND). I am honored to be in this role and will do my best to represent our state’s airports. If you have any ideas or suggestions of how to make AAND or our airports better, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

  • May 25, 2021 10:28 | Anonymous


    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.”

  • May 25, 2021 10:20 | Anonymous

    Director’s Chair

    As summer approaches, it’s exciting to see our airports showing increases in passengers and activity levels, as we begin to experience some of the best travel months since the start of the pandemic. Optimism is returning to the air as airlines are beginning to add back flights to certain communities while also making announcements of their plans to resume hiring. This is great news for our younger aviators who dream about a future career within the aviation industry.

    At the state level, we have also recently seen the results of a successful legislative session as multiple bills that positively support our airports have passed. The Airport Association of North Dakota (AAND) will provide a legislative update in the summer issue and I congratulate them and all of our aviation leaders that have taken the time out of their busy schedule to help reach out to legislators on important issues.

    I also want to thank the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) Board and the Fly-ND Site Committee members for their hard work to ensure that our aviation community still had access to the annual Fly-ND Conference. I know it was not an easy decision to switch to a virtual format, but they rose to the challenge to ensure that an option to network and receive industry related updates was available. We all hope that next year will allow for an in-person event to take place.   

    At the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, our goal for the upcoming biennium is to continue to support our airports and the aviation industry’s ongoing recovery. This summer, we also expect to see additional progress being made on Vantis, our statewide unmanned aircraft systems Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) network. Vantis is expected to begin to allow commercial UAS operations in the western part of the state. We will also be continuing our work to promote aviation education and career initiatives throughout the state, in cooperation with the NDAA and our aviation museums. 

    Large runway projects are underway in Watford City and Dickinson. At completion, they will conclude an aggressive plan that began 10 years ago to modernize and update our airport infrastructure in western North Dakota. Many other great airport projects throughout the state will also be ongoing this construction season and we always recommend that you check NOTAMS prior to making flight plans. 

    This summer, we are also planning to update our pavement condition index study, a statewide project that occurs every three years. We work with an experienced pavement consultant firm to inspect and take inventory of the approximately 60 million square feet of pavement that exists at our airports throughout the state.  The data will show the condition of each pavement section, along with deterioration details, projected future conditions, and a recommended funding plan to ensure that the pavements are maintained in the most cost beneficial way possible. These studies have provided our state with a revolutionary way to manage its airport pavements and greatly helps us to develop a strong system plan for the future. 

    Great things are happening all around us in aviation and I hope that you are able to feel that optimism as you take flight and breath in some of our fresh North Dakota air. As always, I encourage you to fulfill your passion of aviation by finding ways to make some incredible aviation related memories and adventures this summer. 

    Wishing you smooth flying, 

    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 | kcwanner@nd.gov

  • May 19, 2021 10:59 | Anonymous

    Chairman’s Comments

    Summer is almost here and we have a lot to look forward to! Before you take in all that we have packed into this edition of the Fly-ND Quarterly, let’s take a minute to ponder a few iconic moments, both recent and some time ago, that will forever be linked in aerospace history. 

    On December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, NC, the Wright brothers logged the first powered, controlled flight.Now, fast forward to February 19, 2021. This is the day that NASA’s rover called Perseverance landed at the Jezero Crater of Mars, carrying a helicopter called Ingenuity. 

    Two months later, on April 19, 2021, Ingenuity took to the skies of Mars, as did the Wright Flyer. Carrying a tiny piece of fabric from the original Wright Flyer aircraft, Ingenuity successfully completed the first powered, controlled flight by an aircraft on another planet. The flight lasted 39.1 seconds and consisted of a vertical takeoff, climbing ten feet above ground, hovering briefly, completing a turn, and then landing. 

    While the Wright brothers’ first flight in Kitty Hawk and Ingenuity’s first flight on Mars may be separated by 117 years and 173 million miles of space, they will always be uniquely connected.

    As an homage to the Wright brothers, the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) designated the airfield on Mars as Wright Brothers Field, with the official International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designator IGY, call-sign INGENUITY. 

    I hope this incredible achievement prompts you to reach out to the next generation of aviators and connect them with a world full of opportunity. Our Fly-ND Career Expo at the Fargo Air Museum on May 14, 2021, and the Fargo AirSho on July 24-25, 2021, would be great opportunities for students to discover their own inspiration and pathway to a career in aviation. 

    As chairman of the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA), it has been an honor to lead the organization for the past few years. 

    Your membership, whether an individual or an allied company looking to better connect and serve the aerospace industry in North Dakota, helps us to achieve our mission to promote and grow aviation throughout the state. 

     If you or your company are not a member, consider joining our mission.

    Blue Skies!  Darren

    P.S. Thank you to Elayna Hall at EAA HQ for sharing the Wright Brothers/Ingenuity connection.

    To learn more about Ingenuity, visit: https://astronomy.com/news/2021/04/fabric-from-the-original-wright-flyer-takes-flight-on-mars

    Darren Hall, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Associaton


  • May 19, 2021 10:42 | Anonymous

    Commercial Service Airport of the Year

    Fargo’s Hector International Airport has received the “2020 Commercial Service Airport of the Year” award. The award is for excellence in maintaining safety, project management, and community outreach and is sponsored by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission in partnership with the Airport Association of North Dakota.

    Hector International Airport worked hard to ramp up cleaning efforts to protect passengers and employees, and invested in a robot vacuum unit to allow airport staff to focus on sanitizing vital areas throughout the facility.

    Hector International Airport boasts a busy and rapidly growing air cargo facility. In 2020 a record was set, with more than 420 million pounds of cargo flown through the airport and a growth of 7.5% over the previous year. 

    Hector International Airport joined with The Arts Partnership to showcase the work of local artists with its ArtWORKS exhibit. As part of the program, a variety of local musicians regaled airport visitors with 18 live musical performances during the 2020 holiday season. 

    The Hector International Airport is congratulated for a tremendous year of accomplishments.

    General Aviation Airport of the Year

    The JB Lindquist Regional Airport has received the North Dakota “2020 General Aviation Airport of the Year” award. 

    The airport showed a strong belief in aviation advocacy and community outreach by hosting a career day, where high school shop class students were educated on career opportunities in aviation and learned how aircraft systems are different compared to vehicles. The airport also worked with Dakota Butte Museum and presented on the history of Hettinger Municipal Airport, starting around the 1930s. 

    The JB Lindquist Regional Airport showed community support by being one of the only airports to host a fly-in breakfast in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event raised about $1,500 to help support the local fire department. 

    The airport showed great progress in 2020 by constructing several projects. They poured concrete pads by the General Aviation (GA) terminal and self-serve fuel tanks, installed digital keypad locks on the majority of the hangars for added security, replaced airport windsocks, extended the crosswind overrun by 300 feet, and finished rehabilitation of both partial parallel taxiways, as well as constructed a full parallel taxiway.

    To top off all the airport’s accomplishments in 2020, the airport decided to rename the airport from Hettinger Municipal Airport to JB Lindquist Regional Airport, in honor of the long-time aviator and airport manager, JB Lindquist.  

    The JB Lindquist Regional Airport is congratulated for a tremendous year of accomplishments.

    Passport Awards

    Eight pilots were presented with gold awards for participating in the “Fly North Dakota Airports” Passport Program. The passport program presents awards to pilots for flying to airports in the state, as well as attending FAA Safety Seminars and visiting the two North Dakota Air Museums. 

    The most prestigious gold award level was achieved by eight pilots during 2020. These pilots received a leather flight jacket embroidered with the North Dakota Flying Legacy logo, in addition to the bronze and silver awards. This prestigious accomplishment is achieved when visiting all 89 public use airports in North Dakota, visiting both air museums, and attending at least three FAA Safety seminars. These pilots join the 71 others who have completed the passport program in previous years, making a total of 78 total pilots who have achieved the gold award level to date.

    The following is a list of the individuals:

    Deen R. Brecht

    Michael Moe

    Jean Moe

    David Operchal

    Pat Fagan

    Scott Williamson

    Dale M Ripplinger

    Jayme Opp

  • May 19, 2021 10:38 | Anonymous

    By Joshua Simmers

    The organization formerly known as the North Dakota Pilots Association (NDPA) would be pleased, rather, would be elated, with the merger into the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA). Our top priority was to ensure that all remaining NDPA funds find their way into scholarships. Not only has the NDAA made it possible to reach a permanent endowment scholarship for pilots, it has made it better than what the NDPA could have ever done on its own. With your help, we can ensure a pilot scholarship is awarded annually for at least one thousand dollars! 

    The NDAA has generously donated to get us close to the endowment threshold. But we are left with some work to do. In order to get to an endowment scholarship that can be awarded in three years, we need to raise another $4,000. In order to get to a scholarship that can be immediately awarded, we need to raise $9,000. This is when we get blunt about the numbers.

    I am an average guy, and I have pledged $1,000 to get the Pilot Legacy Scholarship program up and running. Another average Mike, who also has kids and all the associated bills, also pledged $1,000. Folks like us are simply grateful for aviation in our lives and realize the two greatest things we can do to bring others into the flock are take newbies for airplane rides and help them get their license. Scholarships help. If former NDPA members all pitched in a few dollars, we would quickly meet our goal within a time fit for the Reno Air Races. With a matching pledge of $1,000, we can generously start paying it forward. We ask you to consider a donation, large or small, recurring or one time, to keep the aviation scholarship fund active. Think of how your pledge will become a legacy to inspire a new generation of aviators!

    Becoming part of the NDAA has multiplied our efforts and capacity beyond what the board anticipated. Becoming a member is a great way to stay in touch with aviation in the state and perpetuate opportunities for future enthusiasts and professionals. NDPA scholarship funds are already far more and longer-lasting than they were a short while ago. With your help, it can be a permanent legacy. As you look to the skies and dream, remember it is as simple as “help others achieve their dreams and you will achieve yours.” (Les Brown)

    Other ways to give to the Pilot Legacy Scholarship can be found at www.fly-nd.com/Scholarships. Contact Joshua Simmers: 701-955-4553 or joshuas@bismarckaero.com or Stacy Krumwiede at stacy@scgnd.com

    If you would like to make a tax deductible donation, we can make that happen. We are even open to stock, bond, and property donations. Donations to the Pilot Legacy Scholarship qualify for North Dakota’s Planned Gift Tax Credit (a donation of $5,000 actually only costs $3,000 as $2,000 becomes credited to your state taxes and potentially applied to subsequent years’ taxes). For property and investment type options, we will help you coordinate with Amy at the North Dakota Community Foundation (amy@ndcf.net).

  • May 19, 2021 10:30 | Anonymous

    NDAA Executive Directors Note

    By The Staiger Consulting Group

    Welcome back to another exciting and inspirational edition of the Fly-ND Quarterly! Springtime arrives with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and excitement for what is to come. Windows are cracked, tulips are blooming, there’s air in the bike tires, and water in the bird bath. The air is crisp and clean, and I feel ready to take on the world and try new things. There’s even a little spring in my step! Recently, I bought a scooter: a 1981 Honda Express. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s fun, exciting, and new to me. Mind you, I have never actually driven anything that resembles a motorbike. So here I am, trying new things and learning along the way, even as I enter an era of age that is very similar to that of my Honda Express.

    This new and refreshing time is reminiscent of what is happening within the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA). We have some new and exciting things coming up this spring and summer and our future is bright. The opportunities for students, professionals, and aviation enthusiasts are coming together in a couple of fun events. We encourage you to try something new as well! Listed below are a few upcoming adventures for you to try.

    To kick off our spring and summer events, we are preparing for our First Annual Aviation Career Expo. This event is hosted at the Fargo Air Museum and is scheduled for May 14, 2021. It is targeted at high school and college students, ages 16-22. Our focus is to introduce young people to the vast array of career opportunities within the aviation industry, and for them to explore a career in aviation. You are the best resource to accomplish this task. The Expo consists of industry leaders, exhibitors, aircraft displays, guest speakers, and of course scholarships! We want to provide them with information and resources to help them look beyond the horizon and develop a vision for their future. We hope to make this event a great success; everyone is welcome to participate, including students, exhibitors, and volunteers! 

    Secondly, preparations are underway for the First Annual Summer Event. I’m not going to reveal too much about this, as plans are being finalized. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a face-to-face fun event to network, socialize, and raise some scholarship dollars for students. I promise there will be something fun for everyone to try at this event! Be on the lookout for more information soon.

    Whether you are new to the industry, are a student, or simply a lifelong learner, there is something here for you! I invite you to hop on board, join the NDAA, attend an event, bring a friend, or maybe even buy a scooter…

    We hope to see you soon!

    Stacy & Mike Krumwiede

  • May 19, 2021 10:23 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aviation Association Membership Committee has recently formed, and has yielded some exciting early results. The committee members include Devin Cole, Chelly Ontis, Stacy Krumweide and Jamie Bender from our Executive Director team, and Tanner Overland and Justin Weninger from the Board of Directors. Together, they have been working to invite new members to join, as well as provide greater benefits to existing members.

     “We think that all members, from individual members to our allied and organizational members, as well as student members, will greatly profit from the new benefits and added services that we hope to bring to our members through this committee,” says membership committee chairman Justin Weninger.

    The committee is planning to unveil the new membership plans and benefits later this summer. Keep an eye on the Fly-ND website, Facebook page, and the Quarterly to learn more. If you are not yet a member of the North Dakota Aviation Association, please consider joining today to take full advantage of the benefits available already and to enjoy the new benefits, as soon as they launch.

    Weninger adds, “This is something you’re not going to want to miss out on. We’ve got some incredible opportunities for our new and existing members, and I can’t wait to share them!”

    Did you know you can become a North Dakota Aviation Association member for only $25? Plus, you’ll qualify for the new benefits (see below) while you enjoy the current ones. 

    Join today at here.

  • 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. 

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Bismarck, ND 58507

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