Log in

Log in
  • July 27, 2022 16:52 | Anonymous

    Military aviation is an important part of our state’s aviation community. In this spotlight, we highlight some of our local military aviators, who represent North Dakota around the world, and share their stories with you. We thank them for their dedicated service to our country and community.

    Our spotlight in this issue features William Mitchell (Mitch) McCoy, a First Sergeant (1SG) in the North Dakota Army National Guard. 

    Q: What is your hometown?

    My hometown is a little hard to describe. I was born in Fort Lauderdale, FL, but moved to Texas when I was eight and Vermont when I was 16. Most of my family are in Austin, TX, still, so I basically claim Austin as where I am from. That being said, I moved to Bismarck, ND, in 2008 from Arizona and have lived here for 14 years, longer than anywhere else in my life. North Dakota has been great and I love Bismarck.

    Q: What is your job title? What does your work include?

    In the NDARNG, I serve as the First Sergeant for C Company 2-285th Assault Helicopter Battalion. As first Sergeant I am the senior enlisted leader for the company which has about 75 Soldiers, 10 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, three tanker refuel trucks, and many other support vehicles and support equipment. My job includes planning and conducting training to ensure our unit is ready to respond to any civil emergency, and perform any combat mission anywhere in the world that the Army may send us. I am also the senior Standardization Flight Instructor for all the crew chiefs. Basically, I train and conduct flight evaluations for all of our crew chiefs and flight instructors.

    Some of the missions we train and execute include fire fighting, in which we use 600 gallon buckets slung beneath the helicopter to douse flames on forest and grassland fires. This spring, we used them to extinguish flames at a train derailment up near Burlington, ND. Another mission we execute is sling loading supplies and equipment beneath the helicopter. This spring we helped save a dam up near cavalier by placing 2000 pound sandbags to stop eroding water. Every year, we conduct aerial gunnery training, where we fire the M240H machine gun from the helicopter windows. I serve as the Master Door Gunner and Aerial Gunnery Standardization Instructor. This is a combat mission where we provide direct fire to protect the helicopter and support troops in contact on the ground.

    A crew chief is not a pilot, but we are crew members responsible for assisting the crew in all manner of activities to include radio operations, navigation assistance, passenger and equipment loading, emergency procedures, airspace surveillance and so forth. We also conduct all manner of maintenance and helicopter inspections.

    I am an FAA certified A&P mechanic and work full time as a federal civilian for the Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) at the Bismarck airport. My civilian job title is Quality Assurance Chief. Basically, I inspect all the UH-60 maintenance and ensure historical records are kept on all the aircraft and equipment. I also ensure programs such as oil analysis, shop safety, aircraft weight and balance are all kept to standard to ensure a safe flying and maintenance program.

    Q: What inspired you to join the military?

    At 19 years old I wanted to do something with my life that was bigger than the small horse farm I lived on in Vermont. I wasn’t ready for college and wanted to see the world and I loved aviation. My father and grandfather had been pilots their whole life. My grandfather flew during World War II and in the Berlin Airlift.  They had devoted most of their lives to flying. Joining the military seemed like the best way to serve and get to be around airplanes. I never really thought I would be a helicopter guy, but I quickly learned to love fixing and flying helicopters.

    Q: How many years of service do you have? 

    I have served 20 years in the military. I joined the United States Marine Corp at 19 years old, where I served as a CH-53E crew chief and mechanic, and Weapons and Tactics Crew Chief Instructor. While in the USMC, I deployed twice to SE Asia aboard the USS Belleau Wood with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

    I joined the NDARNG in 2008 and was assigned to C CO 2-285th AHB, where I’ve served in multiple roles and positions, UH-60 mechanic, UH-60 crew chief, Technical Inspector, Flight Instructor, readiness NCO, Squad leader, Platoon Sergeant, and First Sergeant. With the Guard I have deployed three times to Iraq in 2009-10, to Kosovo in 2013-14, and Washington DC in 2020-21. I’ve participated in flood duty in 2009 and 2011. I have fought fires at the University of Mary in 2015 and at the DAPL protests, when a large grass fire was started and flooding at the dam in Cavalier this spring. I’ve worked on Oh-58 Kiowas, UH60 A/L/M Blackhawks, and UH-72 Lakotas. Overall, I’ve accumulated more than 2,000 flight hours, with over 700 of those hours utilizing Night Vision Goggles (NVG). 

    Between the Marines and the National Guard, I had an eight year break in service where I went to college in Arizona and eventually started working for MD Helicopters in AZ building and maintaining all models of MD Helicopters. Primarily, I worked on MD 500 and 600 series single engine with tail rotor and no tail rotor (NOTAR) systems. When I moved to North Dakota, I worked at Executive Air Taxi Corporation fixing and maintaining all manner of fixed wing aircraft and their Bell 407, which now operates at Trinity Hospital in Minot. While there. I attended the factory Bell 407 maintenance course in Fort Worth, TX.

    Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your job/time in the military?

    Working with and training soldiers. Watching them develop their leadership skills and become professionals at their chosen career fields.

    Q: What advice do you have for anyone interested in military aviation?

    DO IT. Give me a call and come take a look at our facility. Not many people in North Dakota get to work on and fly helicopters in and around our beautiful state. Aviation can be an expensive field to get into, but the military will pay for your maintenance and/or pilot training. There is no better aviation training program in the world than those offered by our US military services. I generally encourage the young men and women I speak to to join the National Guard. We offer a career where you can define your own path and do whatever it is you want to do, based on your own merit. If being a pilot isn’t what you want, you can be a mechanic, an avionic mechanic, or engine mechanic. If piloting or maintenance isn’t what you want, you can be a flight operations specialist, a petroleum supply specialist, vehicle maintainer, aviation life support technician, and so on. There are so many areas where you can learn a valuable skill, develop lifelong friends, serve your state and nation, and build a career with a pretty good retirement.

  • July 27, 2022 16:42 | Anonymous

    Airfield signs are a common sight at most public airports across the country. With just a quick glance, they supply helpful information ranging from an aircraft’s location on the field to directions of aviation services, and communication frequencies to critical safety instructions. Since many Fly-ND Quarterly readers are pilots and very familiar with signage, we can skip the dive down the rabbit hole of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) design standards, but for the benefit of airport operators I would like to highlight some of the common sign-related issues I encounter as an airport inspector.

    Lack of Hold Short Signs: Perhaps the most important sign on the airfield is the Mandatory Holding Position Sign, commonly known as the “hold short” sign. This bright red sign is frequently installed in conjunction with surface painted holding position markings to stop aircraft before they enter runways, and therefore help to prevent dangerous incursions. For airport projects that receive FAA funding, the installation of compliant signage is mandatory. Airports that are ineligible for FAA funding are not required to install signage, but it’s recommended and encouraged that every airport voluntarily install signs whenever possible to prevent accidents and foster safety.

    Deterioration: It’s a fact of life that everything ages and wears out, and signs are no exception. Sunlight gradually bleaches inscriptions and backgrounds, turning cherry red and lemon yellow into white. Plastic becomes brittle and scratched, metal panels and frames are dented, and once brilliantly reflective coatings turn dull. If one of your airfield’s signs becomes damaged, faded, non-reflective, or unreadable, it needs to be replaced. Just remember that messages that span multiple panels in the same fixture need to have all their panels replaced at the same time, to avoid distracting color mismatches.

    Frangible Bases: FAA standards require that objects located in runway safety areas, including signs, must be constructed with frangible couplings to allow them to snap off easily, should an aircraft accidentally strike them. When installed, couplings must be no higher than just three inches above the surrounding grade. Frost heave is commonplace at these northerly latitudes and signs may slowly creep upward and out of the ground, pushing couplings outside tolerances and increasing the risk of damage to aircraft. Signs experiencing frost heave need to be reseated back to grade.

    Erosion: Water and wind gradually wear away the soil around signs and expose their bases. When it comes to concrete bases, this can create dangerous projections and surface variations, which can cause aircraft to lose control should they hit it during an emergency. Airports should make sure to regularly check for and fill in areas of erosion.

    Divider Colors: Internally-lit signs are constructed of plastic message panels, separated by narrow dividers. These dividers are required to be the same color as the panels to prevent disrupting the legend. For example, placing a black divider in the middle of a multi-panel yellow direction sign would break up the sign’s message and potentially confuse pilots.

    Light Failure: Unsurprisingly, hold short signs that are internally-lit must have their lights working to be considered in service. If a hold short sign becomes unlit or badly damaged, a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) should be issued for safety and the sign repaired as soon as feasible.


    FAA guidelines regarding the design, installation, and maintenance of airfield signs can be found by visiting and searching for Advisory Circulars 150/5300-13B, 150/5340-18G, 150/5340-30J, 150/5345-44K, and 150/5340-26C.

    Adam Dillin, Airport Planner

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission 

    701-328-9650 |

  • July 27, 2022 16:38 | Anonymous

    Two of our North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame (HOF) inductees recently celebrated over 100 years of life. Both are WWII veterans, who have pursued a lifelong passion for aviation. Please join us in wishing our HOF centenarians a happy birthday!

    The North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame was established to honor those who have made major achievements in aviation, in North Dakota. Since 1997, 47 aviators have been inducted. Hall of Fame inductees must have the following attributes:

    • Major achievements in aviation in North Dakota
    • Significant contributions to the development of others in aviation in North Dakota.
    • Special service to the state of North Dakota in aviation activities.
    • Activities that bring credit to North Dakota aviation, either nationally or internationally.
    • Significant contributions to the local community or the state of North Dakota that are not related to aviation (i.e.; service clubs, church related, political activities, etc).

    Do you have someone you would like to nominate for the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame? Visit for more information. The deadline to submit a new nomination to the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission office is September 30, 2022.

  • July 27, 2022 16:30 | Anonymous

    Hello! My name is Ryan Thayer and I am the Executive Director/CEO of 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 the University of North Dakota, as well as an Entrepreneurship Degree. I have always been passionate about aviation and business and am thrilled to be able to pursue both of my passions at the Fargo Air Museum.  

    This summer has been very busy and exciting, with plenty of fun aviation activities in North Dakota. With the summer heat and bugs, there are a few things you can do to help keep your plane looking good and your flights safe. With all the bugs in North Dakota, it is important to keep your aircraft clean by removing bugs after each flight, especially the windscreen. Bugs and other contaminants can affect your aerodynamics and visibility the next time you fly, as well as being hard on your paint/clear coat. Consider some of the new products coming out to assist with repelling bugs and making cleaning easier, like professionally installed ceramic coatings. 

    In addition to bugs, summer heat and humidity can drastically affect our aircraft. Make sure you are keeping track of the density altitude during these hot, humid summer days. Take offs at gross weight with high heat and humidity could add a significant amount of runway length needed for take off. Also, make sure you are planning for more time to climb and a reduction in power, especially in the smaller training aircraft like Warriors and 152/172’s, with lower power numbers to begin with. 

    Overall, it has been a full summer of flying and aviation events! We look forward to seeing you in the air, at the Museum, or at some of our local fly in events! 

    The Fargo Air Museum is planning to attend more fly-in’s this summer, host a Warbird fly in this fall with Young Eagles flights, and our Celebrity Dinner and Auction Fundraiser in September.  

    I am very thankful for all our sponsors, donors, friends, staff, our Board of Directors and the community. We could not have a special place like the Fargo Air Museum without your support!  So on behalf of myself and staff at the Fargo Air Museum thank you and include a stop at the Fargo Air Museum this summer.  


    ​​The first picture is of Dick Springer›s (Honorary Board Member at the Fargo Air Museum) T-6 Texan. The second picture is of Kelly Perhus› (Board Member at the Fargo Air Museum) T-6 Harvard (Yellow T-6). The third picture is of Tim McPherson›s (Honorary Board Member of the Fargo Air Museum) P-51 Boomer. And lastly, I also included our Sponsorship Packet for our Fall Celebrity Dinner and Auction Fundraiser. Feel free to use as much of it as you would like. We appreciate all your support!!

  • July 27, 2022 16:26 | Anonymous

    By Kyle Wanner, Executive Director

  • July 27, 2022 16:22 | Anonymous

    Exploring North Dakota Airports

    The annual Fly-ND Summerfest is taking place on August 19, 2022, at the Williston Basin International Airport (XWA.) Check out some fun places to visit in Williston, ND, also known as Boomtown! The North Dakota airport passport stamp can be found at Overland Aviation; please ask at the desk.

    Here are a few local attractions to explore:

    Frontier Museum

    This museum includes a rural church, restored Great Northern Depot, general store and country schoolhouse.  

    Open Memorial Day through Labor Day and by appointment. or (701) 580-2415.

    Eagle Ridge Golf Club

    An 18-hole course and Mulligan’s restaurant tucked beside the natural beauty of Spring Lake Park.   6401 3rd Ave E, Williston, ND 58801

    Open daily from 7am-10pm. or (701)572-6500.

    If you work up an appetite or need some caffeine while exploring Williston, here are a few recommendations:

    Hula Firegrill 

    Enjoy some delicious authentic Hawaiian food at a family owned business. 

    Hours: Open daily from 11am-9pm. 

    Address: 23 Main St, Williston, ND 58801


    Daily Addiction Coffeehouse 

    A homey coffee shop with a relaxing atmosphere.

    Hours: Monday-Friday, 7am-5pm, Saturday, 9am-4pm

    Address:  307 Main St, Williston, ND 58801

    For more information, call (701) 572-2600.

    See you in Williston for the NDAA Summerfest 2022!

    Please visit these locations’ websites or call to confirm hours and availability. 

    Do you have a favorite attraction to explore or a dining recommendation at your North Dakota airport to share with our readers? Submit your discoveries to  

  • July 27, 2022 16:20 | Anonymous

    By Bob Simmers

    What a gorgeous beginning to summer! I recently took an early morning flight up the Missouri River and was in awe of the beauty that was present in North Dakota. I cannot remember a spring where the greens were greener, the prairies more lush, and the river in contrasting colors. It was truly one of those flights that is etched into my memory. Spring got off to a trying start with late and heavy snows, cool temperatures, and high winds, all not lending itself to leisure flying. The last couple of weeks have turned around and we have had beautiful mornings, calm evenings, and last night another shot of moisture to feed the green of the hills. What a great time to be an aviator in central North Dakota!

    This leads us into summer and the season of unstable air, which can produce severe thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and an occasional tornado. There are many factors that contribute to this severe weather. Early in the season, most of the terrain is the same color, whether it be the tan of early spring or the green of a wet spring. As summer progresses, there are contrasting colors on the earth’s surface that create uneven heating of the atmosphere, and that causes midday and afternoon lifting action. In turn, this causes rough air, which makes for uncomfortable flying conditions. Add a moisture source, such as a trough that can become the avenue to feed a system with moisture from either the ocean or the Gulf, and you start to have a recipe for isolated rain and thunderstorms. The greater the temperature differences and the higher the moisture content, the greater the risk of severe weather. Then add the conversion of a cold front and a warm front and you may experience some of the most violent weather.

    So, what have I learned about flying and summer weather in my over 50 years as an aviator? Here are a few things: 

    It is better to be on the ground wishing you were up there rather than being up there wishing you were on the ground. 

    Early morning and evening are the best times to fly. 

    Thunderstorms are usually isolated and can easily be circumnavigated. Rough air is usually below the first layer of clouds. 

    Do not fly under towering cumulus clouds. 

    Give thunderstorms a wide area of respect (minimum of 25 miles.) Even then, you may get hailed on. Be aware of microbursts and stay clear of suspected areas. 

    If you see a roller cloud, do a 180, land and let it pass over. 

    Stay VMC when embedded thunderstorms are forecast. 

    Summer can also be a great time to fly the prairie if you follow the above advice. But always remember that Mother Nature has a mind of her own. She is not always predictable, but she does provide you with signs to which you need to pay attention! Happy flying!

  • July 27, 2022 16:01 | Anonymous

    It is a common misconception that teachers don’t do any work during the summer. While they do have time to relax and are not going into school daily, teachers are still busy planning lessons for the next school year. In addition, many teachers take advantage of professional development opportunities. This summer, the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) partnered with the University of North Dakota – Aerospace (UND) to host several aviation focused professional development opportunities. Funding for these opportunities was provided by a workforce development grant awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

    I am very excited to share that we had nearly 50 educators from around the region attend these two-day courses. It was very exciting to see teachers from all over North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota wanting to learn more about our industry. We also had teachers from a variety of backgrounds, including elementary, middle school, and high school teaching a variety of subjects. It was a great audience who came with energy, ready to learn. 

    Our first two classes were offered in Grand Forks, ND and Fargo, ND. Teachers attending these courses participated in a variety of tours, highlighting aviation in North Dakota. The hands-on learning included a variety of simulations at UND as well as tours of Cirrus manufacturing, the Grand Forks Airport operations and firefighting, the Grand forks Air Force Base and CBP, UND maintenance, and Northrup Grumman. Moving a little further south, we visited the Kindred Airport, West Fargo Airport (including an aerial application demonstration) and a variety of businesses around the Fargo Airport. Teachers left with knowledge of opportunities available for their students right here in North Dakota. I think every location we toured indicated they need employees, and we hope these teachers will share the career opportunities with their students. 

    After the initial week of professional development opportunities, more courses were offered at a variety of locations around the region. These courses focused on integrating aviation education into current educational environments. A full day was dedicated to unmanned aircraft and a second day highlighted the curriculum available for manned and unmanned aviation. 

    Our hope is that the educators in attendance will be able to bring the material back to their schools and either integrate aviation into their current coursework or provide additional aviation opportunities through aviation classes or extracurriculars, such as drone racing clubs. We hope that by teachers exposing students to the opportunities available in the industry, we will see less pressure on the workforce in the future. We know this will take time. 

    I would like to thank everyone who opened up their facility to these teachers and shared their passion for the industry. There are really too many people and businesses to mention. Your time is greatly appreciated! 

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • July 27, 2022 15:56 | Anonymous

    NDAA Executive Directors Note

    By The Staiger Consulting Group

    I grabbed my Starbucks coffee and found a quiet, sunny corner of the airport which overlooked the runway, ramp, and taxiway. I found myself simply mesmerized, watching all the people that make every single flight happen. 

    It was almost like a well-choreographed production and rightfully so; there are so many people working together to make things go and work smoothly and safely. My genuine appreciation for the individuals in this carefully crafted production was deepened even further. This immediately reminded me of the goal of the North Dakota Aviation Association and how we too are trying to convey and bring together all components of aviation. Our overall mission is one of serving aviation professionals, by providing a forum for the exchange of information, ideas, and experience among their peers across aviation professionals, and enthusiasts across the state; all the different areas work together, strengthening our entire community of aviation. 

    This recognition comes at a time in our world where the headlines indicate that we could all use a little dose of community connection and coming together to produce exceptional results. Let’s be that for our members and for this industry! 

    On behalf of the Executive Director team, I want to thank all of you readers, volunteers, members, board of directors, and aviation enthusiasts for your role in helping to make this organization a success. I cannot stress how you too can make a difference in the organization. 

    Here’s some ways to get involved and make a difference:

    Summerfest in Williston – August 19, 2022, followed by the Williston Air Show on August 20..

    Career Expo – October 6, 2022, at the Fargo Air Museum 

    Fly-ND Conference – March 5-7, 2023, at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck

    Each one of you is part of something bigger, and your role is noted and worthy of recognition. I know we are trying new things and stretching our wings, while making great progress for the industry and having a lasting impact on the future of aviation in the state. 


    Stacy & Mike Krumwiede

  • July 27, 2022 15:53 | Anonymous

    Many challenges within the aviation industry have presented themselves over the last few months. Most of the vocalized concerns that we have heard within both the public and private sectors are tied to rising project and operational costs, as well as continued difficulties in hiring and retaining a qualified workforce. These impacts are being felt throughout the airline industry, General Aviation, and airport construction sectors.

    The airline industry has come a long way, since the beginning stages of COVID-19 led to a 95% drop in passenger traffic in April of 2020. Now, many of our commercial airports are within reach of a full recovery in pre-pandemic passenger demand; however, new challenges have emerged. The airlines are currently citing inability to add additional flights into the system, due to the pilot and staff shortages that are currently plaguing the industry. Additionally, increased operational costs are resulting in higher fares for the traveling public. These new realities present headwinds for retaining and attracting new air service opportunities, which hurts the overall health of an industry that is now coping with rising break-even costs. In order to once again see sustainable passenger growth above pre-pandemic levels, additional flights or larger aircraft with additional seats will need to be added into North Dakota’s system. Furthermore, systematic workforce needs must be addressed and energy costs will need to improve and stabilize. 

    General Aviation activity throughout the country has also been greatly impacted by both the rising costs of fuel and the current prices of purchasing or upgrading aircraft. In conversations with aircraft operators, I have heard many concerns regarding fuel prices and the large role that those rising costs have had on their flight decisions.

    The airport construction sector has also been experiencing inflationary and supply chain issues, which have substantially driven up costs. These challenges have been taking a toll on infrastructure projects as decision makers throughout the country are postponing projects, scaling back others, and reprioritizing needs. Specifically, airport project costs throughout the state of North Dakota have recently averaged 17% higher than expected, when comparisons are made to pre-bid engineering estimates. Contractors have also vocalized concerns regarding the unknown future prices of materials and the escalating energy costs that are being experienced. Acquiring new snow removal and aircraft rescue and fire fighting equipment has also become increasingly difficult, as most airport deliveries are currently projected to be out 18-24 months. 

    A robust national energy policy, strong efforts to contain inflationary pressures, a reduction of regulatory burdens, and a lowering of barriers to entry for the workforce, are all areas that would have immediate and positive impacts for the aviation industry. These issues are being continually discussed at the national level and will need to be addressed as soon as possible, to alleviate the concerns that many of us within the industry have been vocalizing. 

    Fortunately, good pre-planning was able to position most of our airport projects in North Dakota to be bid early in the construction season. This allowed for a greater opportunity to receive competitive prices and provided more time for contractors to secure supplies. The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission is also currently in a financially sound position, which has allowed airports to secure state grants to help fill in funding gaps where appropriate. These efforts have resulted in the ability for most of our high priority airport projects that were planned in the upcoming construction season to be able to proceed. Our office will continue to engage with airport management and community leaders to readjust and plan for 2023 and beyond. 

    Overall, North Dakota has done a tremendous job over the years to maintain, develop, and enhance our airport system which now allows us to help address the current challenges from a position of strength. Our priority is to work to ensure that a positive business environment exists so that the aviation industry can grow and prosper to the direct benefit of our communities and to the flying public. 

    When we fly, we can’t direct the wind, but we can reroute our flight plan and adjust the aircraft controls. Challenging moments help to bring people together while also creating opportunities for positive changes to occur. I encourage all of us to positively build up our communities and to work towards making decisions that will improve the standard of living for current and future generations. 

    If you have any concerns or ideas to help improve and grow aviation within your community, we would love to hear from you. I also hope that you and your family are able to enjoy the summer weather and discover opportunities to create exciting new memories in the field of aviation. 

    Wishing you smooth flying, 


Copyright © 2023 North Dakota Aviation Association

North Dakota Aviation Association

PO Box 627
Bismarck, ND 58502

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software