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  • January 04, 2022 11:13 | Anonymous

    After a shutdown during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, UND Aerospace and its airport operations resumed in earnest that summer. Over the next year, UND’s flight training programs went on to accrue more flight hours than ever – smashing a 2013 record. UND archival image.

    With 126,000 hours of flight across all training programs, UND sets new record in year of changes and challenges

    From July 1 of last year to June 30, the University of North Dakota’s flight training programs kept an unprecedented pace, smashing a 2013 record for hours flown by students at the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences.

    The 126,000 hours flown between 2020 and 2021 went well beyond the FY13’s 110,000 hours across plane, helicopter and unmanned aerial systems flight training. Airplane training alone comprised 121,000 hours of the FY21 total.

    The milestone was reached amid circumstances never before experienced. After the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered UND Flight Operations from March through May in 2020, training resumed in earnest as students were determined to keep their college careers on track.

    “This flying hour milestone is a culmination of the hard work of all of our students, instructors, maintainers, line staff, and others,” said Robert Kraus, dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. “Even more so, they have done it professionally and safely, even under pandemic restrictions.”

    From shutdown to blazing pace

    Despite new safety protocols and sometimes daily changes to operations, UND achieved a number that hadn’t previously been thought to be possible, according to Chief Flight Instructor Jeremy Roesler. Previous estimates, considering the size of UND’s fleet of nearly 100 aircraft and an average of 160 flight instructors on staff, put the cap at 120,000 hours for UND at its busiest.

    “As we shut down from the middle of March until May 2020, all of that cumulative flight training still had to happen,” Roesler said. “And because of the airline industry slowdown, our flight instructors weren’t leaving for new employment. We then hired more instructors, which meant we were far more staffed than years previous.”

    By the time UND Flight Operations resumed activities at the airport, under new health and safety precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, 245 flight instructors were on staff to help as many as 1,400 students get up to speed on flight lessons.

    Also, as noted by Kraus, “The great weather we’ve had over the winter and spring contributed to Grand Forks International Airport achieving the top rank as the busiest airport in the country on several occasions.”

    But it wasn’t solely a staffing boost or sunny days that set a blazing pace for UND Aerospace.

    “It’s hard to single out any one department, because our organization is so intertwined,” said Dick Schultz, director of UND Flight Operations, when asked about the milestone. “From our records department, to dispatch, to the maintenance bay, if one thing is out of place, it messes up the whole system.

    “Our collective experience, working seven days a week, morning to night, has taught us what we need to do to get the job done. We have a great staff out here, and everybody stood up to do their part.”

    Brian Willis, director of aviation safety, said that from a safety culture standpoint, everyone in the UND Aerospace ecosystem was prepared for what came with resuming flight training last summer. Masks were required across the board and cockpits were sanitized between uses, among other measures to promote physical distancing when possible.

    “As pilots, our students and instructors have learned to be very flexible,” Willis said. “They’re also very rule-oriented as a matter of course. So, between the checklists, manuals and flight procedures, COVID procedures fit right in. That allowed for the organization to come back and really get rolling.

    “From our administration’s offices to students and instructors on the runway, safety is always the priority in how we make decisions.”

    On the rebound

    While conditions aligned perfectly for an unprecedentedly productive year at UND, the rest of the aviation world is now on the rebound, said Roesler. As pandemic recovery unfolds, airlines and other aviation fixtures are steadily reaching pre-COVID hiring rates.

    “We’ve already had quite a number of instructors move on this year, and our graduates are going to remain in high demand as the industry addresses its pilot shortage,” Roesler said.

    Kraus said that in recent meetings with airlines, many of which have established career pathway programs in partnership with UND Aerospace, nearly all are expecting significant hiring opportunities for “several years.”

    “We continue to see rising interest in aviation as a career, and our increase in flight hours supports the increasing demand of pilots from all levels of the industry,” he added.

    In order to get flight training back on schedule, UND Aerospace implemented new procedures to limit the spread of COVID-19, including mask requirements and increased sanitization for cockpits and other training areas. UND archival image.

  • January 04, 2022 11:07 | Anonymous

    By Erika Craven, KFYR

    Michelle Mulberry’s brigadier general promotion is more than a one-star ceremony, it’s the culmination of many years of military service. The story begins with patriarch Richard Balliet’s time in Vietnam.

    “When I first got there, I figured I had so long to serve that I didn’t think I would get out of there anyway. But as the time went on and things got better the closer that I got to the end of my tour, the end of that year, I started to slow down a bit, get a little bit worried, that I might make it out of there anyway,” said Full Col. Richard Balliet, North Dakota Army National Guard.

    Balliet also served with Co A, 101st Aviation Battalion as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and served over 36 years. He wrote a book about his experiences.

    Balliet’s daughters learned more about their father’s story as they forged their own paths in the military.

    “That’s where my dad was, and he worked full time, and both sisters had gone that route. And, I kind of figured if I didn’t like it, I only had to do it one weekend a month and two weeks a year. And, I wasn’t stuck on active duty for four years,” said Sgt. First Class Laura Balliet with the North Dakota Army National Guard and assistant attorney general.

    Now, the Balliet family celebrates middle daughter Michelle’s promotion to brigadier general for the Wyoming Air National Guard. She’s the second in her family to achieve the one-star honor after Nicole, who received the title in the Army National Guard while in California.

    “[At the promotion ceremony] we usually have at least those four positions, and we made it happen with just our family which is really unusual,” said Brig. Gen. Michelle Mulberry for the Wyoming Air National Guard.

    These military women not only achieved high honors but also keep a strong sense of humor.

    “You know, we always give our dad a lot of crap, because now he has two daughters that outrank him, so we celebrate that and high-five when he tries to tell us something,” added BG Mulberry.

    Youngest daughter Laura isn’t left out of the joke.

    “For 11 years, I have been assistant attorney general for the State of North Dakota, so I had the title general first,” added SFC Laura Balliet.

    The family has been around the world and back with nine deployments between father and daughters. And while they’re scattered across the country now, the military’s brought them together again and again.

    “I was in Iraq when my sister was deployed to Qatar, and I got to see her on the ramp of a C-130 aircraft. She flew into Iraq to pick up the wounded I got to see her for about 20 minutes,” said Brig. Gen. Nicole Balliet, National Guard Bureau.

    BG Mulberry added that the meet-up was a surprise.

    The family has served the United States in many capacities from flying helicopters in Vietnam, to working earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, to extensive work in the Middle East.

    “Now the girls, they all did this on their own. I didn’t encourage them to join, that was all their own decisions. We actually never really talked about it much until they came to me and said this is what they want to do. I am very proud of them for that,” added Col. Richard Balliet.

    They say the military has brought the family together.

    “I think being in the military and getting older, of course, has brought us closer as sisters. It’s nice to have shared experiences. We all know what it’s like to deploy. We know what it’s like to miss family,” added BC Nicole Balliet.

    The Balliets say they’ve been lucky to have support from friends and family, including the girls’ mother Betty Jo, throughout their military careers.

    Including Michelle Mulberry and Nicole Balliet, there are five female general officers who hail from North Dakota. The others from North Dakota include Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber with the North Dakota Army National Guard, Brig. Gen. Stefanie Horvath with the Minnesota Army National Guard, and Maj. Gen. Giselle Wilz with the National Guard Bureau in Washington DC.

    Reprinted with permission from KFYR TV

  • January 04, 2022 10:59 | Anonymous

    Dakota Territory Air Museum Commemorates the Beginning and End of World War II in the Pacific with Special Event

    The Dakota Territory Air Museum (DTAM) had a large presence at the 2021 EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI, with a total of six of the museum’s warbird fleet flying out to the week-long event. The Hawker Hurricane Mk. XII, Supermarine Spitfire Mk. IXc “Half Stork”, FM-2P Wildcat, P-51C Mustang “Lopes Hope 3rd”, P-51D Mustang “Miss Kitty III”, and B-25J Mitchell “Betty’s Dream” all made an appearance. The Hurricane, Spitfire, P-51C, and P-51D were all featured on ‘Warbirds in Review,’ which gives a detailed history on each aircraft through interviews with current pilots, historians, mechanics, owners, and, in the case of “Miss Kitty III”, Lavinia “Kitty” Rosenbaum, the surviving wife of John Rosenbaum who flew the original “Miss Kitty III”. You can watch those interviews either on the DTAM Facebook page or on the EAA Warbirds of America Facebook page.

    On August 14, 2021, the DTAM marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II in the Pacific and the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II in the Pacific with a celebration and commemoration event at the museum. Despite the heat that day, approximately 300 people came out to the event. The Minot Air Force Base provided the museum with a Huey Helicopter for static display, the DTAM flew its FM-2P Wildcat and its C-53 Skytrooper during the event, Lyle Torno of the North Dakota Military Vehicle Collectors Association provided three jeeps for static display, one from World War II, one from Korea, and one from Vietnam, and couple of food trucks were set up. The DTAM welcomed World War II veterans Col. Joe McPhail, Lynn Aas, John Sinn, and Ed Zilly as guests of honor. The evening prior to the event, the DTAM hosted a private dinner and Q&A session with these extraordinary individuals where they spoke on their World War II experiences. Joe McPhail spoke at the event the next day during a public Q&A session. The DTAM also drew the grand prize winner for its 25th annual sweepstakes during the event. The grand prize was either a J-3 Piper Cub or $20,000 cash, winner’s choice. The lucky winner for 2021 is Ralph Serdahl of Minot, ND. To finish the event, one of the museum’s P-51 Mustangs, “Little Horse”, was outfitted with custom under-wing barrels and cold drinks were served from those barrels, in partnership with Atypical Brewing here in Minot. 

  • January 04, 2022 10:55 | Anonymous

    The idea started as “we should take our wives to the musical in Medora,” then turned into “we should invite some friends.” After that, it’s not clear where the idea went. There was flying, golf for some, card playing, singing, dancing, and a cold beverage.

    The event “Fly to Beach” was largely organized by Larry Mueller from Hillsboro, ND. He brought along Ron Lundquist of Kindred, ND, so in case it was a total bust, he could blame someone else other than himself.

    As it turned out, the trip turned out to be a great time and a resounding success! To give you an idea how many airplanes flew in, all the tie downs at the Beach Airport were taken, the transient hangars were gone, and Karl Davis, the friendly airport manager, was kept busy shuttling loads of people back and forth to the Beautiful Buckboard Inn in Beach!  The musical was fantastic, the pitchfork fondue was tasty, and the group was even recognized at the show. 

    The weather was the real hero for the trip, as the whole country had been experiencing smoke filled skies, but ended up clearing for the whole weekend.  

    Stay tuned for adventures next summer that these two aviators cook up!

  • January 04, 2022 10:47 | Anonymous

    The Bowman Regional Airport (BWW) recently hosted a Fly-In and Poker Run, which included supper and bombing competition on June 26, 2021. Thirteen airports across North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana were involved. New Town Airport and Bison Airport hosted breakfasts, and Bowman Regional Airport hosted supper. Cash prizes were awarded to five-card and seven-card poker run winners, as well as bomb competition winners.  Door prizes and kid prizes were also awarded. A basic medical/ FAA Physicals presentation was given by a Bismarck doctor.

    Despite rain showers in the areas, some 38 aircraft landed at BWW. Another highlight was the arrival of a United States Air Force Huey helicopter, coming from Colorado Springs and heading to Minot Air Force Base. Everyone enjoyed the crew tours, night goggles, equipment, and interior. Due to weather, the crew spent the night and headed out the next morning.

    The BWW Airport Manager, Brent Kline, commented that “After the lockdowns of 2020, aviators were eager to hit the airways again. We look forward to the 2022 Fly-In and Poker Run!”

  • January 04, 2022 10:40 | Anonymous

    Looking for a fun place to visit this fall? Check out Tioga, ND, the Oil Capital of North Dakota!

    Here are a few local attractions to explore:

    Drone Camp for Kids

    Tioga is home to a free drone camp for kids each August. It is a two day program that teaches aerodynamics, principles of flight, and aviation career opportunities. Visit their website to learn more.

    Hours: August 2022 dates TBA


    Norseman Museum

    The Norseman  Museum is proud to be the curator and historian of Tioga. With over 400,000 artifacts, exhibits cover the history of local churches, farming and ranching, schools, military, Native Americans, oil and gas, and the railroad. 

    Hours: Sat and Sun, 2pm to 5pm

    Address: 108 Welo St N, Tioga, ND 58852


    If you work up an appetite while exploring Tioga, here are a few dining recommendations:

    AJ Cafe

    Italian American dining for every occasion. Menu includes chicken, pasta, wine, burgers, and beers. 

    Hours: Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-8pm, Mon-Fri 10am-10pm

    Address: 121 Gilbertson St N, Tioga, ND 58852


    Red Moose Coffee Hus

    A unique, downtown coffee shop offering a variety of coffee beverages, along with fruit smoothies, teas, chai and Redbull infused beverages coined “Northern Lights.”

    Hours: Sat & Sun 9:30am-5:30pm, Mon-Fri 7am-7pm

    Address: 102 Main St N, Tioga, ND 58852


    Please visit these locations’ websites 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  

  • December 13, 2021 11:35 | Anonymous

    By Ryan Thayer, Executive Director/CEO, Fargo Air Museum

    As we approach the end of the year and take a look at the year of 2021, the Fargo Air Museum has many  things to be grateful for. We added two different youth camps this year, STEAM and  Introduction to Aviation, as well as an adult education series, History Nights. Look for even more education expansion in 2022!

    We have new exhibits featuring the Blue Angels and our Military Spotlight exhibit to help  celebrate each and every military branch. The museum has two new interactive exhibits! We  received a North Dakota Main Street grant and a very generous donation from the Warren B.  and Irene O. Diederich Fund to be able to finish and open our virtual reality flight simulator lab in June. I-Sight Drones also donated a new drone cage and mini drones to fly. As members, you can get free time in the flight simulator lab and in the drone cage! Make sure to check them  both out.

    And probably the most exciting news of all is the continued restoration of the BT-13 and a new  restoration project, the Stinson Reliant. The remaining pieces of the Stinson Reliant have  arrived at the museum after spending many years at the Casselton Regional Airport. We are  eagerly looking forward to starting the restoration process on this incredible vintage aircraft.  The Stinson Reliant V-77 Gullwing is a gorgeous single-engine, five-seat, high-wing monoplane,  powered by a radial engine. It was developed as a civilian sports and executive aircraft in the  mid-1930’s and was popular in the private and commercial market in the U.S. and overseas.  The United States Air Forces in WWII used it as a utility aircraft, designated UC-81 and as a  trainer designated AT-19. After the war, they were sold on the civilian market as the Vultee V-77.  The V-77 was a spartan version of the SR-10 with the 300 horsepower Lycoming R680-E3B engine, a single door on the left side, and the traditional “bump” cowl was replaced with a simpler smooth cowl. It is an amazing, historic aircraft that we plan to restore to an airworthy condition. We are currently looking for volunteers to help with its restoration! 

    We are very thankful for all our sponsors, donors, friends, staff, our Board of Directors, and the  community for all your support! We could not have a special place like the Fargo Air Museum  without your support. So on behalf of all of us at the Fargo Air Museum, we would like to say  thank you for all your help and support! 


    Ryan Thayer is the Executive Director/CEO of the Fargo Air Museum. He has been involved with aviation since birth, received his solo license at 16, and his private pilot’s license at 18 from the University of North Dakota, as well as an Entrepreneurship Degree. He has always been passionate about aviation and business and is thrilled to be able to pursue both of his passions at the Fargo Air Museum. 

  • December 13, 2021 11:26 | Anonymous


    Hunter Anderson, Central High Grand Forks

    Sponsored by: UND

    Neil Baccay, Williston High

    Sponsored by: Overland Aviation

    Zoe Bundy, Fargo Davies

    Sponsored by: Dakota Territory Air Museum & Fargo Jet

    Jace Leshuk, Hillsboro High

    Sponsored by: Ron/Leah Lundquist

    Ali Moses, Thompson High

    Sponsored by: Dakota Territory Air Museum & UND

    Christian Riexinger, Magic city campus high

    Sponsored by: Minot Aerocenter

    Brian Wright, W Fargo Sheyenne High

    Sponsored by: Dakota Territory Air Museum & NDAA

  • December 13, 2021 11:25 | Anonymous

    An amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would reverse the FAA’s sudden change in flight training policy for certain types of aircraft garnered approval from the House of Representatives on September 23.

    The bipartisan amendment put forward by Reps. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Kai Kahele (D-Hawaii) clarifies that a flight instructor providing student instruction, flight instruction, or flight training shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire.

    “This is an important first step toward a solution to the FAA’s misguided interpretation on flight training. The FAA did not heed the Committee’s bipartisan call to work toward a consensus solution in July, and now Congress is taking action,” said Graves. “I look forward to working with Rep. Kahele and our allies in both parties and both chambers to ensure that a legislative solution to the FAA’s new flight training guidance makes it into the final NDAA package.”

    Kahele said, “I am pleased to cosponsor this bipartisan amendment with my colleague, Rep. Sam Graves. This important amendment will clear up the confusion associated with flight instruction for general aviation pilots and I look forward to working with the Senate to ensure it is signed into law.”

    Although the amendment would restore what has been precedent for 60 years, the FAA’s ill-advised July 12 flight training directive currently requires operators of certain categories of aircraft to obtain a letter of deviation authority (LODA) in order to conduct flight training. According to the FAA, LODAs “prevent operators from broadly offering their aircraft for joyrides and other similar experiences under the guise of ‘flight training.’”

    But the agency’s new policy has triggered an onslaught of backlash from AOPA and its members, as well as various stakeholders who believed it to be nothing more than red tape and paperwork exercises that do nothing to enhance safety—quite the opposite.

    Even FAA Administrator Steve Dickson called the LODA a “four-letter word” and “document drill” at an EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 forum, telling aviators, “I’m not any happier about this situation than you are.”

    Thousands of general aviation pilots were put in regulatory noncompliance practically overnight—causing much confusion among the flying community. This uncertainty led AOPA to reach out to allies in Congress to fight for commonsense legislation.

    On July 22, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Graves introduced the Certainty for General Aviation Pilots Act of 2021 in both chambers to address the issue. Subsequently, AOPA President Mark Baker launched a call to action to members urging them to reach out to their elected officials in Congress to support the legislation. This action, used sparingly but effectively by AOPA, resulted in a swift and strong response, with nearly 100,000 letters sent to members of Congress in a matter of weeks.

    “We certainly appreciate the bipartisan effort on this and can’t thank Representative Sam Graves and Representative Kai Kahele enough for their work to quickly address this important safety issue.  We will continue to work with them as well as Senator Jim Inhofe and others to help move this to the president’s desk for signature,” said Baker.

    The legislation is supported by AOPA, the Commemorative Air Force, the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Flight School Association of North America, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International, the International Council of Air Shows, the National Air Transportation Association, the North American Trainer Association, the National Business Aviation Association, and the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators.

  • December 13, 2021 11:11 | Anonymous

    Around 70 Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment, departed Bismarck, N.D., en route to their nine-month mission in the National Capital Region (NCR) on Nov. 12, 2020. Some Soldiers drove their private vehicles while others traveled by UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from N.D. National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility in Bismarck, N.D. (National Guard photos and story by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs Office)

    This past summer, four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters performed a flyover of Nationals Park stadium at the conclusion of the national anthem before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The trail aircraft is assigned to the N.D. National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment. 

    The N.D. National Guard crew operated the trail aircraft in the formation and consisted of pilots Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Kilber and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dana Clifford; and crewchiefs Sgt. Zach Vollan and SGT Logan Maier. The trail position gave the N.D. Guard aviators the best vantage point of the formation allowing them to provide timely inflight correction instructions to adjust the other three aircraft’s spacing, speed, etc. during the flyover mission.

    (National Guard story by Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Kilber, 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment)

    About 17 N.D. National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment returned home to North Dakota, Aug. 7, 2021. These Army aviators returned to airports in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot. The remainder of the company returned within a few weeks via privately owned vehicles and in Black Hawk helicopters. (National Guard story by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland, N.D. National Guard Public Affairs)

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