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  • November 19, 2021 11:36 | Anonymous

    The fifth annual Props & Hops fundraiser event was held at the Mandan Regional Airport - Lawler Field on October 7, 2021. The event took place on a beautifully warm and sunny evening in the Mandan Aero Center hangars and was open to the public. There were about 225 attendees, ranging from airport regulars to event sponsors to the local community, who enjoyed locally brewed beer, delicious home-cooked ribs, and live music from local artists Ben Suchy and Chuck Suchy. There was also an aircraft static display and silent auction. 

    This year, all Props & Hops proceeds were dispersed amongst local Aircraft Technicians, actively working in the General Aviation industry and who live within 65 miles of the Bismarck/Mandan area. The selection committee chose to recognize Aircraft Technicians this year to appreciate them for the hard work they put in keeping aviation safe.  Aircraft Technicians being defined as individuals that actively work in positions as A&P Mechanics, Avionics Techs, Repairman, Restoration Specialist or Apprentice Technicians. 20 technicians were honored at the event and received a portable toolbox. The financial gift can be put towards tools or continuing education.

    “Aircraft Mechanics go through a rigorous training program and work in the tough North Dakota weather to make sure all airplanes are safe; privately owned and commercial flights alike,” says Props & Hops committee member Dr. Danny Van Buskirk. “Their work often goes unnoticed because we don’t see just how hard they work. We just know that our airplanes make it safely to our destination. As a committee, we really wanted to bring to light how much these individuals contribute. Aircraft Mechanics are the unsung heroes of the aviation industry.” 

    Props & Hops is a state and federally registered 501c3 nonprofit organization that was founded in 2017. The organization’s mission is to bring positive attention to the aviation community by showcasing the benefits that the airport brings to local communities and raise funds for aviation related causes that are tied to Bismarck/Mandan and surrounding area. The organization designates a selection committee made up of five local aviators to determine an annual beneficiary within the surrounding aviation community. Props & Hops has been able to donate over $50,000 to selected causes over the years.

    Here are a few of the local Aircraft Technicians, titled the unsung heroes of local aviation,  who were honored at the 2021 Props & Hops event:

    Kent Picard, Chief of Maintenance, Basin Electric Power Cooperative

    Q: Where are you from?

    Redding, CA, a city at the North end of the Sacramento Valley, about 120 miles from Oregon.

    Q: How long have you been an Aircraft Technician?

    Since December of 1999

    Q: What made you want to be an Aircraft Technician?

    I always enjoyed working on mechanical equipment, aircraft were not on my radar but when the opportunity for school came up I was excited to head that direction and have enjoyed it.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    Spartan School of Aeronautics, Tulsa, OK

    Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an Aircraft Mechanic?

    The people: aviation is a fairly small community and the people I have met and work with are very enjoyable.

    Q: What is your favorite Aircraft?

    Cessna Caravan, it is the ¾ ton truck of the sky.  It is reliable, comfortable, with plenty of room for maintenance. It is a simple aircraft to work on and can carry quite a bit.

    Erik Peterson, Lead A&P Technician, Bismarck Aero Center  

    Q: Where are you from?

    Bismarck, ND

    Q: How long have you been an Aircraft Technician?

    A little over 15 years

    Q: What made you want to be an Aircraft Technician?

    I have always liked aviation and I am very mechanically minded, so I combined both and became an aircraft mechanic.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    I got my A&P certification at Westwood College of Aviation Technology in Broomfield, CO and received my B.S. in Aviation Management at UND. 

    Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an Aircraft Mechanic?

    I like solving a problem that is very hard to figure out, usually one that other people have tried to figure out but could not. Also, getting called out to an airline where everyone is waiting to go and taking care of the issue and seeing everyone happy and relieved that they still get to leave on time.

    Q: What is your favorite Aircraft?

    Probably the Boeing 727. I used to work on them and I have always thought they were cool. Currently, my favorite aircraft to work on has become both the Cirrus SR20 and SR22.

    John Martin, Senior Avionics Technician, Bismarck Aero Center

    Q: Where are you from?

    Bismarck, ND

    Q: How long have you been an Aircraft Technician?

    40 Years

    Q: What made you want to be an Aircraft Technician?

    Because I was a pilot, I wanted to own my own aircraft and I could afford it if I was able to do the maintenance myself.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    I got my training by working under an A&P mechanic in an aero club and in the U.S. Air Force.

    Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an Aircraft Mechanic?

    The love the challenges and making customers happy for the pride I take in my work.

    Q: What is your favorite Aircraft?

    My favorite aircraft is a F4U Corsair and the F14 Tom Cat.

    Loran Urlacher, Director of Maintenance, Missouri Valley Aviation Management, LLC

    Q: Where are you from?

    New England, ND

    Q: How long have you been an Aircraft Technician?

    I started my career in January 1992. I have worked at BF Goodrich Aerospace, Northwest Airlines, Delta Airlines, Bismarck Aero Center, and MVAM.   

    Q: What made you want to be an Aircraft Technician?

    I grew up on a farm, where working on and fixing equipment was not an option but a requirement. As a senior in high school, I was on a commercial flight and during that flight I was inspired to work on aircraft.

    Q: Where did you receive your training?

    Dakota Aero Tech in Fargo, ND

    Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an Aircraft Mechanic?

    My favorite part is the feeling you get when you stand outside and watch the aircraft take off. The most rewarding aspect for me is that the ownership group allows and trusts me to maintain their aircraft which family/friends and coworkers fly on.

    Q: What is your favorite Aircraft?

    My favorite aircraft is one that isn’t broke! I really enjoy working on aircraft that require you to be a computer programmer and a technician. It is a whole different way of maintaining an aircraft, when you need to hook up your laptop to the aircraft and start troubleshooting. 

  • November 19, 2021 11:30 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) is a state agency that runs on a biennial budget that is approved by the state’s elected leaders each legislative session. We recently closed the books on the previous biennium which ran from July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2021; I am excited to provide you with a breakdown of our revenue and expenditures over that time period. My goal is that this showcases transparency and our commitment to providing the public with an efficient operation that delivers a large amount of agency revenue directly back to support and improve our state’s aviation community.

    A breakdown of the NDAC’s Biennial Revenue:

    Aircraft Registrations



    Aircraft Excise Tax



    Federal Funds



    Aviation Fuel Tax



    General Funds



    Carry-Over Special Funds



    Other Revenue Sources






    This past biennium we received an unexpected increase in aircraft excise tax revenue, as more individuals and companies purchased aircraft than originally forecasted. Aviation fuel tax revenue, however, was below forecast due to less fuel being purchased, particularly by the airlines during the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that the overall revenue received by the agency resulted in a 39% increase over what was forecasted to be received at the start of the biennium. All additional funds that are received above and beyond the forecast results in a healthy special fund balance and the ability for the agency to provide additional airport infrastructure grant allocations in future years.

    A breakdown of the NDAC’s Biennial Expenditures:

    Airport Grants



    Aviation Education Grants



    Salaries & Benefits



    Operating Expenses



    Statewide Planning Projects






    As you can see from the biennial expenditure breakdown, 81% of our agency’s expenditures went back to our local communities in the form of airport infrastructure grants. These funds are provided each year to assist our 89 public-use airports with an assortment of high priority rehabilitation or expansion projects. Over this time period, these funds also complimented and leveraged Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Funds (AIP) for North Dakota airport projects in approximately $150 million dollars. 

    Our agency’s operating expenses were also significantly lower than expected, due to cost-saving measures and reductions in spending that took place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The operating expenditures also include the costs for all of the agency’s programs that are offered to airports and the public, such as our Automated Weather Observing System(AWOS) maintenance program, windsock program, passport program, and many others which you can discover on our website.

    I am also pleased to announce that a recent audit of the previous biennium concluded with no informal or informal findings or recommendations. Your Aeronautics Commissioners and staff continually work hard on a daily basis to ensure that any funds that the agency receives are being put to its best use, as we continue our mission of maintaining and growing North Dakota’s airport infrastructure and aviation industry. 

    Wishing you smooth flying,

    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • November 10, 2021 12:25 | Anonymous

    We have had a busy last few months in the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA). In August, we held the first annual Fly-ND Summerfest in Washburn, ND. We enjoyed a fun golf tournament at the Painted Woods Golf Course, followed by a wonderful supper and the induction of Bill Beeks (see photo) into the Hall of Fame. Watch for more information on the 2022 Summerfest event to be announced soon!

    In October, the NDAA held its second annual Fly-ND Aviation Career Expo in Minot with over 150 students in attendance and 11 scholarships were given out!

    At Summerfest, the membership committee announced the first of some new member benefits rolling out. As a member, you will have access to an online membership card on the Wild Plum app. When you show that membership card at participating FBOs, you will be eligible for a fuel discount. We of course couldn’t do this without the help of our awesome participating FBOs! I’m proud to announce the FBOs that have graciously jumped at the opportunity to launch this program. They are Fargo Jet Center, Executive Air Taxi Corporation, Bismarck Aero Center, Minot AvFlight, Overland Aviation, Grand Forks AvFlight, and Western Edge Aviation. Thank you once again to these businesses! Stay tuned for more membership benefits to roll out.

    If you are not currently a member of the NDAA, please log on to and join today! Membership is open to any individual and to businesses as well. 

    Lastly, mark your calendars for the upcoming 2022 NDAA Fly-ND Conference in Fargo, ND this March

    Take care, Justin

    Justin Weninger, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Associaton

  • November 10, 2021 12:14 | Anonymous

    You’ve got a chance to win a 2022 Avalon Catalina Quad Lounge Pontoon with a Mercury 115 hp out board engine and a Karavan Tandem Axle Trailer. This beautiful pontoon is built with superior construction and great interior features. Avalon is a worldwide leader in the most innovative, exciting, and upscale pontoon boats that have been tested in some of the roughest waters in the world! They have won multiple awards for manufacturing, innovation, and performance!

    For over 40 years, Avalon has been producing the finest U.S.A. manufactured pontoon boats, and it’s only gotten better from there!

    A few of the features with this luxurious and comfortable pontoon include:

    • Four corners of comfortable seating options
    • Open floor plan and plenty of space with central walking areas in the classic Catalina style
    • Two aft and two forward sunbathing lounges or side-by-side seating with the driver
    • Commander low back reclining drivers chair with self-leveling arms
    • Privacy station curtain
    • Fusion RA-670 Stereo with a USB input and charge

    Proceeds from this contest will provide financial assistance to High School Juniors, Seniors or recent GED recipients who plan to pursue advanced education in the field of aviation. Students planning to attend post-secondary education in the areas of Professional Pilot, Aviation Maintenance, Aviation Engineering, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Airport/Aviation Management, Atmospheric Sciences, Air Traffic Control, or other aviation related fields. Thank you for your support!



  • November 10, 2021 12:03 | Anonymous

    Watch for more Fly-ND Career Expos coming soon!

  • September 21, 2021 11:26 | Anonymous

    The North Dakota Aviation Association needs your help. We are looking for volunteers to help with the Fly-ND Summerfest in Washburn, ND, this August and at the Fly-ND Career Expo, in Minot, ND, this October. Summerfest, on August 19, includes the NDAA Scholarship Golf Tournament, several self-guided activities for non-golfers, the Hall of Fame presentation, as well as a BBQ Social. The Career Expo, on October 6, has a mission to introduce and inspire high school senior high and college age students to the many careers available throughout the aviation industry. To learn more about these events, please visit: 

    We have separated the volunteer responsibilities into groups to make the most of your volunteer time. You can participate in as many as you’d like! Here are ways you can help: 

    Outreach and Exhibitor Committee: This committee will be responsible for reaching out to find exhibitors. We have a great list of people who may want to attend. However, we need help in reaching out to these people to encourage them to participate. 

    On-site Logistics Committee: This committee will be responsible for helping coordinate onsite logistics at the event. Including, but not limited to, exhibitor set up, student attendees, and overall event setup. Most of this committee’s work will be done onsite at the event. 

    Scholarship Committee: This committee will be responsible for soliciting sponsorship dollars from potential donors. In addition, this committee will review scholarship applicants and select scholarship winners. 

    Finally, if you can’t help but would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please visit:

    The North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) has several opportunities for involvement. Volunteers are needed to support the annual Fly-ND Conference, the Career Expo, Membership Committee, or any of our active committees. 

    If you are interested in volunteering, please reach out to Mike or Stacy in the NDAA Central Office at or call 701-223-3184 to learn more.

  • September 21, 2021 11:22 | Anonymous

    Here in Charlie’s Corner, we share stories from aviation maintenance technicians. All of these stories and situations are completely true. The names in the following story have been changed to protect the identity of the guilty. And as always, do not try this at work and certainly not at home.

    Did you know that three men were involved in the invention and development of the first powered airplane? You likely are familiar with the Wright brothers, but you may not know of Charles E. “Charlie” Taylor. If it hadn’t been for Charlie, the first powered airplane would never have left the ground. Charlie Taylor is credited with designing and building the engine for the first successful aircraft. He proved to history that pilot’s can’t fly without their mechanics. 

     Joe, a commercial airlines mechanic, was in the check hangar doing a crown inspection of a DC-10. For this particular inspection, he was secured in the boatswain’s chair, which was connected to the overhead hoist. The boatswain’s chair was used as a safety precaution, as the crown of the airplane was not only approximately 40-feet in the air but also round and slippery. Joe’s friend on the floor, also an aircraft mechanic, held the controls for the chair. 

    It should be noted that this particular mechanic, Joe, had played many practical jokes on his co-worker friends. He was quite deserving of what happened next.

    While Joe was completing the inspection, lunchtime arrived. His mechanic friend on the floor used the controls to raise the boatswain’s chair to the hangar ceiling, about two stories in height. The friend then left for his half hour lunch break, leaving Joe stranded in the chair. Joe began to yell, and the other mechanics in the hangar noticed his predicament. As he wasn’t in any danger, everyone chuckled and went to lunch. When Joe was finally released from his chair prison, after having a half hour to think, he quickly repented of his many pranks and promised to tone down the severity of his future antics. 

    Story submitted by John, a 30+ years commercial airlines aircraft maintenance technician

    Are you an aviation mechanic with an interesting story to share? Submit your stories to:

  • September 21, 2021 11:12 | Anonymous

    On June 13, 2021, I had the honor to present a fellow aviator and friend the Federal Aviation Administration’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. The event was sponsored by EAA Chapter 1008 during their Fly-In at the Mandan Regional Airport, Lawler Field. 

    The Wright Brothers Award recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years. 

    James D. McLeish has been developing his skills and safely flying for more than 62 years, which places him well on his way to the 100 year award (If there was one), an award he tells me he will try to shoot for. Go Jim!

    62 years ago, Airman James D. McLeish, sitting in the baggage sling of his father’s friend’s Ercoupe, took to the skies. From that point and all through his high school years, Jim dreamt of becoming a pilot. With the help of a friend, Jim accumulated four hours of time in a Cessna 140 before going off to college, which had a flying club on campus but no aircraft. Jim, along with a few of his club members, organized and managed to purchase a Cessna 140 for $2200. His first solo was on November 22, 1960, out of the Fort Collins Airport in a Cessna 150. The remainder of Jim’s training was in a Cessna 140, up to his Private Pilot check ride, which he took out of the Denver Stapleton Airport on June 7, 1961.

    Jim has flown several various types of aircraft over the years: Cessna, Piper, and Beech single engine and several multi-engine aircraft, including a B55 Beech Baron, a TC-56 Baron, and a B60 Duke. One of his particular favorites was an A33 Beech Debonair. Later on, he flew a N35 Beechcraft Bonanza with the curious but appropriate endorsement of “you are checked out in the Debonair; it’s about the same, just go.” Not something you’d see in a logbook today.

    Joining the United States Air Force Reserve in 1966, Jim earned his Instrument Rating along with Trans World Airlines (TWA) new hires, trained on the airbase where he was stationed.

    From 1968 to 1973, Jim was a company pilot flying the Duke, a Cessna 180, and J35 Bonanza. That pretty much kept him flying every few weeks or so until his final trip with the company in December of 1973.

    Since that time, Jim and his wife, Yvonne, moved back to their farm here in the Dakotas, where they live today.

    Jim’s trip of a lifetime? Jim’s brother and family lived in Costa Rica and had obtained a Duke they needed to bring back to the states. Since Jim had the experience and willingness to get the legally required Costa Rican private pilot license, he then managed to fly the Nicaraguan and Cuban airspace all the way to Florida. The U.S. Government and Nicaraguan Government were not getting along at that time, so he flew off the coast flying parallel to the airway to the Grand Cayman Islands for fuel. The flight over Cuba to Key West and Miami was exciting, trying to make sure he understood the clearances. 

    Jim, along with his neighbor, have restored and flown various other aircraft over the years, such as a  K-35 Bonanza, 1946 Ercoupe, Cessna 150 they converted to a tailwheel aircraft, and a Piper PA12. The day of the award, Jim joined us with his favorite aircraft, the Beech Bonanza seen here in the photo. 

    Jim has served as president of the North Dakota Flying Farmers. He’s been on the North Dakota Aviation Council, and supports aviation organizations such as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA), and the American Bonanza Society. With more than 4700 hours of total time, Airman James D. McLeish has lived the aviation dream.

    As a National FAA Safety Team ASI, Fellow Airman, Colleague, friend, it is my honor to have presented the FAA Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award to Mr. James D. McLeish. 

    Jay M Flowers/National FAASTeam ASI/AFS-850

  • August 09, 2021 12:20 | Anonymous

    Here’s a list of 10 aviation podcasts to tune into: 

    1. Pilot to Pilot 

    Hosted by Justin Siems, a corporate pilot.

    2. There I Was… 

    Host AOPA Air Safety Institute. Find it on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

    3. The Fighter Pilot Podcast 

    Hosted by Vincent “Jell-O” Aiello, a retired U.S. Navy fighter pilot.

    4. Rotor Radio

    Hosted by Vertical Magazine. Find it on Apple Podcasts.

    5. The Finer Points

    Hosted by Jason Miller, a certified flight instructor.

    6. Stuck Mic AvCast

    Hosted by Carl Valeri and his team of co hosts. 

    7. AviatorCast

    Hosted by Chris Palmer, a certified flight instructor.

    8. Airline Pilot Guy Show

    Hosted by Capt Jeff, an airline pilot and graduate of the Accident Investigation and Flight Safety School. or on Apple Podcasts.

    9. Cockpits & Cocktails

    An all-female podcast hosted by Allyssa VanMeter and Natalie Kelley. Find it on Apple Podcasts.

    10. The Green Dot

    Hosted by the EAA. or on Apple Podcasts.

  • August 09, 2021 12:15 | Anonymous

    As seen on the cover... 

    Photo by Jerome Behm at his high school graduation mini reunion in June. There were 10 of the original 29 students from the Des Lacs High School Class of 1965. The airplane, Mom’s Worry, is a recently rebuilt 1947 Piper PA-12-160. 

    Jerome Behm, the owner, is pictured third from the right.

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