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  • May 18, 2022 16:39 | Anonymous

    If there was a lesson to be learned over the events of the past two years, I would contend that many of us have come to realize the incredible importance and value of human interactions and real-life experiences, all of which aviation helps to provide to us. Aviation brings people together. 

    I have been asked many times, particularly in the initial stages of the pandemic, if aviation would ever see a full comeback, due to the virtual capabilities now available for both personal and business interactions. My response has always been the same: though virtual technology has incredible benefits and uses, it doesn’t and never will (in my opinion) replace the tangible value that is provided from in-person connections and an exposure to new adventures and opportunities. Positive experiences and relationships are also imperative for strong emotional and mental health. Those who escape into the “metaverse” will always be missing out from the benefits of cultivating meaningful relationships and embarking on impactful adventures. Stated another way, the benefits that aviation is designed to provide for people has never been more valuable.

    Our goal at the state level of government is to work with all of you to grow and improve the standard of living within our communities by enhancing access to the world of aviation. Here at the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC), we believe in working with and empowering our local community leaders to make informed decisions that have positive impacts on aviation. The public-use airport facilities around the state of North Dakota (all 89 of them) are your airports, and we are excited to partner with our local groups to help ensure that they have the support that they need to continue to grow, maintain, and advocate for those facilities. 

    Local leadership and advocacy efforts are also critical to ensure the success of an airport. I can assure you that the most successful facilities around the state are the ones with active community leaders that understand and appreciate the benefits that aviation provides. If you are looking for ways to get involved within your airport community, there are opportunities aplenty. Whether it’s through local volunteer efforts, serving on an airport authority, or joining a statewide aviation advocacy group such as the North Dakota Aviation Association, there are many ways to help support aviation on a local level.

    An important event that occurs each spring that allows free flowing ideas and networking opportunities in the field of aviation is our “Fly North Dakota” aviation conference. I want to personally thank everyone that came to participate in the event this past spring, as it was a great feeling to once again participate in a large in-person venue that gathered aviators from all areas of the state to discuss current and future aviation related issues. At the conference, we were also able to recognize 17 individuals that have made achievements in the “Fly North Dakota Airports” Passport Program, induct Leo Jostad into the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame, and provide multiple other awards for excellence in aviation that are showcased in this issue of the Fly-ND Quarterly

    I also want to mention that the NDAC staff recently met to discuss and vote on our team values. If you ever have the opportunity to work with us, we hope that you are able to experience and see these attributes continually at work for aviation in North Dakota. The values that are integral to our team include: knowledge, collaboration, reliability, commitment, and safety. We are also excited to get out of the office this summer to conduct airport site visits and to learn more about the challenges and opportunities that are faced by the aviation community. Please contact us if you are interested in meeting with us or inviting us to your airport, business, or community for a visit.

    Lastly, I am also excited to see multiple fly-in’s being planned throughout the state over the next few months as aviation is further utilized to bring people together. Be sure to check out the upcoming aviation events page on our website at aero.nd.gov and please let us know if you have an activity that you would like us to list on this page as well. 

    We are truly fortunate to have an incredible aviation community in North Dakota. During the next few months, I hope you are able to have a safe and enjoyable experience, as you take in everything that our great state has to offer.

    Wishing you smooth flying, 


    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 | kcwanner@nd.gov



  • May 18, 2022 16:02 | Anonymous

    On March 6-8, 2022, the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) held its annual Fly-ND Conference in Fargo, ND. This was the return to the in-person format, after the virtual event held the year prior. It was great to again bring all of us together and enjoy each other’s company and camaraderie. 

    The conference started with a fun Ice Breaker Social at the Fargo Air Museum, which included the induction of this year’s Passport Award Winners. We had a number of great presenters throughout Monday and Tuesday, with many notable sessions. Monday night was the Exhibitor Night, with a number of fun door prizes given out, including a Garmin Watch donated by Garmin. 

    On Tuesday night, we held the Hall of Fame Banquet at the Fargo Air Museum, which was a departure from typically holding it at the conference hall. This was a fun venue to hear and share the stories of the night; the event was emceed by local television personality, Dan Michaels. We congratulated Grand Forks International Airport as the 2022 Commercial Airport of the Year, and Hillsboro Municipal Airport as the 2022 General Aviation Airport of the year. The North Dakota Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) handed out a number of scholarships to student winners. Vance Emerson, from the FAA, was in attendance to hand out three diamond maintenance awards, as well as the Charles Taylor Award and the Master Pilot Award, both to Rich Altendorf. 

    The main event of the evening was to welcome Leo Jostad into the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. We were treated to the showing of Leo’s Hall of Fame video, and then an interview of Leo by Dan Michaels. This was truly an inspirational evening watching Leo’s dedication to aviation. Congratulations again to Leo on his selection. 

    It was great to see and talk to all of you again in person, and I cannot wait to see you all in Bismarck next year!

    Justin Weninger, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Associaton

    chairman@fly-nd.com


  • March 16, 2022 13:05 | Anonymous

    By Janell Pederson, Licensing Specialist, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    This spring will be the first opportunity for operators to apply for an aerial applicator license specifically for unmanned aircraft. North Dakota Administrative Law 6-02-02 has been updated and now includes requirements and safety standards for unmanned aircraft operators to provide aerial application in North Dakota. 

    All aerial applicators, both manned and unmanned, are required to meet safety standard criteria and receive licensure from our office. The license fee for either of the aerial applicator licenses will remain at $200. A manned operator that also meets the criteria of the unmanned operator license will need to complete a separate application to be granted that license. However, an additional fee will not be assessed.

    Operators of all unmanned aircraft used for aerial application must hold FAA Part 137 (Agriculture Operator Certification) and hold a current air/ground core pesticide certification from North Dakota State University (NDSU). All unmanned pilots must also hold an FAA remote pilot certificate, attend annual safety training, and have attended an approved training program or have received at least ten hours of direct ground-supervised solo flights at operations loads while conducting aerial application. All unmanned aircraft used for aerial application must also be listed on the license, have a maximum operating weight of five-hundred pounds or less, and have paid an aircraft registration fee with our office. 

    It is also the operator’s responsibility to ensure that any chemicals being disbursed from the aircraft are legal and meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Dakota Department of Agriculture guidelines. 

    If you have any specific questions on this new license, visit the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) website at aero.nd.gov or give us a call at (701) 328-9560.


  • March 16, 2022 13:01 | Anonymous

    The first woman from her tribe to pursue commercial aviation at UND, Elspeth Thomas doesn’t intend to be the last.

    It took a while for Elspeth Thomas to determine what she wanted out of college, but she knew it when she saw it.

    Sitting in the cockpit of an airplane was all it took for her to make up her mind.

    With the flight controls at arm’s reach, staring at the flat expanse of earth and its horizon below, Thomas sensed at that moment where her ambitions and her UND major belonged.

    “I just knew it was exactly what I wanted to do,” she said.

    And, in making that decision, she likely became the first woman from the Standing Rock Lakota Tribe to pursue a commercial aviation degree at UND.

    Miracles of flight

    As Thomas tells the tale, her UND aviation story began in Noren Hall, where she’d lived on campus since coming to UND in 2016. Noren is a residence hall popular with students in the aviation program.

    “I was trying a bunch of different classes at the time, and I ended up making a lot of friends in aviation,” Thomas said. “And one day, I went flying with one of those friends, and I was in the front seat.”

    As the small aircraft hummed above UND, Grand Forks and the Red River Valley, she experienced life at the controls, if only for a moment.

    That exposure to the miracle of flight likely brought forth long-forgotten memories, based on her childhood experiences and fascination with flying.

    “Both of my parents and a couple other family members were in the Air Force, and I was exposed to aviation at a young age,” Thomas told UND Today.

    Though she has always called Grand Forks home, her mother was born and raised on the Standing Rock Reservation, and Thomas has been an enrolled member of the tribe since birth.

    Her parents, though not on the flight line themselves, were stationed at bases in Cavalier and Grand Forks through much of Thomas’ childhood.

    She recalled a time in elementary school when the students were asked to dress like people who inspired them. Skipping the standard fare of superheroes and sports stars, Thomas dressed as trailblazing pilot Amelia Earhart.

    “So, in a way, flying was always in the back of my mind, but I never thought I could actually go out and do it,” she said. “It wasn’t until I got to college that I thought this could be something I could pursue as a career.”


    First-generation aviation student

    Of course, majoring in commercial aviation – especially at the start of one’s junior year, as in Thomas’ case – is a lot more complicated than just checking a box. But from her experiences and friendships, Thomas understood the gravity of her choice and took time to think it through.

    The result was taking a full semester off to do her own research. Thomas spent hours reading things online, talking to advisors and doing what she could to understand the financial and academic implications, she said.

    “I really wanted to think about my decision and see what it entailed, which turned out to be a lot,” Thomas said with a laugh.

    Today, she’s certified as a commercial pilot with multi-instrument ratings, and she’s working on her certification to become a flight instructor. Thomas estimates that she’ll be graduating by summer 2022. In other words, “I’m very close to being done,” she said.

    Regarding her status of being “first” from Standing Rock, or among the few Native American women to go into aviation at UND, Thomas said she has thought about it, but knows that – despite the challenges she has faced – going into the program would have been a lot more difficult if she had come from a reservation community.

    “Having grown up in Grand Forks, going to the schools here, it wasn’t a big transition coming to UND,” Thomas said. “But I could see how going from life on the reservation to pursuing an aviation degree would be a totally different experience.”

    “Even for me, being a first-generation aviation student, I don’t have parents who are airline pilots, which is the case for many other students,” she continued. “That type of background turns out to be a valuable guide in knowing the right people to talk to and finding the right resources. So, in that way, there can be so many challenges and obstacles to overcome.”

    Also, the fact that Thomas is a woman enrolled in commercial aviation is almost as singular as the fact that she’s Native American. Women pilots represent only 6 percent of the total pilot population, according to Women in Aviation International.

    At UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, which trains students for not only the cockpit but also other careers in aviation, women make up about 15 percent of the students, according to enrollment data.

    As a result, starting out in the program was difficult, due to sitting in classes with only one or two other women in some cases, Thomas said. But as time went on, she made more friends, and the feelings of difference became more trivial as the litany of aviation “unknowns” went away with experience.

    In addition, many of Thomas’ female classmates also are first-generation aviation students, and those peers are among her most important resources on campus, she said. She’s taken an active role in a number of student organizations, including the UND Indian Association, American Indians in Science & Engineering, Women in Aviation and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

    Thomas notes that while she is not Black, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals has rapidly grown and expanded its umbrella to represent other minorities at UND Aerospace. It has become a place for minority students “to come together and have a unified voice,” she said.

    “What you come to realize is that the people you meet come from all over the country and the world to fly here, and they all have different perspectives on life,” Thomas said. “So, even though I’m one of the few Native Americans in the program, I feel as though I’m among a diverse group of women in the field.”


    Sharing in success

    Besides building the flight hours she’ll need for her career in the clouds, Thomas is determined to do right by her tribal community, she said. That means advocating for Native Americans who are similarly interested in aviation careers.

    “In our Lakota culture, and likely other Native nations, the expectation is to give back to your people and your community,” Thomas said. “I want to see more Native people in this field, and I’m always going to try to inspire young people in my community – to open that door for them.”

    With most of her mother’s family living on the Standing Rock Reservation, Thomas makes the five-hour journey to visit when she can.

    “I wasn’t raised in a traditional Lakota home, but my mom always made sure that we are connected to our family, community and culture,” Thomas said. “And within that community, certain values such as humility, respect, compassion and generosity have shaped my decisions as a student pilot and as a person in general.”

    What that means for her career, she said, is that personal success is to be shared with others. The success of one is the success of the community, in other words; and, in return, she will never be short of support.

    “People have heard about how I’m pursuing this career, and I’ll be approached by people I met a long time ago and they congratulate me and say how proud they are,” Thomas said, smiling. “It’s talked about as if I’m doing this for all of us, for the entire community.

    “That’s what I think about and feel when I go in for my exams and my flight tests. Like, ‘OK, I have all of these people behind me to do this.’ It’s a source of strength that I have to overcome challenges and succeed.”

  • March 16, 2022 12:58 | Anonymous

    Vantis is North Dakota’s statewide unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone, network. So far the state of North Dakota has invested $48 million to create and build out Vantis, aiming to enable safe, reliable, and economically-viable UAS flights across the entire state. Making UAS flights like this commonplace requires the ability to fly BVLOS, or beyond the visual line of sight of the pilot. This is why we need Vantis. 

    Why Vantis is a Game-Changer  

    Currently, UAS pilots are required to keep UAS they are flying within their visual line of sight unless they have a special waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowing them to use “daisy-chain” visual observers or some other mitigation to ensure safe control of the aircraft. 

    This barrier is what prevents wide-spread package or medication deliveries, road and infrastructure inspections, large-scale precision agriculture, and large-scale search and rescue efforts using UAS. It’s incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to execute a UAS operation within the space of a half-mile only to pack up, move a half-mile down the road, and continue. It also restricts UAS to following ground infrastructure, rather than as-the-crow-flies. 

    But getting an individual waiver for BVLOS flights is also incredibly difficult – it requires a significant investment of time and resources – and it doesn’t make sense. Every UAS operator getting their own BVLOS waiver is like every truck company building its own roads. Vantis is a state-funded, common infrastructure that will be accessible to all UAS pilots with UAS that meet the minimum requirements – just like with vehicles on toll roads. 

    Enabling BVLOS flights for multiple users on a single network across the entire state of North Dakota means all of the use cases mentioned above – package delivery, infrastructure inspections, search and rescue efforts, etc. – will become commonplace. Vantis will be a blueprint for other states to follow, dramatically changing what is possible with UAS. After all, the people who built the first roads for Model Ts could never have predicted something like a Tesla. 


    Where We’ve Been

    Since the initial investment in May 2019, the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS), which administers Vantis, has worked with aviation giants Collins Aerospace, L3Harris Technologies, and Thales USA as system engineers and integrators to develop the technology necessary to make Vantis possible. Vantis uses ground-based infrastructure in the form of radars, radios, and communications equipment attached to towers – the coverage area of these technologies overlap, creating a coverage area much like a cellphone network. This technology was installed at key sites in Williams and McKenzie Counties on the western side of the state in the Bakken formation, where energy-related use-cases are abundant. 

    In addition to ground-based infrastructure, Vantis uses the state’s fiber optic network to connect to the Mission and Network Operations Center (MNOC). The MNOC is housed at Grand Sky, the nation’s first commercial UAS business and aviation park, which is located at Grand Forks Air Force Base. 

    We have completed our first increment of developmental and operational testing, which ensures that all of the different technologies involved in Vantis are working as expected with a variety of both manned and unmanned aircraft. Most of this testing has been conducted in partnership with uAvionix and Overland Aviation, though at the time of this writing we also have released an RFP soliciting additional UAS to assist in our rigorous testing processes. 

    In October 2021, we down-selected to Thales as our primary system integrator and partner in this endeavor as we move forward towards approvals, first official flights, and new locations. 


    Where We’re Going

    The Red River Valley will host the next Vantis sites. Our strategy in selecting locations has been to go where UAS use-cases already exist, so that once testing and approvals are finalized, flights can begin immediately. The Red River Valley is a region with extensive agricultural use-cases and is also home to two of the largest cities in the state. Thanks to the University of North Dakota (UND) and North Dakota State University (NDSU), there are also a number of UAS operators, researchers, and businesses in this area. 

    The Vantis team, including representatives from NPUASTS and Thales, have already begun reaching out to local leaders and scouting locations for the ground-based infrastructure. In Williams and McKenzie counties, we were able to use North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) towers for most of the technology installations. This will be the goal in the Red River Valley as well – using existing infrastructure saves taxpayer money and allows us to move more quickly in implementation. We expect installations to begin by early spring. 

    Our goal has always been to enable BVLOS flights without negatively affecting manned aviation, and we continue to pursue that goal as we build out Vantis. UAS on Vantis will always give way to manned aircraft, and we take responsibility for seeing and avoiding manned aircraft as well as other obstacles. Outreach in the Red River Valley will include meetings with manned pilots, just like we did in Williams and McKenzie counties, to answer questions, address concerns, and listen to feedback to ensure that the integration of UAS into National Airspace System is as seamless as possible. 

    Out West, we will be finalizing operational testing and working with the FAA in order to get approvals for BVLOS flights on Vantis. By proving that Vantis is a safe and reliable system, we’re also helping the FAA establish criteria for similar technologies in the future. Once we are approved, pilots will have an expedited path to fly BVLOS, leveraging Vantis’ approval and extensive safety testing process. We expect first official flights – true BVLOS flights – in the coming months. 

    Vantis will be available for research and testing, use by public and state agencies, and for commercial operations, providing North Dakotans with the unprecedented benefits of widespread UAS use. Package delivery at your doorstep is only the beginning. With Vantis, the sky is the limit. 

  • March 16, 2022 12:53 | Anonymous

    By Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D. 

    In 1910, Archie Hoxsey, who flew for the Wright Brothers, performed at the Grand Forks Fairgrounds. The special air performance was highly advertised. The Grand Forks Daily Herald proclaimed, “Don’t miss the Aeroplane. The most thrilling and sensational marvel of the age…flights diving from dizzy heights to depths below, mounting majestically to the clouds, death defying but delightful. First and only opportunity to see this greatest of all thrillers in the Northwest.” Wow, pretty compelling copy. North Dakota residents showed up, with over 17,000 attending the performance. 

    But wait! There is even more. A “lucky” Grand Forks citizen won a free demonstration flight in the aeroplane with sky star, Hoxsey. The Grand Forks postmaster, Frank V. Kent, was the winner. Grand Forks earned more firsts because the night flight was the first in the nation with a passenger. This flight was the first under a searchlight. Shrieks and gasps were heard from the crowd. Passenger Kent reported it as the thrill of a lifetime. He was now ready to buy his own airplane! 

    Fast forward over 105 years, Grand Forks was still making aviation history. In celebration of Women’s History Month, an entire crew of U.S. Air Force women, dubbed Lady Hawk, set a world-aviation record. This all-female Air Force crew flew the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk-RQ-4 a record-setting 34.3 hours, nonstop back and forth across North Dakota. The Global Hawk is a high-altitude, remotely-piloted surveillance aircraft. Global Hawks are newer than the Lockheed U-2 with a similar mission. The Global Hawk has a wingspan of 130 feet, equivalent to the size of a Boeing 707 airliner. 

    This stellar team was led by Lt. Col. Amanda Brandt, along with Lt. Col. Catherine Todd, Maj. Mary Marshall, Capt. Natalie Winkels, 1st Lt. Joli Chaisson, and 2nd Lt. Kourtney Kugler piloted the RQ-4. In addition to the six women pilots managing the remote flight, more than 50 support staff and ground crew were also women. According to Lt. Col. Brandt, what differentiates this particular record from others like it, is that all of the women pilots included in the mission came from the same squadron. 

    Historically, groups have had to reach out to other squadrons or units to get enough women together to achieve a record. And while Lt. Col. Brandt is proud of the Lady Hawk record-breaking flight, she also hopes that one day all-female feats will no longer be historic, but a regular occurrence. Amen, sister!

    The newer technology in the Global Hawk uses high-resolution synthetic aperture radar (SAR) combined with long-range electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensors. Star Wars over North Dakota. The Global Hawk crew from Grand Forks surveys as much as 40,000 square miles of ground terrain in a single day, comparable to the size of the nation of South Korea. The obvious intelligence collection capability to support military forces worldwide from the Grand Forks Air Force Base is key in our national defense. 

    In 2015, the mayor of Grand Forks declared a “Grand Forks Celebrates Lady Hawk Day.” In 1955, the Grand Forks Air Force Base was established. By January 1957, it was opened and named after the city of Grand Forks. North Dakota has always been a leader in aviation and innovation. 


    Air Force members of the 348th Reconnaissance Squadron and 319th Air Base Wing in Grand Forks, North Dakota, set a new record for the longest flight by a military aircraft without air refueling. On March 29, 2014, they broke the old record with their RQ-4 Global Hawk remaining aloft for 34.3 hours. The entire flight and ground crews were female. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney)


    Dr. Hamilton is a Laureate of the Colorado Aviation, Colorado Authors’, and Colorado Women’s Halls of Fame. Read about her aviation history books at www.PennyHamilton.com 



  • March 16, 2022 12:50 | Anonymous

    Exploring North Dakota Airports

    Looking for a fun place to visit this winter? Check out historic Grafton, ND! 

    The airport is less than five minutes east of downtown Grafton. The North Dakota airport passport stamp can be found inside the GA Terminal building.

    Here are a few local attractions to explore:

    Heritage Village and Jugville Museum

    A collection of historic buildings and artifacts gathered to re-create life in the past. Special attractions include a furnished farmhouse, farm buildings, a country church, log cabin, depot with caboose, taxidermy shop and a working 1918-model carousel.

    For hours, address, and more, contact 701-360-0088.

     or 701-352-3280.


    Historic Elmwood House

    Historic Elmwood is a 20-acre parcel of land located in an oxbow of the Park River in northeast Grafton. Seven acres are protected in the Natural Area Registry as an example of river bottom forest. About 10 acres are wooded or former fields no longer considered a natural area but containing wild flowers, plants and animal life. On three acres is a beautiful turn-of-the-century Victorian home that is on the National Register of Historic Places. The front doors and banister are oak, the fireplace is maple and remaining woodwork is pine painted to resemble either oak or maple, a technique common in the Victorian era.

    For hours, address, and more, contact 701-352-1842 or 

    (701) 352-0152.


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

    Cabin Road Coffeehouse 

    The coffee is always served hot, but the menu changes every day. “As if you showed up at your friend’s cabin and your friend had something baking in the oven and asked you to stay for a cup of coffee.”

    Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 7am to 2pm

    Address: 24 E 5th St, Grafton, ND 58237

    Website: https://cabinroadcoffeehouse.com

    Granny’s Family Restaurant 

    A sit-down diner with a wide variety of food. 

    Hours: Mon-Sat, 6am to 8pm, Sun, 8am to 8pm

    Address: 910 W 12th St, Grafton, ND 58237

    For more information, call (701) 352-2674


    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 editor@fly-nd.com.  



  • March 09, 2022 11:34 | Anonymous

    By Jill Schramm/MDN Reprinted with permission from The Minot Daily News

    Minot’s new airport director said she wants to use her diverse experiences in aviation management to enhance the activity at Minot International Airport.

    Jennifer Eckman stepped into her new position Oct. 4.

    She previously had served since January 2019 as project manager of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aviation Systems Test Site in Grand Forks. Working in the drone industry in Grand Forks exposed her to a different world of aviation.

    “The concepts and the technologies that enable flying a drone were all pretty new to me. There’s a whole new list of acronyms I had to learn, which in the world of aviation, that’s amazing that there were more acronyms,” she laughed. “I’m hoping with my connections with the Northern Plains that we can bring some of those technologies that I was working on here to this airport.”

    She said there are areas on airport property suitable for growing a UAS business.

    “Actually, we have some of the infrastructure already, where certain types of drones we could already handle,” she said.

    Eckman sees potential for more robust industrial or commercial operations at the airfield. She would like to be involved in diversifying the businesses and opportunities at the airport as well as in developing the airline services and increasing passenger traffic as COVID-19 concerns ease.

    “Obviously, the passenger ridership has been down, but we’re starting to see us come back to the 2019 numbers — slowly, but we’re hoping to get there. With the borders opening soon, I’m hoping and anticipating that we might be getting close to what we were in 2019 by the end of the year,” Eckman said.

    She added that airlines have been maintaining their flights and plan to add a few additional flights over the holidays.

    Eckman said she’s optimistic about the aviation industry, having witnessed its resiliency in the rebound from the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the Y2K transition to a new century in the year 2000.

    A Bismarck native, Eckman said she grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Her career goal adjusted after enrolling in the University of North Dakota’s aviation program.

    “I really enjoyed my airport management classes, and I switched degrees to airport management,” she said.

    She did get a private pilot’s license, although she hasn’t done much flying.“My passion is more in the airport management side,” she said.

    It was that passion that drew her to Minot.

    “I loved my job at the Northern Plains, but I really missed airports. I’ve been working in airports for almost 20 years,” Eckman said. “I have a diverse knowledge of different airports and how they run because I’ve worked at quite a few of them, from interning at something as large as Minneapolis/St. Paul to a smaller airport like Jamestown, North Dakota.”

    She previously had been airport manager in Jamestown, the deputy airport director for finance and administration in Rapid City, S.D., and the airport administrative assistant and airport real estate specialist at Paine Field/Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington.

    Eckman earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a major in airport management, from UND in May 1999 and a master’s of fine arts from California State University-Long Beach in May 2004. She is working toward a master’s in business administration. She also has completed the Accredited Airport Executive program.

    Her husband, a contractor with Boeing, and children will be moving from Grand Forks to Minot later this year when an opportune time in the school year presents itself. The family enjoys biking and hiking and looks forward to getting outdoors in Minot.

    Eckman also expects to be busy on airport projects that require attention, whether it is preparing for winter snow removal or next year’s wetland mitigation projects.

    Her initial weeks on the job have been spent getting to know the airport’s personnel and tenants. Eckman said the chance to work in a beautiful terminal with a great staff has made for a good start. “The team is really great at what they do, and I’m hoping to enhance it to the next level,” she said. “There’s some processes that I’ve seen implemented at other airports that I’m trying to implement here to get us to the next level, to be the best airport we can be.”



  • March 09, 2022 11:31 | Anonymous

    By Adam Dillin, C.M., A.C.E, Airport Planner, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission 

    A successful flight, and sometimes the very safety of crew and passengers, depends on pilots receiving timely information about any disruptive or hazardous circumstances at the airports they plan to use. This is typically accomplished through the issuance of the recently renamed Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs), formerly Notices to Airmen. As a fundamental part of their training, pilots are intensively drilled in the use of NOTAMs. However, for the benefit of any North Dakota airport staff that may not be familiar, this article may serve as a quick introduction.

    What is a NOTAM? 

    All public airports are required to promptly notify pilots when circumstances exist that may impact aircraft at or near their airfield. Common issues are runway closures, construction, wintry surface conditions, failed lighting, hazardous obstructions, and inoperative fuel systems. Issuing NOTAMs in a timely manner can help prevent accidents and legally protect the airport.

    What does a NOTAM look like? 

    The graphic in this article breaks down the components of a typical field condition NOTAM that an airport might issue to advise pilots of hazardous winter conditions. Please note that all NOTAM times are published in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also known as “Zulu.”

    Are there guides for NOTAMs? 

    NOTAMs are often complicated and loaded with acronyms and abbreviations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has some helpful references that can break down the details. A short primer is the NOTAM 101 presentation, found at the FAA’s NOTAM Modernization webpage at faa.gov/about/initiatives/notam/. To dig into the many different terms and examples, visit faa.gov/regulations_policies/  and search for Advisory Circular 150/5200-28F Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) for Airport Operators, the draft Advisory Circular 150/5200-28G, and Order 7930.2S CHG 2 Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM). Also available is the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), which features a handy summary in Section 5-1-3. If your airport isn’t sure if a situation warrants a NOTAM or doesn’t know how to write it up, you can always chat with a Leidos briefer for help (see below).

    How can my airport issue NOTAMs? 

    Getting a NOTAM out to pilots is quick and easy and can be done either online or via telephone. To submit online, airports utilize the FAA websites of either NOTAM Manager or ENOTAMS II. To issue a NOTAM via telephone, airport staff can call the Leidos Outage Reporting and Notice to Airmen Line at 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1-877-487-6867) and follow the prompts to speak with a live briefer. Once filed, it takes mere moments for the NOTAM to be published for pilots across the country and around the world. Please note that airport personnel must be officially registered and authorized before they are able to submit any NOTAMs for your facility.

    How do I register to file NOTAMs? To get registered as an authorized NOTAM issuer for your airfield, use the “New User Registration” link on the NOTAM Manager or ENOTAMS II websites. Or you can contact Leidos via phone at (817)541-3461.

    How do I check my airport’s NOTAMs? 

    It is a good idea to regularly check your airfield’s published NOTAMs to make sure that pilots are getting up-to-date conditions as well as to clear out old or incorrect information. To check your NOTAMs online, go to notams.aim.faa.gov/notamSearch/ and simply enter your airport’s name or identifier.

    I hope this article has helped to provide some insights into the NOTAM system. And thank you to all the hard-working airport personnel around North Dakota that help to keep our airfields safe!



  • January 28, 2022 12:39 | Anonymous


    2x UH-72A Lakotas flight training in Helena, MT, May 2021


    Name, Branch, Rank

    My name is Caleb Hamilton, I am a Captain in the North Dakota Army National Guard and my branch is Aviation.

    Hometown

    My hometown is Sheridan, Wyoming

    Tell us about your job...

    I am a full time LUH72A Lakota Aviation Officer with North Dakota Army National Guard in Fargo, ND providing aviation coordination and support to Law Enforcement operations across North Central United States.

    How many years of service?

    I have just over 6 years of service. I joined the North Dakota Army National Guard in 2015 after graduating from NDSU. I have 2 years of service as an Enlisted Soldier with the Engineers as a 12W Carpenter; 4 years of Aviation service as a Commissioned Officer.

    What inspired you to join the Military?

    Family tradition of Military service was my initial inspiration for joining the Military and I wanted to be an Aviation Officer in either the Air Force or Army. Most of my family members who have served were enlisted and I wanted to be the first person to be an Officer. When I was younger, I always loved helping my Dad with his Army uniform and going with him to the Armory to see all of the cool Army equipment. So I decided to pursue the Military when I was in college and enlisted after graduating college.

    What is the most rewarding part of your job/time in the military?

    The most rewarding part of my job is working with helicopters on a weekly basis and flying missions in support of law enforcement and responding to state emergencies.

    Are you involved in the North Dakota aviation community outside of the military?

    Yes, I am involved in ND Aviation community outside of the Military. I recently joined the Fargo Jet Center flying club and am working on my airplane private pilot license with a goal to build further flight experience outside of the Military.

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

    Military Aviation is very rewarding and exciting! However, it requires more of a time commitment than other jobs in the Military due to maintaining flight proficiency on an almost weekly basis. Recruiters are the gate keepers to all Military jobs; they have resources and the availability to provide information to individuals interested in ND Aviation. The North Dakota National Guard website is also a fantastic resource for someone to begin their research.

    Hamilton next to a UH-72A Lakota, Fargo, ND. December 2021


    Hamilton by to a UH-60M Blackhawk, Ft. Rucker, AL. October 2018

    (www.ndguard.nd.gov). 

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