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  • August 18, 2020 14:53 | Anonymous

    By Matthew Remynse, A.A.E., AAND President 

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This quote by Charles Dickens truly defines how March 2020 was for airports in North Dakota. At our commercial airports, March had some of the highest days on record for boardings, with the potential to result in another record month on the way to possibly another record year. Unfortunately, after a pandemic was declared, COVID-19 stole the spotlight. A significant, devastating decline in travel followed, leading to some of the lowest days on record for our airports. According to the monthly statistics, the boardings at North Dakota commercial service airports were down 43 percent in March, 94 percent in April, and 86 percent in May. Additionally, our General Aviation (GA) airports began to see a significant loss in operations. 

    The drastic decline in boardings has left terminals hollow and parking lots empty, but the airports in the state looked for and have found a silver lining during this temporary down. With the support of our congressional delegation, the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed, which included funding for airports. As part of the CARES Act, airports that had a federal project were granted 100 percent of the cost versus the normal 90 percent, allowing the local share to be used for other purposes such as operational cost. Additionally, the CARES Act provided eligible airports with a grant that could be used for project or operational costs. Calculated by the FAA, using a congressional formula, the grant distribution amounts varied by airport. The downtime and additional funding has allowed our airports to move forward with parking lot maintenance, crack sealing, airfield markings, resealing terminal flooring, and conducting deep cleaning of the terminals. 

    An unanticipated benefit from the 100 percent grant funding was that it freed up a portion of the 5 percent the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) provides for federal projects. This allowed these funds to be used to jumpstart several projects that were not eligible to receive federal funding. Some of these great projects include a runway extension at Milnor, a fuel system at Washburn, SRE equipment purchases, and obstruction removal at several airports. 

    While there were some unanticipated benefits stemming from COVID-19, airports would like to be back to normal. To do this, airports must instill confidence in the traveler and assure them that it is safe to fly. This concept is not unique to our industry, as this process also happened following Sept. 11, 2001. In today’s world, commercial airports are cleaning well beyond pre-COVID levels, using more effective chemicals, placing social distancing stickers, installing plexi-glass shields, and offering hand sanitizer and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to travellers. At our GA airports, the volunteers are cleaning the pilot lounge often, placing social distancing signage, and offering hand sanitizer. 

    As we move into summer, airports are seeing more traffic and more traveling passengers. All across the state, airports will continue to adapt to meet the needs of passengers, pilots, and friends of aviation. The best of times will return, and the aviation community must work now to be prepared for when that time arrives. Travel will return, traffic will increase in lobbies, lounges, and parking lots. We need to be ready and ensure that we’ve planned the best ways for when the public wants and needs to travel again. In the meantime, there are a lot of projects going on at airfields and still plenty of GA activity, so as always, check the NOTAMS.    

  • August 18, 2020 14:51 | Anonymous

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650  |

    Since the inception of the Passport Program, created in 2010, 72 pilots have flown to all 89 North Dakota airports and submitted their stamp book to receive their prize: a coveted leather jacket. Each time I talk with a pilot who has completed the program, I ask them to share their journey: How long did it take? What kept you going? Where can we improve? To date, not one pilot has told me they regret picking up a book and collecting stamps. The most recent story I have found fascinating was that of Pat Fagan and his friends. It is definitely worth the read, and you can find it on page 10. Pat is one of approximately 15 out-of-state pilots who have collected airport stamps in North Dakota. 

    With a lack of typical activities this spring and summer, quite a few pilots have been using the extra time to work on the Passport Program. Given the recent interest in the program, I want to share some minor changes for pilots to be aware of in the upcoming months. 

    First, we now have an optional registration for the passport program available on our website. Prior to this registration, we have no information about participants until a completed book is turned in for an award. I would like to encourage those of you working on collecting stamps, regardless of how far along you are, to register on our website: By completing this short form, we have more information to assist participants and the ability to communicate with them in the future when needed. Registration is optional but encouraged. 

    Secondly, I am excited to announce that we are working with a national group to allow stamps to be received via check-in through a mobile app. The passport book isn’t going away; this app simply gives us another way to collect stamps. Our plan is to expand this option to other states with Passport Programs for easier stamp collection. 

    And last but not least, we are planning to add a Platinum Level to the Passport Program. This would be available for pilots who have completed the Gold Level and are looking for another challenge. While details are being worked out, we hope to officially roll it out by the end of this year. 

    Please remember:

    Check NOTAMS prior to heading out to collect stamps. With construction season, there may be some temporary runway closures. 

    If you are unable to land at an airport or cannot find the passport stamp, do not hesitate to contact the NDAC office and we will mail you a sticker to use in place of the stamp. A picture at the airport or logbook entry showing you were at that airport is always helpful. 

    As you are flying and notice any areas which are unsafe or could be improved, please reach out to the NDAC staff and we will relay the information to the airport manager. 

    Stay safe and I hope to see many of you on the stage at the Passport Awards presentation in Spring 2021!

  • August 18, 2020 14:50 | Anonymous

    By Kyle Wanner, Executive Director

    The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission (NDAC) recently finalized approximately $9.7 million in infrastructure grant allocations to 141 individual projects at 55 different public-use airports throughout the state.

    Seven million of the allocation is being made as a part of a $20 million-dollar transfer that the state legislature approved in the last legislative session from the Strategic Investment and Improvement Fund (SIIF) to provide assistance with the large-scale projects that are ongoing at both the Watford City Airport and the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport.  

    Another $2.7 million of the allocation was made from the Aeronautics Commission Special Fund where the primary revenue source for these grants is derived from state tax collections on aviation fuel and aircraft sales. These state grants are critical in maintaining the needed infrastructure to support the aviation industry, which is a major contributor to the state’s economy and standard of living.

    These state airport grant allocations will help to leverage and supplement the federal funding being received for high priority airport projects within North Dakota, while at the same time ensuring that our statewide aviation system is being maintained.  These grants will also help to create jobs within our communities and will greatly assist our airports in preparing them to be in a better position to help our economy rebound from the impacts caused by the COVID-19 virus.

    Continue reading for a listing of each of the public airports that received a state grant, along with a description of at least one of their funded projects.  A full listing of the airport grants and dollar amounts can also be found in the news section on the NDAC website.  

    Congratulations to all of the communities on their grant awards!

    Commercial Airport Grant Awards:

    BismarckPavement Marking Rehabilitation

    Devils LakePurchase Snow Removal Equipment

    DickinsonRunway 14/32 NAVAID Equipment

    FargoPavement Marking Rehabilitation

    Grand ForksPavement Maintenance

    JamestownWindsock Rehabilitation

    MinotPavement Maintenance

    WillistonDrainage Improvements

    General Aviation Grant Awards:

    AshleyPurchase Mowing Equipment

    BeachPavement Maintenance

    BeulahPavement Maintenance

    BowmanPurchase Snow Removal Equipment

    CandoGeneral Aviation Terminal Repairs

    CarringtonConstruct Public Hangar

    CasseltonAirfield Lighting Repair

    CavalierPavement Maintenance

    CrosbyRunway Safety Area Grading

    EllendalePavement Maintenance

    EnderlinPavement Maintenance

    GarrisonPavement Maintenance

    GraftonPurchase Mowing Equipment

    GwinnerPurchase Snow Removal Equipment

    HazenPavement Maintenance

    HettingerPurchase Snow Removal Equipment

    KenmarePavement Maintenance

    KilldeerPavement Maintenance

    KindredWatermain & Fire Hydrant Installation

    KulmPurchase Land Roller

    LaMourePavement Maintenance

    LangdonPavement Maintenance

    LarimorePavement Maintenance

    LintonPurchase Mowing Equipment 

    LisbonPavement Maintenance

    MandanReconstruct Taxiways

    MayvillePavement Maintenance

    MilnorPrimary Runway Extension

    MottUpdate Airport Layout Plan

    New RockfordPavement Maintenance 

    New TownPavement Maintenance

    NorthwoodPavement Maintenance

    OakesPavement Maintenance

    Park RiverObstruction Removal

    ParshallPavement Maintenance

    PembinaGeneral Aviation Terminal Repairs

    RollaPavement Maintenance

    RugbyPavement Maintenance

    St. ThomasRunway Safety Area Repairs

    Turtle LakeObstruction Removal

    Valley CityReplace Jet A & 100LL Fuel Systems

    WahpetonReplace AWOS

    WashburnConstruct Security Fence

    Watford CityPrimary Runway and Taxiway Relocation

    WesthopeRPZ Land Acquisition

    WishekPavement Maintenance

  • August 18, 2020 14:48 | Anonymous

    By Adam Dillin, Airport Planner

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission 

    701-328-9650  |

    Notices to Airmen, usually shortened to NOTAMs, are public notifications issued by airports, the FAA, and the U.S. military to inform pilots of safety or operational issues that may affect them while at airports or in flight. This topic has been exhaustively detailed in regulations and flight training publications; however, let’s discuss a comprehensive list of situations that would prompt North Dakota airport operators to ask, “Should I file a NOTAM for this?”

    Closures (CLSD): Perhaps your runway needs to be closed for repainting, the frost heave has left hazardous breaks in a taxiway, or the airfield was buried in a blizzard. In these cases, a prompt closure NOTAM is crucial to keep aircraft from trying to use surfaces that may be unsafe. If a closure is preplanned, NOTAMs can be issued up to seven days in advance. Managers may find the use of Prior Permission Requests (PPRs) helpful, which allow the airfield to close for a length of time (for example, during multi-day snowstorms) but reopen temporarily for pilots who specially coordinate their arrival or departure. 

    Field Conditions (FICON): Many General Aviation (GA) airports print comments in FAA publications instructing pilots to call ahead during winter months to confirm field conditions. Issuing FICON NOTAMs to report the presence of snow, ice, or snowbanks can be valuable to ensure pilots know what to expect on arrival, especially if they have trouble reaching an airport representative.

    Fuel Unavailable: Public fuel may become unavailable due to delayed deliveries or hardware problems. This can put an aircraft in a tough spot if they arrive only to then learn that they can’t refuel.

    Obstructions (OBST): FAR Part 77 defines volumes of airspace around airports that must be kept free of obstacles to protect aircraft. If a crane is deployed near the airfield or a radio tower’s blinking lights burn out, an obstruction NOTAM is likely needed. On a related note, any tall structures proposed to be built within several miles of the airport should be officially evaluated by the FAA prior to construction to prevent impacts to air traffic.

    Lighting Failures (U/S): If the airport’s beacon is jammed, the runway lighting disconnected for repairs, or the Precision Approach Path Indicators have failed, an Unserviceable NOTAM is required.

    Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS): The use of drones has grown rapidly in recent years, with some airports seeing the use of UAS for testing, surveying, and other activities. A UAS NOTAM should be filed alerting pilots of volumes of airspace on or near the airport where drone activity is taking place.

    Wildlife Hazards: It’s common to see surges in wildlife activity around airports during seasonal migrations. The issuance of a NOTAM can help prevent aircraft-wildlife strikes.

    To file NOTAMs for your facility, airport staff can register with the FAA websites of eNOTAM II or NOTAM Manager. These sites can be used to easily draft and electronically submit NOTAMs for distribution. If you’re unsure about a particular issue or prefer to talk with a live operator over the phone, the sites also provide customer service lines to assist you 24/7. NOTAMs are typically distributed to pilots within minutes of being filed by the airport.

    For further details and extensive examples, visit and search for Advisory Circular 150/5200-28F Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) for Airport Operators and Order 7930.2S Notices to Airmen (NOTAM). These documents are updated periodically, so make sure to check for the most recent versions.

  • August 18, 2020 14:39 | Anonymous

    New Scholarship Fund Formed for North Dakota Students Pursuing Aviation Careers through a partnership between the North Dakota Aviation Association and North Dakota Community Foundation.

    The North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) has partnered with the North Dakota Community Foundation (NDCF) to manage a new scholarship fund for students pursuing careers in aviation. The scholarship program is part of a new effort by the NDAA to help grow the next generation of aviators in light of the current and projected workforce shortages over the next 20 years.

    The NDAA is currently conducting a campaign giving donors the opportunity to give to the general scholarship fund or designate their contribution to support a student pursuing a specific career path including professional pilot, aviation maintenance, aviation engineering, unmanned aircraft systems, airport management, and others.

    There are both non-endowed and permanently endowed funds to provide assistance now and in the future. Donors giving $1,050 or more to a non-endowed scholarship have the opportunity to name a $1,000 scholarship. To bolster the first-year scholarships, the NDAA is providing a $250 match to the first 20 people who are willing to donate $800, to create a new $1,000 named scholarship.

    The scholarship application period for 2020 will open Sept. 1 and close Sept. 30. Students can apply online at Scholarships will be presented at the 1st Annual Fly-ND Career Expo hosted at the Fargo Air Museum on Oct. 30.

    The Fly-ND Career Expo is a new event the NDAA created to introduce students to career opportunities throughout the aviation industry. The inaugural event will include inspirational messages from former Blue Angels Commander, Gil Rud, and Delta Air Lines Captain, Karen Ruth. In addition, there will be a static display of aircraft from all aspects of the industry and numerous companies exhibiting at the event to share what their role is in aviation.

    About NDAA: The North Dakota Aviation Association was founded in 1983 by six aviation organizations interested in promoting aviation in the state and presenting their concerns before government and the general public. The organization was founded with the notion that solutions to problems facing aviation can be best served by consolidating and working together rather than struggling as independent groups. The NDAA seeks to serve aviation professionals by providing a forum for the exchange of information, ideas, and experience among their peers-pilots, agricultural operators, airport managers, FBO’s, aviation mechanics, educators, and aviation museums.

  • August 18, 2020 14:35 | Anonymous

    By The Staiger Consulting Group

    The coronavirus pandemic has generated a myriad of effects across the globe in recent months, including the cancellation of many well-loved aviation events. However, with the health and safety of the aviation community as the focus, many new resources have been created and encouraging headlines made. Read on to discover a few of our favorites:

    SiriusXM teamed up with NYU Langone Health to launch a channel dedicated to news regarding the coronavirus pandemic. Channel 121 will broadcast information about the coronavirus 24/7 and is free. Pilots can also listen online.

    Used Aircraft Prices have not seen a measurable decline as the result of COVID-19. Despite being blindsided by the consequences surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation market was already in a unique situation as inventory was limited. Traditionally, when supply is constrained, market pricing will stay roughly the same. That holds true now for used aircraft prices, despite any drop in demand.

    The FAA and CDC recommend that air carriers and crewmembers take precautions to avoid exposure to COVID-19. A full list of these precautions can be found in the SAFO 20003, under COVID-19: Interim Health Guidance for Air Carriers Crews.

    TheCDC has also provided recommendations for aircraft operators to clean and disinfect their aircraft. The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and committee volunteers have summarized this information in an easy-to-use resource that will help you make aircraft cleaning decisions. You can read it here:

    The Civil Air Patrol logged “10,000 volunteer days of support,” the equivalent of more than $2 million of donated services during operations in the first 70 days of response to the coronavirus pandemic, the organization announced. Cadets and volunteer adults delivered personal protective equipment and COVID-19 test kits, prepared meals, staffed emergency operation centers, and more during ongoing relief efforts.

    The FAA has updated its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. You can find the FAQs here:

  • August 18, 2020 14:33 | Anonymous

    By Pat Fagan

    It’s interesting how one’s attitude can change over time. I suppose we shouldn’t fault politicians for flip-flopping, provided their change is sincere. But this isn’t about politics. This is about my change in attitude on what at first seemed to be a silly idea. 

    A couple of years ago, I was involved in a Utah Back Country Pilots work party at Mexican Mountain, UT. After the work was done, we were all sitting in the shade doing what pilots do, telling stories. There was a gal flying a short-wing Piper that had to be the most manic pilot I have ever encountered. She regaled us with tales of all the places she had been with her plane and shared all the places she intended to fly in the upcoming year. She practically lived in that airplane. 

    She told about how she had landed at every airport in several states, and how some of those states actually had programs that rewarded people for doing so. At the time, I felt like she must have some kind of OCD, but I enjoyed the hangar flying nonetheless.

    Fast forward to early this year, I was reading an issue of Sport Aviation and there was an article profiling a gal named Wendy who flies the heck out of a short-wing Piper. As I read, I remembered that hangar flying session and realized the article was about the very same person. In the article she mentioned that one of the states where she landed at every airport was North Dakota. She also said that for doing so she received “the nicest leather jacket I’ve ever bought”. 

    After reading this article, my change of attitude occurred. My wife, Carol, and I moved from crazy California to saner Arizona almost four years ago. In that time, I have been constantly busy developing the property and putting up buildings. It just so happened that my reading the Sport Aviation article coincided with me completing my last building project and feeling the deep-seated need for an adventure. Suddenly, flying to North Dakota and landing at every airport just to get a leather jacket seemed like the sanest thing in the world to do. 

    I mentioned this idea to Carol, who has tolerated many of my past crazy aviation ideas and she had the expected response, “Why not just buy a jacket?” But she humored me and agreed to let me go. Then one day I was flying with fellow Bearhawker Scott Williamson and told him about what I was going to do and he went from “that’s crazy” to “I’d like to go too” faster than I expected. Scott then mentioned it to Kevin Deutscher, another Bearhawk builder, who was suddenly teleworking from home due to COVID-19, and he eagerly agreed to go as well. 

    North Dakota’s program involves filling in a passport book with airport identifier stamps located at all 89 public use airports in the state. You are also required to visit their two aviation museums and take three courses through the FAA’s FAAST/Wings program. We requested and received in the mail our passports and I figured out a course on a North Dakota-only sectional they provided. So we were all set, just needing two things before we could depart. One was for the museums to reopen from Coronavirus, and another was for winter to loosen its grip. The museums finally reopened the second week of May, but there was an endless stream of bad weather blocking our path across South Dakota. 

    We finally had a weather window that allowed us to depart on May 16th. That day, we flew all the way to Custer, SD, where we caught up to the bad weather. The next morning we were up at dawn, looking at beautiful blue skies, excited to get our first stamp. But then we had to wait two hours for the sun to melt the frost off our wings. 

    We camped out in airport pilot lounges almost every night. Some were nothing more than an office and bathroom, while others had freezers, microwaves and showers. The most luxurious one we visited was at Williston, with a sleeping room, recliner sofas, showers, and the works. Unfortunately, Williston is a real airport so we weren’t allowed to overnight there, but the staff was tremendously helpful and helped us bide our time until the rain moved on. 

    The coolest airport we went to had to be Wahpeton. Kevin was taking a nap on the grass at Milnor Airport, as we landed at multiple grass strips, when he noticed a crack forming in the tail post spring perch on Scott’s plane. The FBO operator at Milnor suggested Wahpeton as a place to get it fixed. Boy was he right. In Wahpeton, they build fuselages for P-51 Mustangs. The whole fuselage. They can fabricate every part on a Mustang. 

    Scott uses a massive shock absorber tail wheel and not only did they fix the crack, they reengineered how it attaches to the tail post. While they did that, they gave us free range to explore the machine shop and the boneyard of projects. 

    Everywhere we went in North Dakota, the people we met were so helpful and sincerely happy to see us, especially upon learning that we had come all the way from Arizona just to do this. We got local pilot knowledge about the conditions at certain airports and warnings about conditions at others. Gackle Airport was the most pleasant surprise. We were warned by the gentleman who maintains the airport that he couldn’t vouch for its current condition, as it is surrounded by water and the entrance road was currently under water. He hadn’t been able to get to it to mow it or otherwise check on its condition, but we found it to be in wonderful shape and an absolutely beautiful spot. 

    I had no idea how much fun it would be doing this trip, but it far exceeded all my expectations. The sheer joy of airport hopping, sightseeing, never having to climb above pattern altitude, and all those grass strips made the trip memorable. All the wonderful people we met, so enthusiastic to see us, offering us cars and hangars and whatever else they could provide, made the trip memorable. We even air toured the Enchanted Highway, another special treat. I look forward to proudly wearing my jacket, but the simple passport book with all its stamps is an equally valuable souvenir. 

    Our last airport was Bowman and we took the courtesy car to town for a wonderful breakfast. Were it not for lingering Covid-19 concerns, I believe Scott would have hugged every person in the restaurant, he was so happy. We chose to fly to Mexican Mountain in southern Utah to spend our last night. It didn’t occur to me until late that night that adding that to our trip was the perfect topper; it was there that I first learned about North Dakota’s passport program from Wendy. The next morning we split up to head for our separate homes. Kevin made a statement that brought tears to my eyes: “Thanks for letting me come along and fulfill a dream I never knew I had.”

    About the Author

    Pat Fagan has been flying since he was 16 years old, paying for his flight instruction with money he earned working at Tastee Freeze. Over the years, he gained a wide range of piloting experience, from towing gliders and hauling skydivers to fire bombing. Pat found a career as an air traffic controller and spent 28 years working airplanes at Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center. He built his Bearhawk aircraft from plans, before any kits were started. Completed in 2003, it was the eighth Bearhawk to fly. To honor Pat’s history flying tankers, it was painted like an air tanker and christened “Smokey Bearhawk”.  

  • August 18, 2020 14:28 | Anonymous

    By Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

    I am sure that all of us could give examples of times in life where roadblocks were hit or where things did not go the way we had originally planned. Ironically, looking back on those experiences later in life, many of us find ourselves in appreciation for those times that made us stronger, wiser, and at the very least provided us with a good story to tell. 

    COVID-19 is now one of those roadblocks that has created challenges and sacrifices for all of us, in both our professional and personal lives. Like many of you, I have been trying to do my best to stay optimistic and look at the good things that have come out of this situation. In my personal life, that has meant spending more time with family, teaching my children more about the meaning of gratitude, and completing a variety of different house projects to help stay productive and positive. 

    Something that I have tried to do on a daily basis at the Aeronautics Commission is to locate the many positive things that are still occurring throughout the North Dakota aviation community. Finding silver linings within aviation in today’s environment may currently seem like a difficult task; but I still see and hear encouraging things every day. Most of all, I am impressed with the positive problem-solving attitude that most North Dakotans and industry leaders bring to the table. This is the secret sauce which will strengthen our resilience as we work through this temporary roadblock.

    Our public-use airports throughout North Dakota continue to remain open and flight training, in many instances, has resumed. I have even spoken to multiple pilots that have decided that now is the time for them to dust off their wings and get back into flying. Recently, our office has also seen a growing number of pilots who have shown an interest in starting our Passport Program and work to collect stamps as they tour the state’s 89 public airports. If you are someone who has also been looking for a reason to fly and take on a new adventure or are frustrated with the lack of fly-in events taking place this summer, I highly recommend that you take a look at this program. If you do not have a passport booklet and would like us to send you one, please contact our office.  

    I am also pleased to report that a majority of our airport construction projects this year have seen lower than expected bid prices. The weather has also allowed most of our contractors to progress on projects that were drastically delayed last construction season, due to the record wet season that our state experienced. Many airport operators are also taking advantage of the current slow-down by completing long overdue projects or tasks that are easier to complete during times of lower activity levels. Aircraft cargo and unmanned aircraft systems are also areas that continue to provide new opportunities and growth during this time.  

    Aviation has been an adapting industry for over a hundred years and will continue to do so successfully, no matter what challenge awaits. It is my hope that during this unpredictable time, all of us are able to rise up as needed for our co-workers and our family members so that we can help each other stay positive and productive throughout these times. 

    I also encourage you to plan an adventure, while enjoying the summer weather and the beautiful North Dakota skies, in your pursuit of finding those clouds with silver linings. 


  • August 18, 2020 14:22 | Anonymous

    By Brendan Sneegas, Director of Operations & Development, Angel Flight Central

    Following 25 years of service and over 28,000 free flights for people in need of long-distance travel to medical care and treatment, the COVID-19 outbreak shook the mission of Angel Flight Central (AFC), a non-profit charitable aviation organization serving those in the Midwest, including North Dakota. The ability to safely fly people to and from medical care became too dangerous for pilots, as well as their passengers. Angel Flight Central was quickly forced to suspend passenger flights and re-evaluate its mission. 

    “We realized that the safest way forward in the short-term was to concentrate on cargo flights,” said Don Sumple, AFC’s CEO and Executive Director. Utilizing a partnership with a rural hospital organization, AFC was able to arrange flights carrying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to underserved rural hospitals across several states. However, as in every natural or national crisis, volunteer pilots have a great desire to assist. The PPE flights were not enough to satisfy the willingness of the AFC pilots. 

    It was around this time when Vitalant, one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit community blood service providers, started facing struggles getting blood products to their intended destination. With three donation locations in North Dakota, Vitalant’s ability to transport donated blood and blood products to processing centers was being affected with all the changes in commercial aviation routes. Vitalant’s Community Outreach Ambassador Jennifer Bredahl, reached out to North Dakota Senator Tom Campbell to ask for help. He connected Vitalant with Mike Kempel of Dakota Refrigeration, who offered to use his private plane to help. However, with the continuous transportation needs, the North Dakota Civil Air Patrol recommended connecting with Angel Flight Central.

    Vitalant is internationally recognized for their expertise in blood collection testing, logistics, distribution, special services and research. In other words, Vitalant had a life-saving product supply of plasma needing delivery multiple days of the week to a processing center 570 nautical miles away in St. Louis, while AFC had compassionate volunteer pilots calling to ask to help. A perfect match. 

    Rachel Nelson, Vitalant’s Senior Hospital Services Manager, summarized the experience. “During these uncertain times of COVID-19, our products for our patients were greatly impacted. We had logistical struggles on a daily basis, until we partnered with Angel Flight Central. Their organized diligence to support the needs of the community was impeccable. Because of their support, we were able to get our blood and blood products where they needed to go, so we could continue our life-saving mission. We truly cannot thank them enough!”

    The partnership is now in its fourteenth week. Twenty-seven pilots have flown 37 flight legs a total of 10,500 nautical miles. Over 5,000 miles of trips are planned for the weeks ahead, and if more pilots could join in, additional locations could be added.  

    With new screening and safety protocols, AFC resumed flying passengers to medical care in June, but the passion and inspiration that has evolved from two non-profits combining efforts to change and save lives has only gained momentum, thanks to the great people at Fargo Jet Center.  

    If you are a pilot and wish to learn more about AFC’s minimum requirements, please visit To learn more about Vitalant, visit their website at Both organizations would also greatly appreciate any charitable contribution to continue their work into the future.

  • August 18, 2020 14:12 | Anonymous

    Scholarships Awarded: The North Dakota Business Aviation Association would like to congratulate Ayden Olsen and Jilian Quale on each receiving a $200 scholarship. Ironically, both students are currently attending Wachter Middle School in Bismarck, ND where Ayden is in the 8th grade and Jilian is in the 6th grade. Ayden has expressed an interest in becoming an aerospace engineer specializing in landing gear systems at Boeing, while Jilian is still exploring all military aviation career opportunities. Jilian and Adyen are each raising funds to attend the NASA Space Camp held in Huntsville, Alabama.

    Merger: NDBAA was founded in 1947 with the purpose to promote the interests of those that benefit from the use of aviation in North Dakota. NDBAA accomplishes this through safety, advocacy, and educational initiatives. As of May 2020, NDBAA has merged with the North Dakota Aviation Association.

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