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  • January 04, 2024 13:43 | Anonymous

    Thank you for demonstrating a commitment to the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) community. Your application will be considered active for the next 12 months and used by the Board to fulfill any vacancies. All current NDAA members are eligible to apply. 

    Serving on this volunteer Board is a unique way to strengthen the North Dakota aviation community and expand your professional experience. The Board composition is designed to be diverse group of aviation professionals all with a common interest shared by the vision of NDAA in serving and growing aviation across North Dakota and beyond.

    Board responsibilities include:

    • Participating in committees planning events (ex: FLY-ND Conference, Summerfest and Career Expo, ND Aviation Quarterly, NDAA Membership Committee, Nominating Committee, and other professional programs)
    • Representing member interests with government and community groups
    • Work with Executive Director to achieve NDAA Goals
    • Participation in Board meetings as scheduled – Generally 6-8 times per year (in-person and virtual options)
    • Provide assistance to the Executive Committee and Executive Director as needed
    • At-large board member terms are two years following the NDAA fiscal year calendar starting on July 1st

    The time commitment varies with roles and interests. Plan on 2-4 hours a week. Everyone recognizes our individual business responsibilities continue to take priority. We encourage you to visit with any Board member to gain additional insight.


    Must be a NDAA member


  • November 06, 2023 13:49 | Anonymous

    By Tanner Overland 

    The mornings are getting cooler and the days shorter, how can it be fall already? This action-packed summer certainly flew by, with happenings and events nearly every weekend, like Fly-ND Summerfest, fly-ins, air shows, and of course Oshkosh AirVenture!

    AirVenture 2023 was my third EAA AirVenture I’ve attended at the splendid Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI. Having never attended “Oshkosh” until 2021, I’m making up for lost time by going every year since then and I plan on making it my annual summer pilgrimage.

    This year’s AirVenture was terrific, made even better with the unique opportunity to take in one of the daytime airshows from the air traffic control tower at Oshkosh; the busiest airport in the world (well, at least for one week in July.) What an awesome experience! While people joke “it must just be chaos up there with all those aircraft”, I was somewhat surprised and relieved to learn just the opposite after speaking with the air traffic controllers. As one of the air traffic controllers explained to me, “It’s a well-choreographed dance each year, with only the best-of-the-best air traffic controllers being invited to make up the team of about 80 Oshkosh air traffic controllers during the show.” The controllers tasked with keeping the operations at AirVenture safe and efficient come from near and far throughout the country. They each work a couple of hours before taking a break to keep them fresh, and they rotate from the control tower out to the arrival reporting points of Fisk and Ripon. It was certainly all smiles up in the tower.

    This year was also my first-year tent camping on the airport grounds in Camp Scholler, named after early EAA supporters Ray and Bernice Scholler. While tent camping makes one yearn for a comfy bed and ice-cold air conditioning to offer a brief reprieve from the sizzling Wisconsin summer sun, it provides a greater, more-authentic experience and a sincere appreciation of AirVenture and the camaraderie it provides. 

    While certainly a bit overwhelming in the daytime by the record-breaking crowd of 677,000 fellow aviation enthusiasts, things calm down at night and it’s easy to stroll amongst the aircraft and connect with those around you. One night, after a drenching line of thunderstorms rolled through, we met Stephan, one of our tent neighbors in Camp Scholler. Over a headlamp-lit-dinner consisting of a box of Cheez-Its and an M.R.E. pouch of dehydrated pad thai, Stephan enthusiastically described his travels from his home in Frankfurt, Germany to Oshkosh, WI. He wanted to make the trip for years, but just couldn’t make it work - until this year! This was his first time at AirVenture, and the experience was so much more than anything he ever imagined.  And it was; the nighttime air show, the rows and rows of every aircraft imaginable packed into every square foot of available grass, the Yellow Ribbon Honor Flight’s salute to veterans, and the way the Pratt & Whitney radial engines reverberate deep inside your lungs when Team Aeroshell’s five AT-6 Texans fly over you in a tight formation at dusk.

    EAA AirVenture is more than just an airshow, it’s an experience. An experience that provides a sincere appreciation of all-things aviation and a connection amongst everyone in our industry, whether it be a general aviation pilot from Williston, ND, or an aviation enthusiast from Frankfurt, Germany.

    If you’ve put EAA AirVenture on your to-do list but just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet, put it on the top of your to-do list for next year; hopefully I’ll see you in Oshkosh at AirVenture 2024!

  • November 06, 2023 13:38 | Anonymous

    I am excited to write about the Fourth Annual Fly-ND Career Expo, which was held in Minot, ND, on October 5, 2023. For me, it is exciting and energizing to see students not only excited about the industry but also about the career opportunities. This year, the North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA) was able to award $15,500 in scholarships and expose students to a variety of career fields, through presentations and exhibitors. A huge thank you to all who made this a great day for these students! 

    We had some exciting presentations from industry representatives from aerial application, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), meteorology, business aviation, airlines, and the military. We also had a student panel discussing post-secondary opportunities and answering questions about their experience transitioning from high school to post secondary, as well as plans for future careers. These speakers provided excellent presentations and students had great questions for them. 

    It would be impossible to fit a cross-section of the industry on stage to discuss their stories and we had a great group of exhibitors share their experiences with these students. With representation from both flying and non-flying careers, as well as UAS, I heard students telling their teacher, “I found what I want to do!” on multiple occasions. 

    It is tough to contain the excitement I have for these students in a short article and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope the included pictures will provide you with a sense of what the day was like. 

    I do have to make a few special thank yous before I conclude:

    • Thank you to the University of North Dakota for being a sponsor for the event and providing a dozen students to help with a variety of logistical tasks throughout the day. 
    • Thank you to the Minot Aero Center for assistance with planning and coordination and most importantly, for keeping the students well-fed. 
    • Thank you to the Dakota Territory Air Museum for being a wonderful host and finding a way to work the event, even when the weather didn’t cooperate. 
    • Thank you to all of the speakers, exhibitors, and sponsors who made the event possible. Know that you are appreciated and you really made the day possible for these students. 

    Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator 

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • November 06, 2023 13:34 | Anonymous

    Benjamin Franklin’s timeless quote, “Those who fail to plan... are planning to fail,” rings true in both our daily and professional lives. True success rarely occurs by chance; it demands a concerted effort to identify challenges, explore potential solutions, and ultimately chart a course with confidence towards our desired destination.

    Within the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, one of our key responsibilities lies in shaping the vision and strategy for our state’s aviation system. Presently, we are gearing up for a significant undertaking by updating multiple statewide aviation system plans. These strategic initiatives will play a pivotal role in helping our state identify, prioritize, and justify projects and initiatives that are crucial to the enhancement and maintenance of our aviation infrastructure over the next decade.

    In 2024, we intend to begin work to provide an update to the Statewide Pavement Condition Index Study, which is a task that our office coordinates routinely every three years.  There currently exists approximately 60 million square feet of pavement at our airports which also represents multi-billion dollars of past investments. Our pavement management system reveals the condition of each pavement section at the public-use airports throughout the state, along with deterioration details, photos, and projected future conditions.  A recommended funding plan is also provided to each airport, to ensure the pavements are maintained in the most cost beneficial way. The pavement inspections will occur on our airports in 2024 and the results are expected to be available by spring of 2025.

    Also beginning in 2024, we are planning to initiate an update of both the Economic Impact of Aviation in North Dakota and the North Dakota State Aviation System Plan.

    The State Aviation System Plan will evaluate the foundational principles of the previous 2014 study. It will refresh airport inventory data, redefine performance benchmarks, outline development requisites based upon our airport classifications, update system forecasts, and provide recommendations to guide our aviation system for the future.

    The Economic Impact of Aviation Study will offer an updated perspective of the economic value of our airports and aviation industry.  It will build upon the economic snapshot last captured in 2015 and will provide a detailed analysis of the substantial economic contributions that our airports make to our state and local communities. The 2015 study revealed that our 89 public-use airports contributed a staggering $1.6 billion annually to our state’s economy, and we anticipate that those figures will prove to have experienced substantial growth over the past decade.

    The final results of both of these studies are planned to be released in the Spring of 2026. Throughout this process, we are also committed to facilitating opportunities for the aviation community and the public to review draft materials and provide comments through an advisory committee and a project website that is planned to be established.

    Overall, aviation system planning has the ability to carry profound value for a state.  It provides us with data-backed information that can help us to make informed decisions on where to appropriately invest our time and our resources. This in turn, can result in safer facilities, heightened operational efficiency, and an accelerated pace of economic growth. The benefits of good planning also extends far outside of the aviation sector, as a strong and robust aviation system positively impacts many of our other industries which contribute to the overall development and economic diversification of the state.

    Through our due diligence and ongoing efforts to map out a plan for success, we can confidently work together to steer North Dakota’s aviation community in a positive direction.


    Kyle Wanner, Director

    North Dakota Aeronautics Commission

    701-328-9650 |

  • November 06, 2023 13:29 | Anonymous

    As my family and I rode our bicycles up the hill from the ferry docks on Mackinac Island, MI, my daughter exclaimed her disappointment in our ride up this giant hill. Once we arrived at the Mackinac Island airport, my daughter, out of breath, told me, “Dad, if we’ve seen one airport, we’ve seen them all!” We hadn’t flown into Mackinac Island but arrived by the ferry from Mackinaw City, and I wanted to see the airport. 

    After she calmed down and apologized for being upset about the ride up the giant hill and her comment, it really had me thinking. She was absolutely right; if you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seen them all, and how great is that?! 

    I do have a habit of dragging my kids to the airport of nearly every city we are in, just to check it out. I think for me, it’s the familiarity that comes with it. 

    We know that at all of these airports, we’re going to find a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) lobby with a pot of coffee on. Inside we’ll find the line guys running around working the airplanes coming in, and good for a fun conversation when they’re not busy.

    In the back, we know we’re going to find the hard-working mechanics with their heads and hands inside a cowl, or under a dashboard or wing. We know they’re always up for a good conversation of the latest issue that may have them stumped as they work through it. 

    We know that outside, we’ll find a variety of 172s, Cherokees, Bonanzas, Mooneys, Cirrus and numerous other airplanes on the ramp. Maybe we’ll find some rarer airplanes as well, and some fun taildraggers or float planes hanging out. We also know with some of these airplanes we’ll find their pilots, eager to share stories of the airplane and adventures they’ve encountered. 

    As we stepped into the FBO at the Mackinac Island airport, I felt this familiarity wash over me, although I had never been here before. I felt like I was right at home, able to sit down, relax and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the going-ons outside. Isn’t this an incredible aspect of our aviation community? No matter where we go, we know that we can find somewhere to feel right at home, because if you’ve seen one airport, you’ve seen them all. 

    Justin Weninger, Chairman

    North Dakota Aviation Association

  • November 06, 2023 13:13 | Anonymous

    By Kris Magstadt 

    On May 10, 2022, my husband, Kevin, and I had the privilege of adopting two of our beautiful grandchildren, Kaiden and Michaela. It was a magical day.

    As our one-year anniversary of the adoption approached, we tried to decide how we would celebrate. Michaela requested a photo at the courthouse and dinner at Olive Garden, just as we had done on adoption day. Neither had ever been in an airplane. Growing up with aviation and my father as a Cessna dealer and Fixed Base Operator (FBO) owner, there was no way I was going to have their first flight in anything but a small plane, and, hopefully, a Cessna.

    I quickly contacted Jon Simmers, a good friend at Bismarck Aero Center (BAC) and proposed the idea. We sat down and planned, and oh what a plan! Red carpet, flight wing pins, cupcakes, and the whole nine yards. He immediately knew which pilot, and was as excited as me. We decided to keep it a surprise for the children.

    Well, May 10 finally arrived. First we took pictures at the courthouse, and then were off to a school track meet. We quickly went home to prepare for dinner, or so the children thought! As we were driving, I asked Kevin to quickly stop at the airport to drop something off for Jon. There was no suspicion, since they were aware of my years as the Quarterly editor and my frequent conversations with them about aviation, my dad, and my aviation friends; I told them I wanted them to meet my friend, Jon. They pleaded that I not talk for long, as they so often state that adults talk too much.

    SURPRISE! We got inside the FBO and there stood Clint, the lead Certified Flight Instructor at BAC! What a smile he had on his face. We walked around the corner and there were balloons, cupcakes (with TONS of frosting) and sweet tea, all arranged by Linda. What was going on? They were asked if they’d ever flown. “No,” they said. Then Clint asked them if they’d like to fly. Yes could not come out of their mouths, as they were wide-eyed and jumping for joy!

    Before we went up into the beautiful blue sky, the entire staff of BAC came for refreshments and spent time telling them what role they played in the organization and about their first flight. The children learned so much. What a special treat to hear what goes on behind the scenes to insure safe flight.

    Then it was time for pre-flight! I have never, in all my years around aviation, seen anyone explain, include, and excite someone about the intricacies of what makes a plane  fly as Clint. He was so easy to understand and included them in every aspect. To this day they talk about flaps, rudders, lift, and drag. Next, it was time for take off! Each took a turn in the pilot seat. Their faces beamed with delight and awe. They were actually flying! Clint let them take the controls (safely), explaining everything in words that made sense to a 10- and 11-year old. He did it all with his brilliant smile and positive, happy attitude. He was just as much a kid as they were! It was obvious that flying is his passion. They flew over our home and their school, and both kids were shocked at how small everything looked. Michaela had nice easy turns, while Kaiden was a little more daring and his turns were a bit steeper. But, best of all, they were flying.

    So many of us take that gift of flight for granted. I know I did, growing up at an airport. I always thought the train or car would be more fun. I now know much better! We forget that rush of adrenaline when you first take-off and float through the sky and clouds, slowly drifting back to the ground.

    Unfortunately, the flight had to end. We were met by Jon, rolling out the blue carpet and helping us out of the plane. The kids made a jump for joy photo with Clint. He took them into the FBO and straight to his office. They were confused, as they thought they were done. No, Clint promptly pinned on flight wings and sat them down. Suddenly, he was writing in a little black book. He presented each of them with their own logbook with their first lesson time already logged! What a wonderful end to a day our entire family will remember and cherish.

    Without Jon, Clint, Linda, and the staff at BAC, this special day wouldn’t have happened. I believe they all shared our excitement, and we will be eternally grateful for their kindness and commitment to sharing the gift of flight with the youth in our community.

    I can’t tell you if Kaiden and Michaela will be lifelong pilots, although my hope is that they will. I can tell you, however, it was another magical day in our lives.

  • September 26, 2023 12:18 | Anonymous

    By Ron Lundquist 

    Content Warning: Mention of Death, PTSD, Trauma

    It’s a subject that is still misunderstood, or at least poorly understood. Soldiers returning from World War I often called it “shell shock.” As time passed, it came to be known as PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But PTSD, as we have come to learn, doesn’t just affect the military. PTSD is a disorder that develops in people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event, sometimes known as a critical incident. While it is quite natural to feel afraid during a traumatic situation, that fear can continue for days, weeks, or even years afterwards.

    I found inspiration for this article in two ways: one after visiting with a coworker, who is an airline pilot, and the other a family member, who also works in aviation.

    First, my coworker. He had been in a serious accident with his personal plane and his friend, who was a passenger, was seriously injured. My coworker blamed himself for quite some time. After all, he was supposed to be a “professional” - he failed (in his words) and his friend was hurt. His friend eventually recovered and never blamed him, but the feeling of guilt did not subside for my coworker. The traumatic memories and feelings associated with that event continue to haunt him, but fortunately he has somewhat reached a point where he can accept that nothing can be changed, despite it still being hard to talk about.

    A family member of mine also had an experience about 30 years ago that certainly could have caused PTSD symptoms. He had been on a “Go Team” - representing airline maintenance for a regional airline crash. As he explains it, he felt that he did not fully develop PTSD as a disorder but continued to experience symptoms akin to this. Sights, sounds, and even smells would trigger memories of working in the aftermath of that tragedy. Eventually, he was able to sit down and write his recollection of the event. This was done as a way to express how he felt during the event and helped him cope through it. Oftentimes in a safe environment, re-processing the event can be helpful, as exposure therapy has become more popular for intense PTSD. Even writing it down as he did, can potentially give a person suffering with symptoms a similar effect.

    Have you had an accident? In an aircraft or something else? Did someone get hurt or did it scare you? Did you bend an airplane? Did you witness or have something happen that haunts you (aviation or non-aviation)?  There can be a variety of events that can cause PTSD. Let’s review a couple definitions.

    Critical Incident:

    The definition can be different to different people but the reactions to critical incidents are quite often similar if not identical. In the aviation world, critical incidents are accidents or incidents that evoke very strong feelings in those involved. It can be the pilots, mechanics, accident investigators or their families connected with an accident who are at high risk for a stress reaction after a critical incident.  

    Stress Reaction:

    Stress reactions are physiological and psychological changes that happen in people that have been exposed to a stressful event. A stress reaction that progresses often turns into PTSD. People who have had a traumatic event often make the mistake of dealing with the aftermath on their own. 

     I’ll use a few examples from my personal life to help explain how PTSD can occur or be triggered. Years ago, I found a friend of mine dead. This obviously classifies as a critical incident that caused a stress reaction, and I was physically sick in my body. A few months later, there was a flood that surrounded my family’s house. For weeks I stayed at my home, not sleeping more than a few hours at a time, worried about the rising flood waters and what they would do. My symptoms were lack of sleep, loss of appetite, stomach pains, muscle aches, feelings of detachment and a general sense of hopelessness. I had taken a 30% pay cut at work and my dad had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) a year prior. My cup was more than overflowing. Adding in my friend’s death to the mix, and this was a perfect storm for PTSD.

    I eventually went to a doctor, who was also a family friend. He knew what was going on in my life and conducted various medical tests. I still remember when he came in and said physically there was nothing wrong with me. He thought I had PTSD. I thought he must be joking, but he insisted that PTSD didn’t just affect those in the military. He urged me to see a counselor, to process it, but I never did. In retrospect, I should have but I thought, “I’m a guy, I’m tough, and I’m a pilot.” Pilots compartmentalize things, handle emergencies. This is what we do. Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding pilot mental health is so prominent.

    Being diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder like PTSD does not mean you are weak - and not being diagnosed does not mean you are strong. Things just are. Things just happen. In fact, you don’t even have to go through an event to experience these symptoms. Maybe your friend or a family member had been through something, and it ended up triggering something in you. Most experts agree that PTSD is not preventable, but what you do in dealing with it is the key. In my story, I continued to go to work and fly, and that helped me. It returned my life to something normal; I was in control again and it let me escape for hours at a time.

    The U.S National Library of Medicine says that PTSD does change several areas of the brain. The hippocampus (that controls emotion, memory, and autonomic nervous system), the amygdala (which processes fearful and threatening stimuli) and the prefrontal cortex (that regulates our thoughts, actions, and emotions) may all be affected by experiencing trauma. We don’t have much of a choice on whether these brain areas are affected. This happens in some people and doesn’t in others.

    After an accident or even an incident, we should be on the lookout for PTSD or at least be aware of related symptoms. If a fatality occurred (and you lived), one might experience survivor’s guilt. This can really trigger some PTSD symptoms that should be dealt with. The longer you put it off, it can manifest into a trauma itself. Often, we can’t see PTSD symptoms starting to develop in ourselves, but we may see it develop in others. Possible signs and timing of impending PTSD: This can be a very long list, but here are some that are common and hopefully easy to spot. 

    Death of a spouse, child, sibling, or anyone close. 

    An accident that you may (or may not) have caused, where serious injury or death occurred. 

    Witnessing a death, loss of pregnancy, natural disaster, or being a victim of a violent attack, such an assault or abuse. 

    Symptoms can include flashbacks, night sweats, insomnia, and panic attacks. 

    If you find yourself (or someone else) increasingly isolating from family and friends, this also can be a red flag. 

    Stress Management:

    It is possible to mitigate the effects of stress and your reactions to it. Remember, these are normal, you are normal and having normal reactions to a situation that is not. About 3.5% or roughly 8 million of the U.S. adult population live with PTSD. Of people diagnosed, 37% show serious symptoms. 


    Exercise is important to our overall health but especially within the first one to two days after a stressful or triggering event. Be sure to rest more than you normally do, as well as up your water intake. Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake. Both hinder normal sleep and processing the accident/incident or trauma. Visit with friends and talk to people you trust. This can be the best healing action you can take. If you live by yourself, have someone stay with you for a few days. Try to keep the structure of your normal day. Follow your normal routine with eating, sleeping, and exercising. You may feel physically sore after an event. Psychological stress can bring this on. Do not make big life changes or decisions after a traumatic event. Make little ones to establish a feeling of control over your life. Seeing a counselor or therapist may also be helpful in processing emotions, as there are specified therapies for PTSD that will help reduce symptoms and allow you to get back to living.

    I’ve obviously only scratched the surface of this subject. There are so many things that cause PTSD and so many things we can do to deal with it. I’ve witnessed first-hand people struggling and experienced it myself. If I could pass along any advice at all, I’d say be aware after a big event (whatever you define that as) and just as important, watch your friends and family after they’ve been through something traumatic. There’s a lot of information that can help us help each other. Try and educate yourself on the warning signs. The person you may end up helping is yourself.

  • September 26, 2023 11:57 | Anonymous

    Air Race Classic sees UND’s team and the University itself climb high

    Sadie Blace, the copilot on UND’s Frozen Force Air Race Classic team, remembers visiting UND before deciding where she would attend college.

    “My tour guide had been on UND’s ARC race team,” said the sophomore from Mankato, Minn. “She told me if I came here, I should interview and apply to be on the team. That’s what I did, and here I am. It’s super cool how everything has come full circle.”

    For the first time in its 46-year history, the famed all-women air race started at the Grand Forks International Airport. It was hosted by the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. UND’s Frozen Force team was one of 42 aircraft that took off the morning of Tuesday, June 20, and landed at the Homestead, Fla., airport on the afternoon of Friday, June 23.

    “The most important takeaway from our race this year is that the team successfully and safely completed the 2,333-nautical-mile trek in the four days allotted while inspiring pilots and soon-to-be pilots,” said Beth Bjerke, aviation professor and associate dean, who co-chaired the race start event with Liz Mislan, a UND aviation graduate and former ARC racer.

    Other members of UND’s team were pilot Grace Heron, a senior from Tampa, Fla.; navigator Tracy Mitchell, a sophomore from Billings, Mont.; and ground coordinator Ashley Almquist, a freshman from Bay Village, Ohio. The team was coached by Antonia Wagener, assistant chief flight instructor.

    Encouraging words

    Blace said all members of the team are very competitive, but they also enjoyed being on a team, working toward completing the same mission. But an important secondary mission was the outreach to encourage girls and young women to get involved in the aviation field.

    “A few years ago, the number of females in UND’s aviation program were around 9% and now it’s pushing 25%,” she said. “A lot more women are getting interested in the field.”

    Wagener praised the team for the way in which it represented UND while flying a safe, clean and complete race

    “They exhibited grace and resilience in overcoming many obstacles, mainly the weather,” she explained. “They encountered headwinds, fog, low ceilings, extreme heat and thunderstorms. That’s tough stuff for a race that needs to be conducted in visual conditions during daylight hours only.”

    In addition, Bjerke said UND’s team was instrumental in being one of the first teams to compete in the ARC’s new Electronic Data Monitoring Aircraft (EDMA) division.

    This new division is truly historic, and will help safely bring the Air Race Classic into the future by using aircraft flight data to track results and aircraft engine performance,” she noted. “This will give racers the ability to fly a much safer and cleaner race in the future. The ARC board kept this new division small this year with just five teams competing, but expects it to grow steadily in the future.”

    Paving the way

    Participating in the race and being involved in the development of the EDMA division provides valuable experience to young aviators, according to Wagener.

    “As an aviator, it is important to say ‘yes’ to any opportunity presented and to have new experiences,” she explained. “It could be flying a different airplane, flying into challenging weather, navigating mountainous terrain, flying into complicated or unfamiliar airspace or testing out personal limits.

    “The Air Race Classic tends to offer many of these opportunities,” Wagener continued. “It’s an experience that is sure to be a highlight of an aviatrix’s career, no matter what they accomplish in the future.”

    As an opportunity for personal and professional development, Wagener said that each year, she sees UND’s team members show growth, newfound confidence and increased maturity after completing the four-day race.

    “In fact, Sunday night at the terminus banquet in Florida, we were reminiscing about who these four women were as pilots when they took off on June 20 versus who they are as pilots that day,” she said. ”It’s definitely a noteworthy experience and something each teammate should be proud to have on their resume.”

    Welcome to North Dakota

    Another of Bjerke’s goals in hosting the race start was to have the approximately 100 race-team members from around the country receive a positive North Dakota, Grand Forks and UND experience. Based on the comments of those who took part in the events leading up to the start, it was a rousing success.

    “Everyone’s been so welcoming, and it’s really cool to see how proud you all are of your downtown,” said April Heppner, a pilot from one of Auburn University’s three ARC teams. “We got a very impressive tour of UND’s aviation facilities. There’s a lot of very cool things on campus.”

    articipating in her second ARC, said, “I wasn’t expecting everyone to be so nice in North Dakota. Everyone has just been so welcoming and kind.

    “People come up to us and ask us if we need help – probably because we look like we’re lost all the time,” she laughed.

    Auburn copilot Sophie Young said, “I’ve been taking pictures everywhere we go. Every single room we went into (at UND Aerospace), I was pulling out my camera and saying, ‘I’ve got to take a picture of this and bring it back to Auburn.’

    “I looked at all the impressive equipment, all these impressive simulators and all these classes UND students have,” she added. “I’m thinking about all the learning opportunities the students have here, and I want to bring them back to our students.”

    Graci McDaniel, pilot on the Southern Illinois University team in Carbondale, said, “I loved touring the Aerospace school; it was awesome. And I’m definitely taking notes for next year because we’ll be hosting the start of the air race.”

    It’s been amazing

    Linda Evans from Philadelphia, a member of the Keystone Fliers team, said, “It’s been amazing. The volunteers have been awesome. The event has been well organized.:

    “I’m just completely impressed with the University of North Dakota,” she added. “The program here is really unbelievable. I had no idea that it was so extensive with such wide variety of options for students to study.”

    Despite the contrast in ages and experience between the competing teams, Laura Doherty, a pilot from Connecticut with the Star Wings team, said, “Everybody in the room is a female pilot, which is something you don’t get to see very often. After reading the book ‘Fly Girls’ I decided to fly in the ARC.”

    One unlikely team, The Magpies, proved to be a perfect match. Colby Helppie-Schmieder, an 11-year Air Force pilot, wanted to fly the ARC while half-way through her pregnancy.

    “I was very determined to race this year because after having a baby, it’s difficult to make the time,” she explained.

    She and her teammate, Willie Mattocks from Buffalo, N.Y., had only met online before joining up in Grand Forks, days before the race’s start.

    “I knew that Colby was having a little one, but she didn’t know that I was a midwife,” Mattocks said. “It worked out pretty good. We’re in quite a unique situation, really. There have been a few pregnant ladies who’ve done the race, but I think we’re the first team with a midwife.”

    Opening more doors

    On the top end of the ARC experience scale was pilot Marie Carastro, 94, from Montgomery, Ala. She was part of The Flying Carastros team, which included her daughter Susan Carastro and granddaughter Danielle Carastro – all pilots.

    Marie flew in the 1960 Powder Puff Derby, a transcontinental race that was the forerunner to the ARC. Last week, she flew in her 19th ARC with three generations of Carastros.

    Marie became interested in flying around World War II, but found few opportunities open to women in the aviation industry.

    “I tried the airlines, and they said I could be a stewardess,” she remembered.

    Eventually, she found her way in through the Civil Air Patrol, an official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. During her 50-year stint in the CAP, she met her husband, an Air Force instructor pilot, who taught both her children to fly.

    “I have a very warm spot in my heart for the Civil Air Patrol,” Marie noted.

    One of the biggest changes she’s seen during her time in aviation is more opportunities for women.

    “I just think they’re very fortunate that there are many doors open to them that weren’t open at my time,”  Marie concluded.

  • September 26, 2023 11:51 | Anonymous

    North Dakota’s air travel demand during the summer months remains strong, as our residents and visitors take advantage of the state’s air service opportunities. 

    During the first half of calendar year 2023, North Dakota’s eight commercial service airports provided a total of 549,962 passenger boardings. This is a growth of 52,640 passengers, or an 11% increase, when comparing the statewide passenger counts to the first six months of 2022.

    “Positive demand and healthy aircraft load factors have helped to fuel optimism for the airline industry that is operating within our state,” stated Kyle Wanner, Executive Director of the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission. “I encourage both residents and visitors to utilize our North Dakota airports, as increased demand plays a crucial role in expanding flight services and enhancing destination choices for our communities.”

  • September 26, 2023 11:39 | Anonymous

    By Kyle Wanner, NDAC Executive Director

    Recently approved and finalized approximately $20 million in state infrastructure grant allocations to multiple public airports throughout North Dakota. These state grants are critical in maintaining the needed infrastructure to support the aviation industry, which is a major contributor to the state’s overall economy and standard of living. 

    $10 million of the total grant allocation was provided through funding that was made available for the first time through the Airport Infrastructure Fund. This fund was established as a part of the “Operation Prairie Dog” bill that was passed during the 2019 legislative session, in order to assist with the maintenance and development of the 89 public-use airports throughout North Dakota. The other $10 million allocation was made possible from the Commission’s Special Fund, where the primary revenue source is derived from state tax collections on aviation fuel and aircraft sales. 

    These state grant allocations also match and leverage federal grant dollars through the Airport Infrastructure Program (AIP), Bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL), and Airport Terminal Program (ATP.) It is estimated that throughout the 2023 construction cycle, North Dakota airport projects will receive approximately $65 million dollars through those different federal funding sources, which all require matching participation.

    Provided on this page is a listing of each of the public airports that received a state grant allocation, along with a description of one of their funded projects. A full listing of all of the airport grants and dollar amounts can also be found in the news section on the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission website. 

    Congratulations to each of the communities on their grant awards! 

    Commercial Airport Grant Awards:

    Bismarck - Construct Snow Removal Equipment Building

    Devils Lake - Reconstruct General Aviation Apron

    Dickinson - Crosswind Runway & Apron Pavement Maintenance

    Fargo - Design for the Commercial Terminal Expansion

    Grand Forks - Reconstruct Runway 9L/27R 

    Jamestown - Runway 13/31 Rehabilitation

    Minot - Purchase Snow Removal Equipment

    Williston - De-Icing Containment Improvements

    General Aviation Grant Awards:

    Ashley - Construct General Aviation Terminal

    Beach - General Aviation Terminal Heating System Improvements

    Beulah - Pavement Maintenance

    Bottineau - Airfield Pavement Seal Coat

    Bowman - Purchase Aircraft Towing Vehicle

    Cando - Airfield Lighting Rehabilitation

    Casselton - Runway Pavement Repairs

    Cavalier - Pavement Maintenance

    Cooperstown - Purchase Mower

    Crosby - Primary Runway and Lighting System Reconstruction

    Drayton - Pavement Maintenance

    Ellendale - Pavement Maintenance

    Enderlin - Replace Public Hangar Roof

    Fessenden - Concrete Floor for Public Hangar

    Fort Yates - Pavement Maintenance

    Garrison - Construct Security Fence

    Glen Ullin - Purchase Snow Removal Equipment

    Grafton - Design Taxilane and Apron Rehabilitation

    Gwinner - Access Road Rehabilitation

    Harvey - Pavement Maintenance

    Hazen - Airport Layout Plan Update 

    Hettinger - Rehabilitate and Extend Taxilane

    Hillsboro - Apron Reconstruction 

    Kenmare - Pavement Maintenance

    Killdeer - Install AWOS III P/T

    Kindred - Design Taxilane and Access Road

    Kulm - Purchase Tractor for Mowing/Snow Removal

    Lakota - Wetland & Cultural Field Study

    LaMoure - Pavement Maintenance

    Leeds - Runway & Taxiway Rehabilitation

    Linton - Pavement Maintenance

    Mandan - Construct Parking Lot & Access Road

    Mayville - Pavement Maintenance 

    Mohall - Construct Security Gates

    Mott - Construct General Aviation Terminal

    Napoleon - Construct General Aviation Terminal

    New Town - Design Runway 12 Extension

    Northwood - Construct Apron Expansion

    Park River - Airfield Lighting Replacement

    Parshall - Install Security Gate

    Pembina - Airfield Pavement Seal Coat

    Rolla - Pavement Maintenance

    Rugby - Construct General Aviation Terminal

    Stanley - Airport Layout Plan Update

    Tioga - Install Taxiway Lights

    Turtle Lake - Construct General Aviation Terminal

    Valley City - Purchase Snow Removal Equipment

    Wahpeton - Install Security Fencing

    Washburn - Design Taxiway Extension

    Watford City - Design Snow Removal Building

    West Fargo - Beacon Replacement

    Westhope - Runway & Taxiway Rehabilitation

    Wishek - Pavement Maintenance

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