Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Good weather, UND flight operations help Grand Forks airport be the busiest in the nation earlier this month

The airport topped all other airports in the U.S. from March 1-3 and on March 8.

A Piper Archer (foreground) used by UND Aviation students and flight instructors is parked on a ramp at Grand Forks International Airport as a Cessna 172S flies overhead Thursday, June 21, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
A Piper Archer (foreground) used by UND Aviation students and flight instructors is parked on a ramp at Grand Forks International Airport as a Cessna 172S flies overhead Thursday, June 21, 2018. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
We are part of The Trust Project.

A combination of good weather, passenger flights and UND flight training traffic helped Grand Forks International Airport beat out the likes of LaGuardia and O’Hare as the nation's busiest airport, if only for a few days, earlier this month.

The airport topped all other airports in the U.S. from March 1-3 and on March 8.

Air traffic numbers take weeks to become official, but the numbers were confirmed Monday.

UND didn’t beat Atlanta or Chicago by the numbers of passengers flown; instead, the statistics are based on the number of instructions to take off or land – referred to as operations – issued by its control tower.

“With the reduced amount of airline traffic, general aviation airports have been moving up the busy list,” Jeremy Roesler, UND’s chief flight instructor, said. “We have appeared in the top 10 in the past, but it’s unusual to see this type of thing happen for consecutive days.

ADVERTISEMENT

During the multi-day streak, the Grand Forks airport’s tower relayed as many as 2,000 instructions to pilots taking off and landing on a given day, according to UND.

Historically, UND’s full schedule of student flights put GFK in the top 25 busiest airports nearly every year. Those numbers slowed last year when the UND flight operations shuttered for a couple of months during the coronavirus pandemic, but students are again taking to the skies in high numbers.

In early March, the skies were blue and the wind was light, creating good flying conditions for the approximately 1,400 students on UND’s flight schedule.

“When we get good weather, we’re busy,” Roesler said. “But we’re only able to achieve those numbers when everyone is doing their part to prioritize safety, respecting rules and procedures.”

Despite precautions in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, UND is on pace to break a longstanding record for hours flown in a year.

“The number of safe and successful flights we’ve been able to accomplish is a great testament to the teamwork and support from our maintenance team, dispatchers, line support, air traffic control and Grand Forks International Airport,” said Robert Kraus, dean of the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. Kraus took over as dean of the school earlier this year.

Ryan Riesinger, executive director of the Grand Forks Regional Airport Authority, said the university’s growing flight school enrollment has been impressive. He also said safety, in conjunction with UND and the crew at the airport, is the top priority.

“It’s one thing to consider the amount of flights, but all of these pilots are training and learning at different levels,” Riesinger said. “To function and accomplish our high amount of operations safely, that simply doesn’t occur without our air traffic controllers.”

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.


For story pitches contact her at smook@gfherald.com or call her at 701-780-1134.
What to read next
After keeping their compensation mostly flat in 2020, Mayo Clinic gave its executives big raises in 2021, with 26 employees earning more than $1 million.
True or false? Christmas cards can kill. Or, how about this one — during the height of the holidays, more people die from heart attacks than any other time of the year. True or false?
Respiratory syncytial virus, which continues spreading in the area, can cause serious breathing difficulties in very young children with tiny airways that can become obstructed.
Gay and bisexual men had once been barred from donating blood due to HIV concerns. After easing the restrictions over time, the FDA may significantly ease the restrictions once again to expand the