Planes on the Prairie
Human beings have always been fascinated with flight. History is littered with unsuccessful attempts. It was not until 1903 that the Wright Brothers flew the first successful airplane. It did not take long for people to realize the abilities of airplanes and to perform tricks in the air.
In 1967 came the foundation of the International Council of Airshows. It began when many air professionals came together, motivated by the need to protect their jobs and develop a standard for the airshow industry. They began working with groups like the Federal Aviation Administration to create safety standards. They also began working very closely with the U.S. and Canadian military, developing a tight relationship making it possible to use military bases for air shows and to include military acts like the Blue Angels, Snowbirds, and Thunderbirds. These events became valuable for recruitment into the Air Force.
With the council handling negotiations with these large organizations, that made it possible for the smaller member groups to focus on running and improving their air show businesses. Consequently, air shows spread all over North America in a way that had never been seen before. As technology developed more and more, tens of millions of spectators would flock to see fighter jets and biplanes dance in the air. On this date in 2000, the council brought the fun to North Dakota, holding an air show with the Snowbirds at the Minot Air Force Base.
North Dakota has always been a hotbed for flight, and today that includes the John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot, and the Fargo Air Museum – not to mention all the air bases, airports, and private airstrips. Flying is popular here in part because the steady winds and flat terrain. A few notable North Dakota pilots have been NASA research pilot Bruce Peterson, astronaut James Buchli, and aviation pioneer Carl Ben Eielson, who has schools named after him in Fargo, Neche and Grand Forks.
Dakota Datebook written by Lucid Thomas