North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Chairman Robert Miller, left, presents their first-ever Outstanding Service Award to Bill Hamilton in recognition of his 25 years of dedicated service to the general aviation community of North Dakota. Photo courtesy of Amy Taborsky.
Inspiring the next generation of aviators and aviation professionals was the focus of the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium, March 4 through 6 in Bismarck, N.D.
In keeping with the “Educate to Aviate” theme, AOPA staff including Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds and AOPA Representative Bill Hamilton helped spread the word about AOPA’s Pilots and Teachers Handbook (PATH), now being integrated in curricula across the state.
Hamilton was honored by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission, which voted unanimously to create an Outstanding Service Award recognizing Hamilton’s nearly 25 years of service to the state’s pilots.
“I cannot accept this award for myself. I must also accept for my wife, Penny, who has been with me every step of the way,” Hamilton said. “When we saw the North Dakota Aviation Council’s outstanding model of how to organize to support general aviation, we became like Johnny Appleseed, trying to plant the ‘North Dakota seed’ in other states in AOPA’s Central Region.”
Among the distinguished speakers was Sean Davis, president and founder of Aviation Education North Dakota, a statewide nonprofit organization devoted to stimulating aviation awareness and career interest. Davis’ organization offers PATH-based lessons at no cost to schools, including computer-based flight simulation. Aeronautical lessons build understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math—a focus of educators and political leaders from the White House to classrooms around the country.
The event also brought AOPA staff and members together with representatives of the eight organizations that comprise the North Dakota Aviation Council, strengthening lines of communication and cooperation.
“North Dakota remains at the forefront of general aviation’s future,” Budds said. “From technological advances in avionics and aircraft, to the cultivation of the next generation’s pilots, it’s all happening in North Dakota.”
Budds also met with Airport Support Network volunteers to talk about issues impacting local airports.