Minnesota Airports Conference To Be Held In Willmar

Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2019 issue

WILLMAR, MINN. – The Minnesota Airports Conference will take place April 24-26, 2019 at the Willmar Conference Center, Willmar, Minn. The annual conference features experts in aviation and aerospace who share their experiences in general assembly presentations, workshops, and open forums. The conference, held in conjunction with the Minnesota Council of Airports (MCOA) annual meeting, also includes technical and safety presentations, an industry trade show, and an awards and recognition program.

The conference aims to deliver the most up-to-date and advanced information for Minnesota aviation professionals, and provides an opportunity for industry and government officials to exchange ideas on funding, trends, airport management, operations, maintenance, and best practices. The conference is open to anyone interested in aviation.

Once again, this year’s conference will feature a notable aviation-related keynote speaker: Minnesota Vikings football player, Harrison Smith. Throughout his college career at Notre Dame and into his early years in Minnesota, the star Vikings safety felt a gripping anxiety whenever he flew on official team charters. Smith decided there was no better way to get over his fear than to learn how to fly an airplane himself, so he started ground school at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie, Minn. After 65 hours in the air, he passed his private pilot check-ride.

Smith will escort conference attendees to the Fagen Fighters WWII Museum at Granite Falls Municipal/Lenzen-Roe-Fagen Memorial Field in Granite Falls, Minn., the morning of April 24. The museum houses a pristine collection of fully restored and operational World War II aircraft and vehicles, and features fine art, bronze sculptures, and interactive multimedia displays. The museum is a living memorial to a critical time in U.S. history, and a tribute to the men and women of “the Greatest Generation.”

At noon, Smith will help kick off the conference as the keynote speaker at the opening luncheon. Willmar Mayor Marvin Calvin will introduce Smith and welcome attendees.

Among this year’s session topics are sustainable and resilient airport design, snow and ice control plans, and assistance with capital improvement programs and in dealing with airport obstructions. Lindsay Butler of the FAA, and Cassandra Isackson and Kathy Vesely with the MnDOT Office of Aeronautics, will give updates from their respective agencies. In addition, Brian Ryks, executive director of the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), will share his insights on Minnesota’s aviation scene, and discuss activities at MAC, Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport and reliever airports.

Registration is available at airtap.umn.edu/events/airportsconference/2019/.

The conference is hosted by the Minnesota Council of Airports and the Minnesota Department of Transportation and is facilitated by the Airport Technical Assistance Program (AirTAP).

Cost for the full conference is $225 ($255 after April 9). One-day options are also available. Students can attend for free.

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