March is a little different than usual in Wahpeton.
For most communities, the month comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. In Wahpeton, March comes in like a lion, out like a lamb and on the wings of a steel bird.
Mayor Steve Dale proclaimed “General Aviation Appreciation Month” during a Monday, March 4 meeting of the Wahpeton City Council. The city has a significant interest in the continued vitality of aviation, a proclamation stated.
“(This includes) general aviation, aircraft manufacturing, aviation educational institutions, aviation organizations and community airports,” said 4th Ward Councilman Don Bajumpaa, who read the proclamation.
General aviation, as well as the Harry Stern Airport, were singled out in the proclamation as having an immense economic impact on the city of Wahpeton. Aviation’s contributions to North Dakota’s economy were also singled out.
“North Dakota is home to 89 public-use airports, which serve approximately 3,600 pilots and about 2,000 registered aircraft,” Bajumpaa continued.
According to the proclamation, the state includes 53 fixed-base operators, 12 repair stations, 17 heliports, one Federal Aviation Administration-approved pilot school, 856 student pilots and 496 flight instructors.
“General aviation airports in North Dakota support more than $121 million in total economic output,” Bajumpaa said.
The industry was also praised for improving overall quality of life by supporting emergency medical and healthcare services, law enforcement, firefighting and disaster relief. There is also the convenience factor of quickly and safely transporting business travelers to their destinations.
“The nation’s aviation infrastructure represents an important public benefit,” Bajumpaa added. “Congressional oversight should be in place of this system to ensure that it remains a public system and serves communities of all sizes.”