Now that the Symposium, our largest annual event, is over and the clean-up is done it’s time to reflect back on what was learned. The next few posts will give a very basic review of the different speakers and some of the key points they had to share. This review is important for two reasons. First, it will remind those of us who were there about what we learned and should be incorporating into our flying. Second, it is to give those who didn’t attend a taste of what the annual Symposium has to offer and hopefully entice them to attend next year’s Symposium in Bismarck.
Day two of the Symposium began with a topic that is very important to many people in our state, UAV’s. A panel of speakers including UND and industry representatives gave an update on the current status of UAV’s in the state and some information about future developments. UND currently has 7 small UAV’s that they fly in designated areas around Grand Forks. Customs and Border Patrol is also flying a UAV. They use a TFR over the Grand Forks Air Force Base to climb above FL180 where they are controlled by ATC like all other aircraft. The Air Force itself is beginning to receive UAV’s at the base but they are not currently flying any in state.
A large part of the discussion was focused on the fact that North Dakota is on the forefront of this new technology and it is imperative that we do it correctly here. This is especially true when it comes to the issue of airspace. NDPA has advocated that the developers and users of UAV’s must find a way to integrate them into the airspace system without restricting airspace. It appeared our speakers agree. John Walker, retired FAA, specifically said, “I do not believe in restricted airspace.” Development and testing of sense and avoid technology is underway but in the meantime there may be an alternative. The Limited Deployment – Cooperative Airspace Project (LD-CAP).
LD-CAP is a project being pushed by UND that will give UAV’s an area to fly while protecting traditional aircraft. Most importantly it does not require any restricted airspace. The project would create a triangle of airspace in North Dakota that is completely covered by a radar system that monitors everything in the airspace. UAV pilots would be able to see other traffic on radar displays and maneuver to avoid a conflict. Pilots flying through the area would not have any additional equipment or communication requirements. As developments with UAV’s move forward, NDPA will continue to advocate on behalf of pilots in our state and work to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone.
Public Benefit Flying
Kelby Hovey gave a talk about ways pilots can give back using their love of flying. Volunteering our talents is a great way to share aviation with others, as well as a good reason to pull the airplane out of the hangar. How to get involved depends on the individual pilot’s desires, passions and abilities. One place to start would be the Air Care Alliance. The Alliance is a national listing of organizations that rely on volunteer pilots. Another option discussed was Angel Flight which provides flights in times of personal and community crisis. One local organization discussed was the Civil Air Patrol which does search and rescue as well as other missions in North Dakota. Whatever part of aviation you love there is an organization that could use your talents and abilities. Get involved and start giving back!
In the next post we will discuss emergencies. Two pilots shared their stories of when things went wrong so that we can learn from them and hopefully be prepared. In one, a pilot experienced a medical emergency and in the other an emergency landing did not go as planned. Stay tuned!