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JRA hopes to offer students aviation classes

 A pair of Jamestown Regional Airport Authority members are planning to meet with University of Jamestown President Bob Badal and Jamestown Public School District Superintendent Rob Lech at 1 p.m. today about starting aviation classes at the Jamestown Regional Airport for high school and college students.

Authority member Matthew Leitner and Chairman Jim Boyd along with a representative from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission will meet with Badal and Lech about getting the aviation program off the ground for summer classes next year.

“Our whole game plan is to determine the level of support that these folks wanted to go forward with,” Boyd said. “So we’re going to map out a go-forward plan and the reason we’re trying to push this right now is because if everybody approves it we can request a grant from aeronautics.”

Boyd said the application window for the grant closes at the end of the month.

Similar programs have been established in Grand Forks, West Fargo, Carrington and Bismarck, where Boyd’s grandson, a high school sophomore with plans to study aviation at the University of North Dakota, is one of about 70 students taking the course.

“He’s kind of like his grandpa; he likes aviation,” Boyd said. “This (program) is great for somebody that age.

Boyd said he was unsure of how much the grant would be for or how much the program would cost.

“We’ve got to figure out just how much to ask for,” he said. “We’re still in the embryo stage.”

Authority member Keith Veil said he has heard the classes have been very popular where they are offered.

“It’s really a bigger deal than you think right now,” Veil said. “Carrington right now has 16 students in the class at the Carrington airport.”

The board is also scheduling a program and open house to celebrate SkyWest Airline’s first flight into the airport on June 20. A program will begin at 11 a.m. and Gov. Jack Dalrymple is scheduled to attend, and Sen. John Hoeven has expressed interest in attending as well. Boyd said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer already had prior commitments.

The first flight is scheduled to arrive from Devils Lake, N.D., at 12:30 p.m. and depart at 1 p.m.

“It was a struggle to get all this (partnership with Skywest) coordinated but it finally started coming together,” Boyd said. “I’ve got a couple big chunks of hair gone over here.”

Sun reporter David Luessen can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at