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AERONAUTICS COMMISSION                    
[Authorized:  NDCC Chapter 2-05]
                               
The Air Commerce Act of 1926 provided for federal rules regarding aircraft, airmen, navigational facilities, and the establishment of air traffic regulations. Three years later during the North Dakota Legislative Session, the Board of Railroad Commissioners was authorized to license aircraft, airmen, and non-government owned aircraft and to regulate air traffic rules. Aviation terms were defined during the Session.  An aircraft meant “any contrivance now known or invented, used, or designed for navigation of, or flight in, the air”.  The term airman meant “any individual including a person in command or any pilot, mechanic, or member of the crew who engaged in the navigation of an aircraft while underway, anyone charged with inspection, overhauling or repairing of aircraft”.  Legislation spelled out the requirements of licensing for both airmen and aircraft (S. L. 1929, Ch. 85). 

By 1931 the Legislature encouraged government bodies such as cities, towns, villages, and townships to acquire land and maintain airports or landing fields so airports could be constructed across the state. Government bodies were to provide air rights for approaches, adopt regulations, and to establish fees and tolls.  They could acquire private property in order to expand the airport space and to manage the maintenance of any buildings, equipment, or property (S. L. 1931, Ch. 92).

By 1945 the State Legislature created a Division of Aeronautics within the Public Service Commission (formerly the Board of Railroad Commissioners) to promote and develop aviation, air commerce, a state system of airways and airports, and to represent the state in aeronautical matters before federal and state agencies. The committee assisted in the enforcement of state laws relating to aeronautics.  A Director of Aeronautics was hired and the Governor chose the members of the committee.  They were asked to serve six-year terms (S. L. 1945, Ch. 38).            

In 1947, the Aeronautics Commission was created (S. L. 1947, Ch.1).  Governing the policies and direction of the commission was a five-member board appointed by the Governor for five-year terms of office.  This included one member from the Public Service Commission. Initially the appointed members had to be residents from one of the four sections from across the state: northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest.  The Director (who also served as executive officer) was appointed by the Commission. The Commission’s original duties were to encourage the establishment of airports and air navigation facilities and to cooperate with and assist the federal government, municipalities, and individuals in the development and coordination of aeronautical activities, including federal aid to airports.  The Commission was to represent the state in aeronautical matters before state and federal agencies and in court actions in controversies affecting the aeronautical interests of the state. They were to have jurisdiction over state airways systems in matters of safety.  The Commission was responsible to register all airmen, aircraft mechanics, and aircraft in the state.  In later years the Aeronautics Commission was also charged with licensing all aerial crop spraying operations.  It licensed and regulated all persons engaged in weather modification or cloud seeding, provided state aid airport matching funds to such airport improvement projects as approved and in such amounts as determined by the Commission. The Commission assisted cities and counties in the creation of municipal, county-wide, and regional airport authorities. They took an active part as intervener in airline proceedings which affected scheduled airline service in the state, and allocated state-aid airport grants to public airports and airport authorities for airport construction. Where no public agencies were available the Commission owned and operated the airports and supported the International Peace Garden and Border Airport near Noonan, North Dakota.  The Commission was to provide a twenty year long range statewide airport system plan for major and secondary airport improvements.

In 1983 the Commission was authorized to register and charge service fees for aircraft operated by state agencies, political subdivisions, and the Civil Air Patrol (S. L. 1983, Ch. 84).  They registered helicopters and ultra-light vehicles (S. L. 1983, Ch. 83) and in 1987 three new sections were added to the Century Code [NDCC 2-05] concerning the charges for registration fees and an amendment defining classic and antique aircraft (S. L. 1987, Ch. 77).   
 
Legislation in 1991 established a special aeronautics fund to be used for statewide airport construction or improvement projects as approved by the Aeronautics Commission. Moneys for this fund came from registration fees and renewal fees.  Registration dues were to be paid every four years (S. L. 1991, Ch. 57).  In 1995 the Legislature directed the Commission to establish guidelines for state assistance to airports and changed the legislative disbursement formula of past sessions (S. L. 1995, Ch. 60).  Legislation in 1999 allowed for changes in the duties of registration concerning all who piloted aircraft or maintained or certified the airworthiness of aircraft or helicopters (S. L. 1999, Ch. 52).
               
When the Civil Air Patrol [NDCC 55-54] became a private, non-profit corporation chartered under federal law (S. L. 1991, Ch. 613), the Aeronautics Commission aided in administering grant funds appropriated by the Legislative Assembly for the North Dakota wing of the Civil Air Patrol.  Additionally, the Commission became responsible for the collection aircraft excise taxes for the tax department, and the Aeronautics Commission Director became an agent of the Tax Commissioner in order to enforce the Century Code [NDCC 57-40.5].  The Aeronautics Commission planning section coordinated with the Department of Transportation office of planning on the developments of surface access at airports across the state [NDCC 24-02-01.3].

In 2007 the Commission celebrated 60 years of aviation service to the citizens of North Dakota. It has supported the aeronautical safety activities of public airports, aircraft, and aviation resources and carried out its responsibility in registering aircraft and pilots, licensing aerial applicators, providing state assistance to airports, and maintaining airport facilities at recreational sites and border crossings.  The Commission has cooperated with all federal, state, and local agencies for furtherance of aviation in North Dakota by promoting competitive air service to and within North Dakota, provided essential operations for a weather reporting system and landing systems, and informed the aviation pilot community of plans and safety information.  The Commission has communicated with state and federal entities on the required statewide needs and services, and sponsored legislation to provide grants for airport improvements, planning studies, and aviation educational programs.   The Commission has also coordinated partnerships with aviation interests within the state through the North Dakota Aviation Council.  

Eight North Dakota communities have scheduled airline service.  They include Bismarck, Dickinson, Devils Lake, Fargo, Grand Forks, Jamestown, Minot, and Williston. 

CHRONOLOGY

1926       The US Congress passed the Air Commerce Act.

1929       The North Dakota State Legislature authorized the Board of Railroad Commissioners to issue licenses to airmen and for aircraft and non-government owned aircraft licenses and to regulate air traffic rules (S. L. 1929, Ch. 85).

1931       The Legislature encouraged government bodies such as cities, towns, villages, and townships to acquire land and maintain airports or landing fields so airports could be constructed across the state (S. L. 1931, Ch. 92). 

1945       The State Legislature created a Division of Aeronautics within the Public Service Commission (formerly the Board of Railroad Commissioners) to promote and develop aeronautics, air commerce, and a state system of airways and airports, and to represent the state in aeronautical matters before state and federal agencies. A Director of Aeronautics was hired.  The Governor chose the members of the committee and they served six-year terms (S. L. 1945, Ch. 38).

1947       The Aeronautics Commission was created (S. L. 1947, Ch.1). 

1969       The Legislature expanded the authority of the Commission and changed the Century Code [NDCC 2-06-01.1] concerning airports within the state (S. L. 1969, Ch. 81).

1975       State Legislature created the Weather Modification Board which became a division within the Aeronautics Commission (S. L. 1975, Ch. 50).

1981       The Weather Modification Board became a quasi-independent division under the direction and supervision of the state water conservation commission (S.L. 1981, Ch. 631).

1983       The Aeronautics Commission registered helicopters and ultra-light vehicles and was authorized to register and charge service fees for aircraft operated by state agencies, political subdivisions, and the Civil Air Patrol (S. L. 1983, Ch. 83 & Ch. 84).

1987       Three new sections were added to the Century Code [NDCC 2-05] concerning charges for registration fees and an amendment for classic and antique aircraft.  An antique aircraft was defined (S. L. 1987, Ch. 77).

1991       The Legislature established a special aeronautics fund to be used for airport construction or on statewide aviation improvement projects (S. L. 1991, Ch. 57). The North Dakota department of Civil Air Patrol was repealed [54-45].

1995       The Commission was authorized to establish guidelines for state assistance to airports and change the legislative disbursement formula (S. L. 1995, Ch. 60). 

1999       The responsibility of registration duties concerning all who have piloted aircraft or maintained or certified the airworthiness of aircraft or helicopters no longer fell to the Commission (S. L. 1999, Ch. 52).

2007       The Aeronautics Commission celebrated 60 years of service.      

SERIES

31405 CAB Dockets Files, 1947-1974
Correspondence, maps, exhibits, reports, petitions, briefs, applications, transcripts, and publications concerning Civilian Aeronautics Board management of air service in North Dakota. Contains Civil Aeronautics Board dockets, Department of Transportation dockets, essential air service dockets, wild card dockets, CAB regulation notices and correspondence relating to communications on airline routing, subsidies and regulations. Prior to deregulation, formal hearings by the CAB were required for all changes to air service.  Also included are state responses to dockets. (23ft)

31406 Airports Files, 1942-1985
Correspondence, plans, reports, plans, specifications, operating procedures, petitions, minutes, and memoranda with cities concerning the planning, development, and operations of ND airport authorities. Contains all correspondence with cities regarding airport equipment, city ordinances, grants, Essential Air Service. Includes the history of the airport’s creation; creation of airport authorities; members appointed to the authority and when; inspection records and recommendations made to airports, planning projects - includes construction plans and specifications; operating rules for each airport. (14ft)

31422 Weather Modification Files, 1965-1985
Correspondence, minutes, memoranda, notes, reports, publications, petitions, and subject files concerning weather modification policy and operations. (8ft)

31442 FAA Cooperative Survey of Airports, 1949-1977
Survey forms providing data on facilities and services at North Dakota airports. (1ft)

31443 Aircraft Owner Card Files, 1949-1961
Data on registered aircraft in North Dakota, including N-number card file, aircraft owner card file, aerial application file, airmen card file (deceased), and airmen file (inactive). (1ft)

31444 Air Service Provider Files, 1975-1985
Files on each airline operating in North Dakota including correspondence, schedules, reports, and memoranda. (1ft)

31445 Commissioner's Files, 1945-1983
Correspondence, memoranda, reports, speeches, commission member files, and photographs.  Series relates to administration and professional activities. (5ft)

31446 Budget Files, 1951-1983
Biennial budget requests and agency budgets. (.5ft)

31447 Air Taxi Operators Files, 1977-1981
Correspondence, memoranda, and lists of air taxi operators. (.5ft)

31448 North Dakota Aviation Council Files, 1955-1983
Minutes, correspondence, rosters, memoranda, reports, by-laws, and annual conference files.  Member organizations include the ND Agricultural Aviation Association, ND Professional Aviation Mechanics Association, ND Pilots Association, ND Aviation Association, Airport Association of ND, ND Aviation Operators Association, and the ND Flying Farmers. (1ft)

31449 State Agency Correspondence, 1947-1984
Correspondence with state agencies, reports, and memoranda regarding administrative affairs. (3ft)

31450 News Releases, 1947-1984
Press releases issued by the Aeronautics Commission covering all aviation news. (1ft)

31451 State Intermodal Transportation Team Files, 1979-1986
Minutes, correspondence, memoranda, and plans relating to the development of rail, highway, and air services in North Dakota. (1.5ft)

31452 Aeronautics Commission Minutes, 1967-1985
(1ft)

31453 Jack Daniels CAB Appointment File, 1964
Series consists of correspondence, memoranda, notes, and testimony concerning Daniel's appointment to the Civil Aeronautics Board. (.5ft)

31454 Environmental Impact Statements, 1970-1986
Includes airport master plans and environmental impact statements prepared by the Aeronautics Commission for airports to receive federal grant money. The statement outlines the impact an airport would have on the surrounding environment. (.5ft)

31455 Audit Reports, 1946-1981
Audit reports and correspondence from the State Auditor’s office. (.5ft)

31456 FAA Plans and Correspondence, 1944-1983
Correspondence, memoranda, plans, proposals, reports, regulations, and maps documenting the impact of FAA regulations and the federal aviation program. (4.5ft)

31457 Airline Passenger Files, 1962-1975
Correspondence, schedules, and memoranda relating to commercial air carrier service in North Dakota. (.05ft)

31458 Aerial Crop Spraying Reports, 1945-1983
Data includes number of acres sprayed, number of spraying planes licensed, spraying fatalities; general aviation fatalities. Data is also compared over a 10-year period on any given annual report. (.25ft)

31510 Flying Farmers Files, 1946-1985
Minutes, correspondence, subject files, and convention files relating to the North Dakota Flying Farmers. (2.5ft)

31573 Federal Agency Correspondence, 1984-1986
(15 items)

31574 State Tax Agreements, 1984
(2 items)

31692 Aircraft License Decals, 1984-1986
(1 ft)

SOURCES
North Dakota Aeronautics Commission Website.
North Dakota Secretary of State Blue Book.
North Dakota State Legislature Session Laws.

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