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South Dakota Pilots Association was established in 1993 to promote general aviation in South Dakota.

  • Monitor Aviation Legislation.
  • Sponsor Safety Meetings.
  • Sponsor Becker-Hansen Scholarship.
  • Sponsor ACE Camp Scholarship.
  • Sponsor SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship.
  • Co-sponsor SD Aviation Art Contest.
  • Publish Bimonthly Newsletter.
  • Meetings Across the State.
  • Frequently Asked Questions

A pilots association for South Dakota was promoted in 1992 and early 1993 by Ron Becker, who was a pilot with the South Dakota Office of Aeronautics. He worked with Bobbie Potts and Ron Traver discussing ideas for such a group. With the loss of Ron, pilot Dave Hansen, Governor George S. Mickelson, Angus C. Anson, David S. Birkeland, Roland L. Dolly, Roger A. Hainje, and Ron Reed in the crash of the state’s MU-2 aircraft near Dubuque, Iowa, on April 19, 1993, the task of starting a pilots association became more difficult. Potts, Traver, and several friends and pilots forged ahead to establish the South Dakota Pilots Association in 1994 with the goal of promoting general aviation in South Dakota as envisioned by Ron Becker and others.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is SDPA?

SDPA is a non-profit organization of pilots and aviation enthusiasts who have banded together to promote general aviation interests in South Dakota, and through the newsletter, keep members informed of aviation issues in South Dakota and issues at the regional, national, and international levels that affect general aviation in South Dakota.

Who are the members of SDPA?

The members of SDPA are pilots of single and multi-engine aircraft, airships, hot air balloons, ultralights, floatplanes, and gliders; student, private, commercial, and ATP pilots; aircraft mechanics; avionics technicians; flight instructors; aircraft builders/restorers; fixed base operators; airport managers and administrators; airport advisory board members; SD Aeronautics Commissioners; state and federal legislators; and -- aviation enthusiasts and pilots from out of state who are interested in general aviation activities in South Dakota.

Who runs SDPA?

SDPA is run by officers including President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, and seven District Directors from across South Dakota. SDPA members are encouraged to alert the SDPA officers to raising aviation issues in South Dakota, the region, and the nation so that SDPA can discuss the issue and determine a course of action that might include a phone call, a formal letter, or alerting members in a newsletter story.

When and where are SDPA meetings?

SDPA meetings are held across South Dakota at various airports so that local pilots can easily participate in meetings and express local concerns about aviation. Meetings have been held in such places as Huron, Watertown, Gettysburg, Pierre, Madison, Hot Springs, Sioux Falls, Yankton, Wessington Springs, Brookings, Aberdeen, Belle Fourche, Flandreau, Oacoma, and Spearfish. Future meetings will be planned for South Dakota airports not yet visited. SDPA tries to shift meeting locations equally between western locations, eastern locations, northern locations, and southern locations. Meeting planners try to have a local person give a presentation on a local aviation program, business, or other aviation topic in or near the meeting place so that participants can learn more about aviation activities in that locale.

What are SDPA’s goals?

The goals of the SDPA are to encourage and improve education and safety related to aviation in South Dakota, provide centers of discussion for pilots and aviation enthusiasts, cooperate with federal, state, and municipalities in efforts to promote aviation, promote camaraderie among pilots and aviation enthusiasts, promote the rights and protect the privileges of pilots; and support programs for the development of adequate landing facilities in South Dakota. These goals are given in the Constitution and By-Laws of the South Dakota Pilots Association.

The SDPA tries to achieve these goals through sponsoring of safety meetings, holding meetings around the state, publishing a bimonthly newsletter, maintaining this web site, sponsoring the Becker-Hansen Memorial Scholarship, sponsoring the SDPA Aviation Maintenance Technology Scholarship, sponsoring scholarships to the ACE Camp, co-sponsoring the South Dakota Aviation Art Contest, and maintaining contacts with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Rapid City Flight Standards District Office and FAASTeam program, South Dakota Office of Air, Rail & Transit, South Dakota Aeronautics Commission, and numerous other aviation entities in South Dakota.

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