Idaho students show talents in annual Aviation Art Contest

Idaho students age 5 and up competed under the theme “Aviation Gets You There” in the annual Aviation Art Contest through the Idaho Division of Aeronautics.

Age-group winners (categories listed below) received the following awards/recognition:

  • First place winners:
    • Invitation to ride in an airplane
    • Copy of their artwork signed by our Governor
    • Congratulatory letter
  • Second place winners:
    • Receive $25 in art supplies
    • Congratulatory letter
  • Runners-Up:
    • Runners-Up and winners are featured in the 2023 Aviation Art Calendar

Artwork Categories by Age:
Age Group I: 5–6 years old WINNER
Age Group II: 7–9 years old WINNER
Age Group III: 10–12 years old WINNER
Age Group IV: 13–15 years old WINNER
Age Group V: 16–18 years old NO ENTRIES

See all of the winning artwork on the art contest webpage under the “Safety & Education” tab.

Applications for next year’s contest will be available in January 2023 from the Aeronautics webpage.

Leading Idaho funds runway improvements to St. Anthony Community Airport

Grant funds in the amount of $1.7M from Gov. Little’s Leading Idaho initiative helped repair and replace sections of badly damaged runway at the small community airport in St. Anthony in October. The funds were used in conjunction with Idaho Airport Aid Program funding to complete the runway reconstruction and eliminate a significant safety hazard.

The consultant who managed the project, T-O Engineers, worked with the City of St. Anthony to help them reconstruct their only paved runway and build a new partial parallel taxiway for additional hangar development. The existing runway pavement was rated in “poor” condition in 2021 and was projected to drop to “very poor” within the next five years. The new partial parallel was constructed to provide access to the runway for existing and future hangars as well as improve safety at the airport.

Aviation Program Manager for T-O Engineers, Jared Norton, reported that the design included utilizing a CRABS (Concrete Recycled Asphalt Base Stabilization) process on existing runway pavement that was still in good condition and could be salvaged, which reduced construction costs and time, while providing a high-strength pavement section.

The project was not without its challenges, Norton said.

“During construction, we encountered unanticipated subsurface conditions that impacted the CRABS process. T-O Engineers worked with the city and contractor Depatco to quickly modify the design and allow the project to continue moving forward on schedule. In the end, the city was able to complete the full project on time and under budget. “

The new runway will better serve the agricultural spraying needs and general aviation operations at the small East Idaho airport.

“The Division of Aeronautics is honored to have the ability to collaborate with airport sponsors to ensure the safety and economic viability of the statewide aviation system,” said Aero’s Airport Planning Manager Jennifer Schildgen (pictured  left). “It is wonderful to see project completion and the amazing work being done through partnerships that helps the communities. It is one of the reasons I look forward to work every day.”

“Leading Idaho” funds used for critical runway improvement in Malad

TECM Program

Idaho Governor Brad Little’s “Leading Idaho” funding initiative paved the way recently for badly needed runway improvements at the Malad City Airport.

Leading Idaho funding supplied 100% of project costs, to the tune of $1.6M.

The project began in September 2021 and finished in late July. It was managed by local airport officials and Idaho’s Division of Aeronautics. The airfield at Malad City is one of 48 community airports statewide that are managed by Aero, which is part of the Idaho Transportation Department.

Malad’s City Airport was at the top of the list for funding due to a runway that only scored a 37 (of 100) in the most recent Pavement Condition Index (PCI) – a rating that translated to “Very Poor.” The PCI is the primary rating tool to determine the level of pavement distress and subsequent need for improvement.

The Malad City Airport is just the first of many small community airports across the state that will utilize these Leading Idaho funds to tackle needed repairs.

“A huge thank you to Governor Little for his Leading Idaho Grant and for the State of Idaho Aeronautics for trusting in Oneida County – Malad Airport with the grant funds to rebuild our runway,” said Malad City Airport Office Manager Roxanne Albretsen.  “We are beyond grateful and will maintain and keep it in beautiful condition for years to come!”

Airport Board member Mike Hess, in comments made to the local newspaper, The Idaho Enterprise, said the biggest beneficiaries of the runway improvement would include “Life Flight first and foremost; saving lives as Malad relies on medical transport in many life-threatening cases.”

Without a well-maintained runway, critical patients must be taken by ambulance to the nearest trauma center, which can often make a significant difference in their medical intervention.

Hess continued, “Firefighting would be next. Almost every year the Forest Service will set up a fire-fighting base there.”

This year’s fire season has not been as extreme as last year’s, but the recent Lemhi County and Yosemite fires suggest the season may have quite a few surprises left, especially as high temperatures and winds are in the forecast for much of August.

Hess also mentioned some less-visible benefits.  “Each year, Agricultural spray planes base their operations at the airport for the local agricultural community. There were over 2,200 landings here last year.  Many of these will take the Courtesy Car into town and buy lottery tickets and a meal. Many people fly in for other business purposes and/or family visits. Many visitors are flying cross-country and stop to purchase gas, which benefits the county.

The Idaho Department of Commerce has indicated that having a community with rail service, freeway access and an airport are three of the most important considerations new businesses look for when selecting a site.”

As part of Governor Little’s “Leading Idaho” initiative, the 2021 Idaho Legislature dedicated $126 million of one-time funds from Idaho’s budget surplus to transportation projects statewide. The funds were split 60/40 between ITD and local jurisdictions. Construction on this project is paid for with ITD’s portion of the funds that will accelerate projects to replace bridges, restore pavements, and improve mobility in communities across Idaho.

ACE Academy helps turn Nathan Johnson’s aviation interest into passion

We often don’t realize the impact our actions can have on others. Complementing a stranger, giving friendly advice and other seemingly insignificant things can change the trajectory of a person’s day. Those kindnesses can sometimes change the path of someone’s life as well.

Dan Conner, ITD Airport Manager with the Division of Aeronautics, was lucky to experience this when a friend’s son had an interest in aviation.

“We were sitting around a campfire on a hunting trip in 2019 when I learned that my friend’s son, Nathan, was interested in a career in aviation,” said Conner. “I recommended that he enroll in the ACE Academy to learn more about what he can do in the industry.”

Nathan attended the the Division of Aeronautics’ ACE Academy that year. That experience turned his interest into passion.

“I received Nathan’s high school graduation announcement this past June and learned that he is attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to continue his education,” said Conner.

Nathan’s father, Brett Johnson, said that Nathan still talks about what he learned in the ACE Academy.

The ACE Academy is held in Boise early each summer. For more information about the program or to apply, please contact or call 208 334-8780.

Nathan (second from right) at the 2019 ACE Academy.
Dan Conner
Nathan at Embry-Riddle.


Aeronautics launches upgraded aircraft registration system

The Division of Aeronautics launched SOAR (System of Aircraft Registration) in mid-July, a new system for registering aviation dealers and aircraft in Idaho. The Office of Communications spoke with Derra Kolar, Division of Aeronautics Technical Records Specialist, about the new SOAR program.

“In 2010, Aeronautics was in desperate need of a way to track aircraft and their owners, airmen and aircraft dealers. The Aircraft Dealer Airman Management (ADAM) formed a team and the system was born. The new system allows Aeronautics to quickly register aircraft and link their owners, businesses and pilots. It also created the capability to track aircraft dealers. Although ADAM provided functionality that made the job much easier, there were pitfalls that were not known prior to the system being built,” said Kolar.

The new SOAR system is much faster in processing aviation dealers and aircraft registrations. Dealers, aircrafts, and businesses are now on a single screen. This is much more efficient than ADAM where the user had to scroll through pages to find what they were looking for.  Kolar said this capability has made a huge difference in the process.

With the implementation of SOAR, Aeronautics now has:

  • A more comprehensive and reliable approach to referring records to county assessors;
  • The ability to send an automated group of reminder renewal notices – which will increase revenue; and
  • Cleaner data organized in a more usable fashion, which allows us the ability to serve the public even better.

ITD considering partnership to reinitiate maintenance of backcountry airstrip in Lemhi County

Hoodoo Meadows Airstrip corridor and borrow trench - Photo taken near entrance facing North.

The Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Aeronautics (ITD) is seeking public comments as it considers restoring and managing a backcountry airstrip in the Salmon-Challis National Forest.

The Hoodoo Meadows airstrip (as shown in image above) is the highest in the state at an elevation of 8,200 feet, and provides access to the Frank Church – Wilderness of No Return. The airstrip is located just south of Yellowjacket Lake and near the popular Bighorn Crags area. It has not been used since the 1980s.

The site was managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) after its construction in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and traditionally used to gain recreational access for alpine lake fishing, wildlife viewing, and big game hunting. Although there were no reported accidents, in the early 1980s the airstrip was rated marginal for safety, and by 1989 trees had encroached the site and made it unusable.

In 2016, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) initiated the effort to restore the Hoodoo Meadows airstrip, due to repeated public inquiries about recreational accessibility. Together, USFS, IDFG, and ITD, with support from the Idaho Aviation Association and the Recreation Aviation Foundation, are working on an agreement that would open the site for air travel and provide for future maintenance.

“This effort has been underway for several years. Our role would be making the airstrip safe for pilots to land again, by clearing vegetation and installing safety features like runway markers,” Aeronautics Administrator Jeff Marker said. “It would take about a month of initial cleanup work on our part, but would provide more access for those who wish to explore some of the most remote places in Idaho.”

Visit to review the proposed partnership, then please provide ITD your feedback on the plan. Public comments will be accepted March 15 to March 29 through the following options:

  • Email
  • Record verbal testimony by calling (855) 785-2499
  • Send your written comments by mail to
    ATTN: Jillian Garrigues
    Idaho Transportation Department
    PO Box 7129
    Boise, ID 83707

The USFS sought comments in 2018 on reopening the Hoodoo Meadows airstrip. Now, the public can voice their support or concerns regarding ITD’s involvement in the partnership.

Airports across Idaho benefit from nearly $53M in federal and state grants

Federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants of about $39.5 million will help seven primary (commercial) airports across the state with needed improvements to their passenger and aviation facilities. In addition, AIP grants of almost $10 million will help 18 medium and small General Aviation airports across Idaho maintain and improve their aviation facilities.

A local match of $3.2 million is also included in the total.

“Idaho has a somewhat larger FAA program this year than previous years, with a few notable improvements,” explained Idaho Division of Aeronautics Airport Planning and Development Manager Bill Statham.

The Idaho Airport Aid Program (IAAP) will benefit 7 primary, 18 General Aviation, and 5 community airports throughout Idaho with $1 million. Here is a list of Gem State airports that received those grants:

– 4 primary airports (with commercial passengers) received 1 FAA grant each, totaling $10,159,682
Boise, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, and Twin Falls
– 2 primary airports (with commercial passengers) received 2 FAA grants each, totaling $2,355,315
Hailey and Pocatello
– 1 primary airport (with commercial passengers) received 3 FAA grants totaling $27,036,892 of which one was a supplemental FAA grant.
– 16 General Aviation airports received 16 FAA grants totaling $9,093,423.
Bear Lake County, Blackfoot-McCarley Field, Caldwell Industrial, Cascade, Challis, Coeur D’Alene -Pappy Boyington Field, Council Municipal, Gooding Municipal, Jerome County, Mountain Home Municipal, Nampa Municipal, Orofino Municipal, Priest River Municipal, Rexburg-Madison County, Salmon-Lemhi County, and Weiser Municipal
– 2 General Aviation airports received 4 FAA grants totaling $2,552,569 of which one was a supplemental FAA grant.
Driggs and McCall
– 25 primary and General Aviation airports got Idaho Airport Aid Program (IAAP) grants, totaling $646,426.
All listed primary and General Aviation airports
– 5 community airports received 5 IAAP grants totaling $223,471
Midvale, Rigby, Payette, Downey, and Mackay

Here is a complete list of airports receiving a grant, the amount of the AIP and IAAP grants, and the improvements that received funding.

Several Idaho airports are in the running for additional federal grants through a second round of FAA Supplemental Funding.

ITD’s Hinen assists in saving lives in aviation search and rescue

On Aug. 17, the quick thinking and decisive action of Division of Aeronautics Search-and-Rescue Coordinator Jim Hinen resulted in two lives being saved. Hinen was responding to a near-fatal crash near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Bill Sperling and his friend, Tom, crashed around midday in the heavily wooded area northeast of McCall as they flew out after breakfast that morning at the Flying B Ranch. A second plane, flying nearby, said he saw Sperling’s Cessna 182 try to climb out of the canyon, struggle to do so, then crashed as he attempted to turn back.

When the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) was activated by the crash, Hinen was involved as the SAR Coordinator for Aeronautics.

Hinen took the data, contacted air-traffic control and family members to obtain information on the flight path, and arranged for rescue assets to be deployed to the site. During that time, Jim worked with family members to answer questions and provide information.

Hinen’s speculation is that either the aircraft was unable to climb out, and during the turn around, slowed too much and stalled, or had engine/mechanical problems which affected his performance and during the turn around, slowed too much and stalled the aircraft.

“During the summer when the temperature gets hot at high altitudes, aircraft performance is degraded,” Hinen explained. “There is a higher-density altitude.”

“Pilots should be checking aircraft performance charts during preflight to determine if they have enough power available to take off and climb out. ”

They were taken to University of Utah’s burn center in Salt Lake City to recover from second- and third-degree burns sustained in the crash. The response happened within two hours of the crash, likely preventing much different outcome.

“Due to the quick response by Jim, both pilot and passenger are expected to recover,” explained Idaho Aeronautics Administrator Mike Pape.

The Krassel Helitac Crew of McCall performed an emergency short-haul mission to extract one of those involved in the crash who would not otherwise have been able to receive further treatment.

“Short-hauls are when we secure one of our medical providers at the end of a rope who in turn secures the patient,” wrote Anthony Botello, District Ranger with the Krassel Ranger District of the Payette National Forest. “Once secure, both our responder and the patient are hauled under the helicopter at the end of the rope to a place where Life Flight or other responders can take over.”

The Forest Service only has a handful of crews in the nation that are trained and capable of performing short-haul missions.

It is believed to be the first-ever short haul of a member of the public by a Forest Service helicopter and crew.

Hinen maintains he was just one moving part in the rescue. “There were many people involved in the recovery efforts from many agencies and we all assumed a different role in the recovery effort.”

“Fortunately, the people all survived,” said Hinen. “It doesn’t always work out that way.”

Improper decision-making was common thread in Idaho’s recent aviation accidents

Idaho’s Division of Aeronautics, in its Idaho Aviation Accident Score Card, found faulty aeronautic decision-making was the common thread for most of the state’s 22 general-aviation accidents. There are numerous aviation safety teachings in the coming year to combat this trend.

Most of the accidents — 68% — occurred during the takeoff or landing phase of flight.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) categorized 73% of the accidents as “pilot error.” Another 9% were listed as “mechanical/maintenance” accidents. Five percent were “environmental,” another 5% were “unknown,” and 14% are still under investigation.

The report excludes scheduled commercial-airline flights and flight activity performed by the uniformed armed services.

General aviation flying in Idaho can be challenging. Statistics indicate Idaho has traditionally experienced a higher per-capita accident rate than neighboring states. In 2013, the division set a goal of reducing the state general aviation accident rate by half over a five-year period.

The goal is being accomplished through airport standard operating procedures, welcome packets for visiting pilots, fly-in safety briefings, safety seminars, and the annual safety standdown event.

View the 5-year accident bar chart.

The report analyzes aviation accident data from two years prior, in this case 2016. The data comes from the NTSB database. It takes a couple years for investigations to be completed; thus the reason for the two-year lag.

The report includes yearly comparisons and summaries, total number of general aviation accidents, fatal accidents, fatalities, pilot qualifications, and class of aircraft.

“With this data, we can identify a particular area of emphasis when planning workshops and trainings for the next year,” said Idaho Division of Aeronautics’ Jim Hinen, who leads the safety/education unit.

Here are a few of the findings:

– Aircraft accidents decreased from 28 in 2015 to 22 in 2016
– Fatalities resulting from aircraft accidents decreased from 9 in 2015 to 1 in 2016
– Fatal accidents decreased from 4 in 2015 to 1 in 2016

The mission of the Idaho Division of Aeronautics is to promote and foster aviation within the state of Idaho. The Safety/Education unit of the Division supports this mission by providing relevant, high-quality safety information, and education programs for the benefit of stakeholders.

Calendar of coming Idaho Division of Aeronautics safety events
Here are some upcoming safety events:
May 5: Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) Rusty Pilot Seminar in Boise
May 9: AOPA Collision Avoidance Seminar in Coeur d’Alene
May 16: Pilot Safety Seminar in Twin Falls (with FAA Safety Team)
May 18-19: Pilot Safety Seminar at the Idaho Aviation Expo in Idaho Falls (with FAA Safety Team)
Oct. 26: Certificated Flight Instructor Roundtable in Boise
Oct. 27: Annual Safety Standdown in Boise

The number of general-aviation accidents occurring in neighboring states from highest to lowest:
– Nevada 32
– Washington 31
– Oregon 23
Idaho 22
– Montana 18
– Utah 18
– Wyoming 10

Idaho receives nearly $37 million from federal Airport Improvement Program

BOISE – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently awarded nearly $37 million in grants to Idaho airports from the Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

In all, 23 recipients received 32 FAA-AIP grants to maintain and improve Idaho’s airport facilities. This is the culmination of a joint federal, state, and local airport process to address air transportation in Idaho.

“Idaho’s quality airport system requires regular investment,” Idaho Division of Aeronautics Administrator Mike Pape said. “With that level of interest and commitment, Idaho will keep and improve a world-renowned airport system that services the citizens of Idaho to meet goals for mobility, safety, and economic opportunity.”

Some highlights:
– Idaho’s six primary (passenger) airports received grants totaling $28,961,834.
– Idaho’s federally eligible General Aviation airports received grants totaling $7,619,553.
– The Idaho Division of Aeronautics received a grant for $410,000 to update their Airport System Plan.

The state of Idaho, through ITD’s Division of Aeronautics, has provided an additional $1 million to assist airport owners in meeting the matching-funds obligation that is part of the FAA-AIP funding and to provide funding for small community airports that do not qualify for federal funding.

The list includes grants for these major projects:

McCarley Field/Blackfoot 
Rehabilitate Taxiway

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
Rehabilitate Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Building

Boise Air Terminal/Gowen Field
Rehabilitate Taxiway & Improve Safety Area

Friedman Memorial
Rehabilitate Runway, Snow Removal Equipment & Expand North Terminal Apron

Idaho Falls Regional
Reconstruct Taxiways & Install Guidance Signs

Jerome County 
Rehabilitate Apron & Reconstruct Taxiway

Lewiston-Nez Perce County
Construct buildings for Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting, Snow Removal Equipment
Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle

Magic Valley Regional
Construct Taxiway, Acquire Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Vehicle
Rehabilitate Taxiway & Reconstruct Taxiway

McCall Municipal 
Reconstruct Apron

Mountain Home Municipal 
Reconstruct Apron

Pocatello Regional
Rehabilitate Runway 03-21, Reconstruct Taxiway, Rehabilitate Runway 17-35, Rehabilitate Taxiway, Acquire Snow-Removal Equipment