Aviation in Bismarck

Soon after pilots stepped off the first flights into Bismarck, local leaders understood the opportunity for the budding aviation industry to connect the region with people and possibilities beyond our state borders.

Aviation in North Dakota evolved as it did across the nation – from primitive flying machines to jet engines, from the delivery of mail to the mass transportation of passengers and goods, from navigation guided by landmarks and stars to sophisticated GPS and air traffic control systems.

Now 100 years since the first airplane landed in Bismarck, it is time to find a home for this rich history, a place to celebrate a century of flight and to spark a love of aviation among the next generation of North Dakotans.

  • Before construction of paved runways in 1940, flights into Bismarck landed in a cow pasture.

    Before construction of paved runways in 1940, flights into Bismarck landed in a cow pasture.

  • In June 1931, Northwest Airways landed at Bismarck Airport, marking the first commercial passenger flight into Bismarck. An early Northwest flight crew is pictured here.

    In June 1931, Northwest Airways landed at Bismarck Airport, marking the first commercial passenger flight into Bismarck. An early Northwest…

  • The first control tower was built on the bed of a truck raised on a platform.

    The first control tower was built on the bed of a truck raised on a platform.

  • Founded in 1926, Northwest Airways’ first business focus was flying mail routes for the U.S. Postal Service.

    Founded in 1926, Northwest Airways’ first business focus was flying mail routes for the U.S. Postal Service.

  • One of 16 Kellet K-2 Autogyros visited Bismarck in the 1930s.

    One of 16 Kellet K-2 Autogyros visited Bismarck in the 1930s.

  • Air traffic controllers began guiding flights in 1951, reducing staffing from 11 to six. This structure was replaced in 1976.

    Air traffic controllers began guiding flights in 1951, reducing staffing from 11 to six. This structure was replaced in 1976.

  • Beech Aircraft manufactured the Beech 18 from 1937 to 1969. This early aircraft visited “KBIS” – the identifier for Bismarck Airport.

    Beech Aircraft manufactured the Beech 18 from 1937 to 1969. This early aircraft visited “KBIS” – the identifier for Bismarck…

  • The Bismarck Municipal Airport terminal was built in 1936 and is pictured here mid-winter.

    The Bismarck Municipal Airport terminal was built in 1936 and is pictured here mid-winter.

  • Mid-Continent originated a north-south route between Tulsa and Bismarck in 1939, discontinued service during World War II and resumed the route in 1946.

    Mid-Continent originated a north-south route between Tulsa and Bismarck in 1939, discontinued service during World War II and resumed the…