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Petersen takes to the skies...

Kenmare continues to have a small but dedicated group of aviators and now Dakota Petersen has joined those ranks.

4/07/20 (Tue)

Wing man . . . Aspiring young pilot Dakota Petersen, poses on the wing of an Air Tractor 301 aircraft. Petersen, a 2018 graduate of Kenmare High School, has earned a commercial pilot’s license and says his favorite aircraft are the F4U Corsair and Air Tractor 802.

By Marvin Baker

Kenmare continues to have a small but dedicated group of aviators and now Dakota Petersen has joined those ranks.

Petersen, a student at Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., is seeking an associate’s degree in the aviation maintenance technician program.

Earlier this year, Petersen received a $1,750 scholarship from the North Dakota Professional Aviation Maintenance Association, marking the second consecutive year he was named as the scholarship winner.

Rod Brekken, the aircraft maintenance training coordinator at the Fargo Jet Center, presented Petersen his scholarship award during the North Dakota Aviation Seminar held in Minot.

“This scholarship I was awarded will be used to help fund the education I need in order to obtain my Airframe and Power Plant certificate,” Petersen said. “I have been flying about five years and have been assisting with aircraft maintenance at Great Plains Aero, UND and Diamond Aviation throughout the past five years.”

Since leaving Kenmare High School in 2018 as the salutatorian of the Class of 2018, Petersen has obtained a commercial pilot’s license and has been actively flying.

Right now, he is seeking an Airframe and Power Plant certificate from Northland Tech.

His keen interest in aircraft and flying is a high priority for this young navigator, but he considers his power plant coursework important as well.

“At college I’ve learned the fundamentals of aircraft airframe and power plant maintenance,” Petersen said. “I have learned the inspection and maintenance procedures of turbine engines, electrical troubleshooting, engine overhaul procedures and airframe inspection requirement, just to name a few. The program covers numerous projects consisting of hands on experience that is essential to the proper maintenance of the types of aircraft being flown today.”

When Petersen was in high school, he believed flying airplanes was an adventure and he still believes it.

“If I were to describe flying in my own words, I would say it is an adventure that has no limit,” he said. “I have always been told that a mile of highway will take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere.”

Not only that, but he highly recommends anyone interested in flying to pursue their dreams.

“If anyone is debating on whether to pursue aviation or specifically flying, whether it be for personal reasons or as a career, I would say go for it,” Petersen said. “The thrill of piloting an aircraft never dies.”

When he gets out of college, he plans to continue  his pursuit as a professional aerial applicator and farmer.

“I have always loved farming, as well as flying, so being an aerial applicator and farmer is perfect,” Petersen said. “When winter weather hits, I plan to put my Airframe and Power Plant certificate to use by maintaining aircraft, whether it be my own, or for hire. Knowing how airplanes work and how to maintain them will also make me a better pilot.”

All of this has been building in the 20-year-old ace for a long time, so long in fact, that he doesn’t remember.

When young children grow up, they may say they want to be a police officer, firefighter or astronaut. For Petersen, it’s always been flying an airplane.

“Looking back, it’s hard for me to pick an exact age that I took an interest in flying,” he said. “It has been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I remember when I was little, watching local crop dusters put their skills to work, always had me looking up to the sky in amazement.”

And, just like the rest of us who can’t quite decide on what our favorite car might be, Petersen fits that mold too, except that it’s aircraft rather than cars.

“Picking a favorite aircraft is difficult,” he said. “But, if I had to pick, I would say the F4U Corsair and the Air Tractor 802 are among two of my favorites.”

The Vought F4U Corsair is an American fighter aircraft that saw service primarily in World War II and the Korean War. It was designed and operated as a carrier-based aircraft, and entered service in large numbers with the U.S. Navy in late 1944 and early 1945.

It quickly became one of the most capable carrier-based fighter-bombers of World War II. Some Japanese pilots regarded it as the most formidable American fighter of World War II.

The Air Tractor AT-802 is an agricultural aircraft that may also be adapted into fire-fighting or armed versions.

It first flew in the United States in October 1990 and is manufactured by Air Tractor Inc. The AT-802 carries a chemical hopper between the engine firewall and the cockpit. In the U.S., it is considered a Type III SEAT, or single engine air tanker.

Petersen is pictured above standing on the wing of an Air Tractor AT-301, which is similar to the 802, but is smaller and is designed for a single pilot as opposed to a dual seater in the 802. The 802 is the official aircraft of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and is used by the Israeli Air Force...  Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!