More than 13,000 visitors flooded the tarmac of the Grand Forks Air Force Base (GFAFB) on June 18, many toting camping chairs and rocking aviator sunglasses. Flight enthusiasts had traveled from across the region to experience the 2022 Northern Thunder Air Show, including Michael Auker and his family and friends from Devils Lake, N.D.
“We wanted to come look at a bunch of cool airplanes,” Auker said as he waited in line to see the inside of one of dozens of military planes staged on show grounds. “This really gets the kids involved and lets them see the stuff that they usually only see in the sky.”
The event, supported in part by Nodak Electric Cooperative and Minnkota Power Cooperative, was to feature food truck vendors, informational sponsor booths, and a full afternoon of physics-defying flights from airborne acts like the famous Thunderbirds. However, sustained high winds forced every set of wings to remain grounded.
“Even though the windstorm was a challenge,” said Lea Greene, chief of public affairs for the 319th Reconnaissance Wing, “it was incredible to open the gates to our friends and neighbors to show off their Air Force base, tour aircraft and look at some of the technology we use every day.”
“The GFAFB and the personnel living and working there have been such a big part of our community and the state of North Dakota over the years,” said Nodak Electric CEO Mylo Einarson. “Anything we can do to support them so they can focus on their mission is the least we could do.”
Nodak’s support of the GFAFB doesn’t stop with event sponsorship. The co-op has been a proud partner of the base for decades and, in 2018, signed a utilities privatization (UP) agreement with GFAFB to make Nodak the owner and operator of all of the community’s electric infrastructure. This partnership allows faster, safer, and more thorough electric service to the base’s residents.
“Over the last several years since we’ve become the GFAFB’s utility privatization contractor, our already strong relationship has developed further on more of an individual level with the servicemen and women and their families,” Einarson said.
The base is hoping for better weather for their next air show event, which is tentatively planned for 2025. Until then (and beyond), Nodak will continue to be there to light up the lives of the folks who serve our country. “I’m excited about the future of the GFAFB, and am looking forward to Nodak being a part of it,” Einarson said.