Happy Spring Minnesota Aviators!
MnDOT Aeronautics Representatives Play Key Role
March 1, 2021
As I write this, temperatures are far below zero and the decidedly non-gopher rodent in Punxsutawney Pennsylvania told me there are weeks of winter ahead. Still, I can’t help but think of spring, new flowers budding, birds chirping, and the smell of road construction in the morning. The warmer weather seems to also warm our Minnesota joy for all outdoor activities, and if this spring is anything like last year, the General Aviation community will again be busy learning to fly or renewing skills, buying gas, and putting more planes in the air than has been seen in some time.
All this aviation activity further highlights the vitality of the work MnDOT does to ensure our airports continue to safely serve the diverse needs of our GA community. I encourage you to get to know the MnDOT staff that regularly visits your airport.
You can find us present in your communities, visiting FBOs and other aviation businesses, buying gas at your airport’s pump, having lunch in the community, and meeting with our fellow aviators. While our goal is to keep Minnesota’s general aviation system running and as safe as possible, we also want to connect with Minnesota’s active aviation community as best as possible – and hear your aviation story.
If you find MnDOT staff wandering around your airport don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. We’re always happy to explain our process. One process that begins anew every spring are the airport inspections commonly referred to as “5010’s.” A 5010 inspection ensures primary surfaces are free of obstacles (trees, crops, brush) to keep pilots safe when landing at any public airport in Minnesota.
In broader terms, we are generally onsite looking at the airport holistically to ensure both FAA Part 77 and Minnesota airport licensing standards are met.
Jim McCanney, MnDOT aviation representative, conducts many of these inspections. Jim is our most experienced Aviation Representative. Prior to joining MnDOT, Jim flew jets for corporate clients. Today you will find Jim flying fixed wing aircraft as well as unmanned air systems (or “drones”) that give MnDOT a valuable perspective of everything from bridge inspections to construction planning.
Tim Jarvis is one of our newer aviation representatives. He spent 15 years running airshows before bringing his eye for safety to MnDOT. Tim learned firsthand how critical safe airports are for communities that would like to bring commercial events to town. “Prior to joining MnDOT my duties included first and foremost Safety,” Jarvis said. “The airshow environment can be hazardous for obvious reasons. We all know operating aircraft at high speeds in close proximity to the ground can be very unforgiving.”
Aviation Representative Kyle Sullivan is our newest addition to the MnDOT Aeronautics team. Kyle is no stranger to aviation, having served two combat tours, including 150-plus hours over the skies of Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy Weapons Systems Officer (think of it as “Goose” from the movie Top Gun) in the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Tim has landed in conditions that most of us GA pilots don’t have the thrill of experiencing. I’m not sure I would want to land a PA-28 on an aircraft carrier deck, but to hear Kyle’s stories is certainly worth a chat.
Mina Carlson, heliport administrator, operates one of our most critical off-airport activities – helping helicopter pilots know the helipad they are landing on meets Minnesota standards. Most of Minnesota’s helipads are at healthcare facilities and are critical connections within our transportation system. Mina works tirelessly to ensure those connections happen safely and predictably. Mina got her first taste of aviation in high school and has been hooked ever since. Nearly two decades in the left seat has not diminished her enthusiasm for flying, and when not working at MnDOT you may find her in a C-130 as a flight engineer with the Flying Vikings.
Wherever you might see us, I encourage you to say “Hi!” Stop us anytime to chat about the local airport, the vendors, the joy of flying, and the local community while we are there. We are here to provide support where we can, make recommendations when appropriate, and work to advance the interests of the aviation community in ways that benefit the system now and into the future.
Once you get to know us, I am sure you will learn we are much like you; we are parents, spouses, and siblings, and we are passionate about aviation.
If you ever have questions, concerns or just want to provide input about general aviation airport inspections and safety, you can reach Jim, Tim, Kyle, or Mina by email or the phone numbers listed below. We all fly safe together. We are One Minnesota.