University of Minnesota Driven to Discover
Minnesota Airports Conference

2019 Minnesota Airports Conference

April 24-26, 2019
Willmar Conference Center
240 23rd Street SE
Willmar, MN 56201

About the Event

The annual Minnesota Airports Conference features experts in aviation and aerospace fields sharing their experiences in general assembly presentations, workshops, and open forums. The conference, held in conjunction with the Minnesota Council of Airports annual meeting, also includes technical and safety presentations, an industry trade show, and an awards and recognition program.

The conference aims to deliver the most up-to-date and advanced information for Minnesota aviation professionals and provide an opportunity for industry and government officials to exchange ideas on funding, trends, airport management, operations, maintenance, and best practices. Please join us at the conference for an engaging learning experience, where you'll network with peers and vendors and learn how Minnesota airports are growing one community at a time.

Program Highlights

Vikings Harrison Smith

Once again, this year's conference will feature a notable aviation-related keynote speaker: our very own Minnesota Vikings player Harrison Smith!

Throughout his college career at Notre Dame and into his early years in Minnesota, the star Vikings safety felt a gripping anxiety whenever he flew on official team charters. Smith decided there was no better way to get over his fear than to learn how to fly a plane himself, so he started ground school at Flying Cloud Airport and began the process of becoming a licensed pilot. After 65 hours in the air, he was ready for his private pilot check ride, which he passed with ease.

Smith will escort conference attendees to the Fagen Fighter Museum at the Granite Falls Airport on the morning of April 24. At noon, he'll help kick off the conference as the keynote speaker at the opening luncheon.


Download the conference agenda.

Topics Covered

  • Unmanned aerial systems
  • Airport design and operations considerations for special operations
  • Tips for airport managers
  • Concurrent uses and land releases
  • Sustainable and resilient airport design
  • Capital improvement program and airport funding
  • Solar panels and tall towers
  • Obstruction analysis, mitigation, and removal
  • Creating a snow and ice control plan
  • Connecting airports to the community: last mile
  • Airfield tornado recovery
  • Airport lighting problems
  • The latest in funding, policy, and safety from MnDOT and FAA leaders

The conference is brought to you by the Minnesota Council of Airports and the Minnesota Department of Transportation and facilitated by the Airport Technical Assistance Program (AirTAP).





  • Register online
  • Register by mail or fax: Download the brochure and registration form (PDF)
  • Cost (includes sessions, meals, and banquet):
    • Full conference: $225 ($255 after April 9)
    • One day (Wednesday or Thursday): $125 ($155 after April 9)
    • Guest fee for social mixer on April 24: $35
    • Guest fee for awards luncheon on April 25: $30
    • Guest fee for mystery theatre dinner (Italian buffet) on April 25: $50 

There is no student fee for attendance this year. Students may register by contacting Mark Knoff at 507-995-3051 or

Become a Sponsor/Exhibitor

Learn about becoming a sponsor/exhibitor at the 2019 conference.

Who Should Attend

The conference focuses on airport management, operations, and maintenance, but it is open to anyone interested in aviation.


Accommodations are available at the Best Western Plus (320-235-6060) and the Holiday Inn Express (320-231-2601) at the special conference rate of $109 plus tax per night. To make a reservation, call your desired hotel and mention that you are an attendee of the Minnesota Airports Conference.

More Information

For more information, please contact Katherine Stanley at or 612-626-1023.

AirTAP | University of Minnesota | Minneapolis, MN 55455 | Location & Contact Information