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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 23: Dakotas

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JJ Meehan
The Meehan Family

The Dakotas are made up of North Dakota and South Dakota.  Both are know for their Bad Lands.  The people of both states are very religious conservative people who have very good sense of right and wrong.  I have spent more time in Sioux Falls than any other city in North or South Dakota.  Sioux Falls is one of the friendliest cities I’ve visited.  At one point in my travels, I decided that in addition to Cedar Rapids, Sioux Falls would be my second choice to live and raise a family.  Rapid City, South Dakota is the site of Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.

Other places that I have visited by air are Watertown, Yankton, Mitchell, South Dakota, and Minot, North Dakota.  I’ve always been impressed by the Missouri River as it flows though Chamberlain, South Dakota.  On east side you have the fertile green fields and the west side you have the Bad Lands.  The river at Chamberlain is a deep blue that really sets the stage.  Mitchell is the home of the Corn Palace, which needless to say is covered in corn each year.

The following map will give you and idea of where the cities are located the places I’ve visited.  Several of these trips took place between 1988 and 1900.  On the trip to Minot, ND I stopped in Yankton, SD so I showed one flight going to Yankton and then to Minot.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota USA

By now you can tell that I love to travel and that I love almost all the places I have visited.  Sioux Falls stands as one of the best cities in the USA in my opinion.  Needless to say but I would say Cedar Rapids, Iowa is my ideal city because of the people, education, opportunities,  location and culture.  Sioux Falls is my second choice.  The people are fantastic.  Starting from the time you land to the time I take-off, I feel like they can not do enough to make my stay enjoyable enough.  The people of Sioux Falls make this my 2nd choice.  The airport is named after Governor Joe Foss, who was a War Hero and Pilot during World War II.  Joseph Jacob “Joe” Foss (April 17, 1915–January 1, 2003) was the leading fighter ace of the United States Marine Corps during World War II, a 1943 recipient of the Medal of Honor, a General in the Air National Guard, the 20th Governor of South Dakota, and the first commissioner of the American Football League.  As of the 2000 census, Sioux Falls had a population of 123,975 and a metropolitan area population of 187,093. However, a 2008 Census Bureau estimate shows Sioux Falls to have grown to a population of 154,997, with a metropolitan population of 232,930. It is also the primary city of the Sioux Falls-Sioux City Designated Market Area (DMA), a larger media market region that covers parts of four states and has a population of 1,043,450. Chartered in 1856 on the banks of the Big Sioux River, the city is situated on the prairie of the Great Plains at the junction of Interstate 90 and Interstate 29. Sioux Falls is a regional center of urban and rural interaction.

The following picture was taken of Sioux Falls in the 1950’s.

Yankton, South Dakota

Yankton is located on the Missouri River in Southeast South Dakota.  It was the heart of hunting, fishing and boating in South Dakota.  It may have been the Pheasant Capital of the USA.  The Midwest is know for it’s Pheasant population and during the fall hunters come from all over the world to hunt pheasants in the Midwest.  South Dakota may have the title of being the number one Pheasant Hunter’s paradise in the USA.  This is partly do to the Dam that the Corp of Engineers built on the Missouri River after World War II.  This became a boating, fishing and relaxation area for the residents in South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.  It became a stopping place for food and relaxation for Pheasants as they migrate south for the winter.   This resulted in one of the best Pheasant areas in the World.

In addition to the gaming, fishing and other sporting activities in Yankton, it was the home of Yankton State Bank, which was a community bank that supported their community and also was a big supporter of Banks of Iowa Computer Services (BICS).  They helped promote our service throughout South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa.  Yankton is also the home of some of the friendliest people in the world.

Chamberlain, South Dakota

I’ve never stayed in Chamberlain.  I’ve only flown over and driven through on I-90.  This city has always caught my attention because of the beauty of the Missouri River.  It appears that the river is dividing the Bad Lands (Dry Lands) for the west from the Green Lands (Wet Lands) of the east.  Much like Lake Tahoe, Nevada, it may just be the difference in scenery but for some reason the Missouri river always appears bluer and prettier at Chamberlain, South Dakota.  By the time Missouri Rive gets to Omaha, it appears muddy and dirty.

Mitchell, South Dakota

Mitchell, South Dakota is the home of the Corn Palace  I’ve only been to Mitchell 3 or 4 times but there is no missing the Corn Palace.  It is decorated each year with a different design from “Corn”.  The following are a few of the designs:


Rapid City, South Dakota

Rapid City is best know for Mount Rushmore.

Rapid City is also the center of western history.  Wild Bill Hickok was killed in the small town of Deadwood.  On August 2, 1876, Hickok was playing poker at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon No. 10 in Deadwood, in the Black Hills, Dakota Territory. On this fateful day Wild Bill violated one of his own cardinal rules and was sitting with his back to a door. Twice he asked Rich to change seats with him and on both occasions Rich refused.  Wild Bill was having a run of bad luck that day and was forced to borrow a poker stake from the bartender. That run of bad luck worsened when an ex-buffalo hunter called John (“Broken Nose Jack”) McCall walked in unnoticed. Jack McCall walked to within a few feet of Wild Bill and then suddenly drew a pistol and shouted, “Take that!” before firing.  The bullet hit Hickok in the back of the head, killing him instantly. The bullet emerged through Wild Bill’s right cheek striking Captain Massie in the left wrist. Legend has it that Hickok had lost his stake and had just borrowed $50 from the house to continue playing. When shot, he was holding a pair of aces and a pair of eights, all black. The fifth card is debated, or, as some say, had been discarded and its replacement had not yet been dealt.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Gold was one of the main items that brought men to the west.  Lead was the center of mining for gold for many years and just stopped mining a few years ago.  Custer State Park is one of the best state parks in the USA.

Minot, North Dakota

Minot (pronounced /ˈmaɪnɒt/ ( listen), MYE-not) is a city located in north central North Dakota in the United States. With a population of 36,567 at the 2000 census, Minot is the fourth largest city in the state. The city is the county seat of Ward County[3] and is a trading center for a large portion of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan. Founded in 1886 during the construction of the Great Northern Railway, Minot is also known as the “Magic City“.  I was here only once to pick up passengers after a snow storm had cancelled all flights and they were trying to get home.  They were all employees of CMF&Z.  I had been working in Yankton when I got the call.  It was Friday and I finished my work around 3:00 pm and headed for Minot.  The picture below is a good picture of Minot but the only thing I remember was that it was late in April and they had just received 20 inches of snow.  We were all very glad to get home to Cedar Rapids.

Minot, North Dakota

Watertown, South Dakota

Watertown is located in the Northeastern part of South Dakota.  We were getting close to closing on the Douglas County Bank and Trust in Omaha and needed to have some quality time with the management of the bank.  The Group that owned the bank were having a Group Meeting in Watertown, South Dakota and we got an invitation to join them from one of the banks we served – Corydon State Bank in Corydon, Iowa.  They were looking for transportation for the bankers from Omaha and from Corydon to the Group Meeting.  I arranged the transportation and was the pilot for one of the flights.  My Marketing Director would be on the other flight.  I took the flight that would pick up the bankers in Corydon and Larry was on the flight that picked up Douglas County Bank in Omaha.  We left Cedar Rapids around noon on Friday and were both in Watertown by 4:00 pm on Friday evening.

The evening started with cocktails at the local President’s Home.  Then we went to another private home for a 25 course Italian Dinner.  I have never eaten so much in my life.  The next day we spent the time making friends with the bankers from the different banks in the group and relaxing by the indoor pool as they completed their meetings.  It was November and the outside temperature only reached a high of – 5 F degrees (-21 C degrees)  The lowers were –20 F degrees  (-29 C degrees) so we did not go outside much.  We had put both planes in heated hangers at the airport.  The meetings went well but we did not get much other than the concern about distance from Omaha to Cedar Rapids and the concern of how to capture the data.  This would be come the key point which we finally resolved about 3 weeks later as I discussed in my blog on Omaha in Volume II Chapter 14.  The temperature was – 15 F ( –26 C) when we took off on Sunday around 10:00 am.  The winds were very strong out of the Northwest.  This gave me a very strong tailwind and I was able to make the flight between Watertown and Chariton in record time (Ground Speed was 235 KTS).

The only thing I can remember about Watertown was the fantastic 25 course Italian Dinner and the very cold temperatures.  From the air Watertown appeared to be a very nice city.

Watertown, South Dakota

Hope you enjoyed this blog on flying.  Please read more of my stories on flying on my WEB Site at “FLY HIGH AND FAST”.


Written by jjmeehan13

March 1, 2010 at 10:49 am

Posted in Flying

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