Longtime PR airport enthusiast inducted to Aviation Hall of Fame
By Anna Erickson
David Konshok has been inducted to the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame for his ongoing work and dedication to the Park Rapids Municipal Airport.
“It’s quite an honor,” Konshok said this week. “I’ve always enjoyed working in aviation. Everything from working with kids through the CAP (Civil Air Patrol) to working with the community.”He was born in Montana and his family moved to Park Rapids in 1930 when he was 4 years old. He worked in the family department store as a teenager, then joined the U.S. Navy out of high school, serving as a radioman.He recalled being lucky to grow up in Minnesota and born in 1926.“It was no wonder a picture of Lindbergh’s flight was in my room,” Konshok said in a speech he gave at the induction ceremony Saturday, April 20. “When I was old enough I could run to the Park Rapids Airport to see the occasional barnstormer fly in, offering cockpit rides.”He was hooked shortly after that.Konshok took flying lessons in the early 1950s and received his private license in 1956. He focused his attention on the city-owned airport and began working toward its improvement. He joined the Park Rapids Airport Commission in the late 1950s and became the emissary to the State Aeronautics Department, lobbying in St. Paul for funding for airport improvements.Over the years, he worked persistently with the Park Rapids mayor and city council, with airport tenants and users to get hangars built, runways paved and improved, a VOR installed (radio system) and helped create a passenger terminal/administration building.Working with major airport users such as 3M and RDO, Konshok took their wants to the city and was successful in convincing the staff that airport improvements were a must. Zoning changes, additional hangars, a fueling station, and an ag chemical loading area came into being under his leadership.Some 60 years after his joining the Airport Commission and the Minnesota Council of Airports, Konshok is still Airport Commission Chairman and is its major mover and shaker.Konshok also helped found a local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol in 1968 and became the squadron commander and was later on the wing staff. Many of his CAP cadets went on to become military and airline pilots.“It was rewarding working with those kids,” he said.The CAP had several aircraft over the years, including a pair of Cessna L-19s. In 1976, while taking off on a mission to alert the public of an approaching forest fire, with the local sheriff in the back seat of an L-19, his plane was caught in a downdraft and slammed down in a lake. The plane was totaled and both the sheriff and Konshok were seriously injured. They both later recovered.Konshok continues to work on airport improvements and has been part of the planning of a crosswind runway project that could start this year.The $5 million project would be paid for at 90 percent with federal dollars. The city’s obligation is $500,000. The city currently has a 3,000-foot grass cross-wind runway with attached taxiway. With increasing traffic at the airport, a concrete runway was deemed to better serve those who use it.Konshok was inducted with five others at the ceremony April 20. He joins fellow Park Rapids pilot Noel Allard, who was inducted to the Aviation Hall of Fame in 2010.For more information about the Hall of Fame, go to mnaviationhalloffame.org.