Press "Enter" to skip to content

Coronav—Hey! Mickelson Died in a Plane Crash! We Need a New Plane!

Governor Kristi Noem’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022 has a lot to analyze. But let’s start with the slide she tucked into the bottom half of her presentation to the Legislature today declaring that she needs a new plane:

Gov. Kristi Noem, FY2020 Budget Address slide #19, 2020.12.08.
Gov. Kristi Noem, FY2020 Budget Address slide #19, 2020.12.08.

Like virtually all other states, South Dakota maintains a small fleet of aircraft for use by state officials and employees. The fleet is also used to respond to fires in the Black Hills.

Our state currently has three aircraft that are an average of 26 years old.

To help ensure the safety of all state officials who utilize this fleet, I recommend that we purchase a newer plane. Simultaneously, I am recommending that the state sell two of our older planes. This downsizing from three to two planes will be much more efficient for the state in the long run. As planes age, they require more frequent, complex, and very expensive maintenance.

The State’s top priority when considering aircraft must be safety. We all know that South Dakota tragically lost a governor, two state commissioners, three chief executives, and two pilots, 27 years ago. They died in service to our great state. While our state lost profound dignitaries in that crash, their families lost so much more. The plane we currently fly is the same plane purchased after that crash.

I’m recommending we invest $5 million to purchase a newer airplane. Combined with the sale of two older planes, again, this will be a safer and more cost-effective path forward for the state’s air fleet [Gov. Kristi Noem, FY 2022 Budget Address, as published in that Sioux Falls paper, 2020.12.08].

Coronavirus has killed 1,111 South Dakotans in less than a year and is infecting and killing more as we speak, but the only new spending Governor Noem recommends to respond to that grave public health threat is $5 million in grants to help upgrade local butcher shops to process and sell more local meat. But eight guys died 27 years ago when a state plane crashed, and Governor Noem invokes that long-ago threat as justification for her investment of an equivalent amount of money in a cushier plane to take her around the state and likely around the country for her 2024 Presidential campaign.

We know what you’re up to, Kristi.

But Kristi’s invocation of Saint George reminds us what happens when government doesn’t take safety seriously. Two years before the only fatal loss of a South Dakota state plane ever, a similar Mitsubishi MU-2B threw a propeller blade, which pierced the fuselage. The National Transportation and Safety Board recommended inspections of all Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 propeller hubs. But government didn’t act on this clear safety hazard:

The NTSB however didn’t have the power to order the inspections. That authority rested with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Months passed. Nothing happened.

Finally on Jan. 4, 1993, the FAA’s then-administrator, Thomas Richards, responded to the NTSB recommendation. Special inspections weren’t necessary, he told the NTSB.

The NTSB’s then-chairman, Carl Vogt, didn’t accept that answer. He repeated the recommendation for inspections in letters to the FAA again on Jan. 6, 1993, and on March 4, 1993.

That last letter was just six weeks before the South Dakota MU-2B-60 was flying back from a meeting in Cincinnati….

Ignoring the MU-2B-60 recommendation was senseless, deadly and truly tragic. The pilots allowed to handle the planes were professionals in the highest sense.

Not telling them to have the prop hubs checked for cracks was criminal. Their government knowingly let them put their lives and their passengers’ lives at risk [Bob Mercer, “The Real Tragedy of the 1993 Crash Was People Knew and Didn’t Warn,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2012.04.12].

Governor Noem is very good at learning the lessons of history she wants but ignoring the lessons of history that we really need.


  1. grudznick 2020-12-08

    Safety enhancements are always good. And it seems far better to buy some concrete object with a resale value than pounding millions and millions and MILLIONS into free internet for the world. Piles of sand, pounded down a rathole indeed. And the state fair? Who among you has actually gone to the state fair in the last 10 years? grudznick wants a show of hands.

  2. Mark Anderson 2020-12-08

    Nothing wrong with Huron gruds, I’ll show you a finger if you wish. Kristi needs a new plane. She will be flying all over the country in her run for the prez. Come on So Daks, give her what she needs.

  3. DaveFN 2020-12-08

    Does SD law allow her to take a State plane to Trump rallies and to Texas rodeos? If so, how is this justified under SDCL?

    Fareed Zakaria noted this past Sunday the following. We might consider implementing similar roadblocks within SD?

    “We Need A Set of Post-Trump Reforms to Prevent His Excesses from Ever Happening Again

    “It’s much too soon to be thinking about a post-Trump America. Donald Trump remains the most popular figure among Republicans and he will continue to play a huge role in American politics in the years to come. But it is not too soon to begin thinking about a post-Trump democracy. An American political system that learns from the challenges and threats it has endured over the last four years.

    To those who think this concern is overblown, that America has proved resilient, I would simply say look out the window. Even now the president of the United States is attempting to use the powers of his office and public platform to overturn the results of an election. Happily, Trump’s efforts have not borne fruit. The courts have refused to bend the rules. Even Republican-appointed judges have followed the law rather than their political party of choice.

    Local officials did their job. All off this is encouraging. Even so, the past month has exposed fundamental weaknesses in America’s electoral system. American elections are mostly run not by apolitical federal officials, but rather by local politicians, elected or appointed, representatives of both parties monitor elections and must collectively sign off on them. The system has worked because both sides have upheld their duty to certify election results that were free and fair no matter the winner.

    But in this election the Republican Party, the president, the party’s national chair, key senators and state party bosses put unrelenting pressure on these local officials to delay or reject the routine certification of results. In Georgia, the state’s two current Republican senators called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign simply because he affirmed the truth, that the state’s vote was free and fair.

    In Michigan, which Biden won by 150,000 votes, Republican Party officials hounded the two Republicans on the four-person Board of Canvassers that certifies results. In the face of this assault one of the two folded, it was only because the other Republican, the 40-year- old Aaron Van Langevelde, stood his ground that Michigan’s results were certified. And remember the story is not over yet.

    In all likelihood, Donald Trump will keep up his attack on those Republican officials and the key swing states who refuse to do his bidding. If Raffensperger and Van Langevelde are drummed out of politics, the message to Republican officials in the next close election will be clear. Put party over country or you can say good-bye to your career. The next set of local officials might prove to be less honorable. So might a younger and more partisan batch of judges.

    America’s election arrangements are rooted in a venerable Anglo-Saxon system in which citizens or private groups are periodically called upon to perform official functions. The Anglo-Saxon approach contrasts with the French continental system in which the state has more control.

    [10:05:03] But this Anglo-Saxon system depends on the idea that citizens will place the public interest ahead of their private interest. Donald Trump has put that assumption to the test, plunging our democracy into crisis. We need a set of post-Trump reforms to bolster American democracy. Independent non-partisan boards should be established to manage elections rather than partisan officials.

    Standardized rules should be set about voter registration, mail-in voting, ballot challenges and the reporting of results. We also need a broader set of reforms that draw on the experience of the Trump years, once that codify into law what have been traditions and norms and practices. Candidates should have to disclose their tax returns so that the public can be aware of any potential conflicts of interest.

    Winners must be required to place any of their businesses or assets into genuine blind trusts. Additionally, we can now see that the lag between the election and inauguration is much too long. Far longer than most other countries where it’s often a day or two. The incumbent enjoys far too much power during this transition period. The Trump administration has made the dangers clear by initially withholding funds for the transition and refusing to provide intelligence briefings to Biden.

    Laws should be written to ensure a smooth transition and minimize the possibility that the outgoing president can act to enhance his personal fortunes or cripple his successor. By assaulting American democracy in so many ways, Donald Trump has shunned a light on its weaknesses. We should seize this moment to strength our institutions. That way, if another Trump-like politician, for example, Donald Trump himself in four years, tries to pervert the system again, American democracy this time will be better equipped to withstand it.”

    Fareed Zakaria, GPS, 6 Dec 2020

  4. John Dale 2020-12-09

    Very glad our state didn’t get shut down, but also wary of back channels through municipalities to achieve a de facto logical shut down.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-12-09

    John, the real “back channel” action we should be watching is the dealing Kristi Noem is doing to make it easier to ignore her sworn duties: private video studio, new cushy plane, drafting of state employees to provide security on out-of-state campaign trips that she doesn’t announce or detail….

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-12-09

    Dave, quite simply, the state plane must be used for state business. If Kristi can work in some official activity with her campaign trips, she can make a case for using the plane. But it’s hard for us to hold her accountable when she doesn’t release a schedule of her activities or let us see how things are being paid for. We need accountability: no new plane until she opens up her flight schedule and the checkbook to show how she pays for all of her trips and the state troopers she drafts as bodyguards out of state.

  7. Whitless 2020-12-09

    What type of plane does Queen Kristi desire? (A twin engine is pictured in her presentation slide.) For 5 million plus two aircraft to boot, you can buy a nice small jet. Or is she looking for a luxurious turbo prop? After traipsing across the country on her self promotion tour, is Kristi suffering from plane envy? How does she plan to use it? For intrastate travel, a reliable turboprop will get you on and off all types of South Dakota airstrips and is much cheaper to maintain than a jet. Heck, it will even get you to out of state destinations, albeit less slowly than a jet. With thousands of South Dakotans suffering, bridges and roads in need of repair, and other significant needs, this request from frequently absent Kristi needs to be closely examined.

  8. Loren 2020-12-09

    LOL! Kristi wants to buy a new plane in the name of safety 27 YEARS after the incident that killed our dignitaries? To me, that is 27 years of safe flying! Why don’t we just sell the fleet of planes and buy Kristi a new F-150 with one o’ em big ol’ hi-rise kits and fat tores if all she is going to do is show up at rodeos. Bonus: She’d be able to pull the horse trailer and it would also be more appropriate when she starts showing up at NASCAR races and monster truck rallies in her run for the GOP nomination in 2024. GeezLouisefercryinoutlowd!

  9. Jenny 2020-12-09

    I’m not against new planes but while she is at it, why not build a couple new schools or give out some teacher bonuses this year? Teachers had an extremely stressful time this year with moving to hybrid/online long distance learning.
    A 19 million dollar cattle barn could build a beautiful new school instead. Me, me, me always about me with SDs Covid Kristi.

  10. Bob Newland 2020-12-09

    Here’s a hand for you, grudzfeke, you POS. ••|••

  11. P Meyer 2020-12-09

    Yes, a new “middle” pony and a F150… that’s all she needs! That might keep her within the state lines where she has to face “State of SD issues” which she was elected to accomplish! A new cushy plane would give her far too much freedom to escape and campaign, campaign… looks like she might just campaign herself out of a job if she keeps up on her present road. No big loss, eh? How about her idol (Mr. t)… fund her a new pair of wings? He’s so flush………

  12. o 2020-12-09

    Mr. Dale, is your joy that SD has never shut down shared by the families of the 1,111 who have died and the 87,038 who have been infected? I am glad you (plural) enjoyed “freedom” to spread infections.

  13. mike from iowa 2020-12-09

    If noem nothing wants to put drumpf on Rushmore, what could be more appropriate than a harrier jump jet? Vertical take-offs and landings and on landing blows all the debris away so she wouldn’t get her new boots dusty.

  14. Jeff Stanley 2020-12-09

    $5 million and selling two aircraft those numbers don’t really add up even for a new King Air 350I or 350ER. I’d sell all three buy this 2018 King Air 350I $4.82 million and then get a new backup like this 2011 King Air 350I for $3.1 million and you’ll have a lot newer/nicer and reliable set of aircraft for less than what Kristi is proposing.

  15. Yeabut 2020-12-10

    Since the middle of November, Mundwiler Funeral home of Milbank has listed 29 obits.

    Wonder how many are COVID-19 related? According to some people, it should be none because the election is over.

    Oh, wait, many republicans are saying that the presidential election has not been decided yet .

    My mistake.

  16. Porter Lansing 2021-02-15

    My friend’s Mom died from Covid in a Madison nursing home. Some “not shut down” jabroni brought in “The ‘Rona”, negligently.
    Her death certificate said nothing of the virus. It listed her cause of death as respiratory failure.
    Do you as a group realize that the Covid death statistics in SD aren’t accurate? South Dakota is undercounting for political posturing by Governor Noem.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-02-15

    Porter, how will we ever get an accurate count? Can we rely on any sources other than the authorities to produce a fuller tally?

Comments are closed.