On August 21, Air Force Captain Erick Handegard will fly a T-6 turbojet from the Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi to Fargo in time for the Fargo AirSho, scheduled at Hector Airport on August 22-23. Handegard, a 1996 West Fargo High School graduate, will be one of two Air Force T-6 instructor pilots stationed on the grounds during the two-day event to talk about the T-6 turbojet and its capabilities.
Handegard is the son of Kyle and Russ Handegard of West Fargo. He is married to Tara (Buckman), who also graduated from West Fargo with the class of 1996. They have a one-year-old daughter named Halle, and live in West Point, Miss., about 10-15 minutes from the Columbus Air Force Base.
After graduating from WFHS, Handegard went on to receive a degree in zoology from North Dakota State University in 2000, and a master's degree in microbiology from NDSU in 2003. While he was working on his master's degree, he also took lessons to earn his private pilot license.
He worked at Curtis Construction as a job supervisor until January of 2005, when he was accepted into Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. Handegard was commissioned as Second Lieutenant on his 27th birthday on April 1, 2005, and was assigned to Columbus Air Force Base for flight training, initially receiving training on a T-37B Tweet.
After graduating with an academic award, and receiving his wings on July 21, 2006, Handegard was assigned to remain at Columbus AFB as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot for the T-37B. He is currently assigned as an instructor pilot for the T-6.
Handegard was promoted to First Lieutenant on his 29th birthday on April 1, 2007, and became a U.S. Air Force Captain on his 31st birthday last spring.
He is excited about having the opportunity to come back to Fargo for the Fargo AirSho. He hopes to be assigned to a B-1 at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, S.D. or Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota for his next assignment to allow him to be closer to home. However, whichever plane model he is assigned to will determine which base he will be sent to.