A commercial air taxi lands on the new airstrip near Childs Glacier on Sunday, July 23, 2023. Photo by Kinsey Brown for The Cordova Times

Earlier this month the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) and Public Facilities’ Aviation Program received the highly coveted Most Innovative State Program Award by the National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO). 

The award recognizes Alaska’s achievements and initiatives in the field of aviation. The award represents acknowledgement of the state’s innovation and commitment in the areas of safety, technology, and operational efficiency. 

One project the award was received for was Alaska’s Avalanche Program.  

Ryan Marlow and Tim Glasset — both with the DOT — partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration to integrate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the Avalanche Program, which enhanced safety. The initiative also received approval to carry concussive devices onboard UAS platforms, develop a fully autonomous self-recharging UAS platform that can be deployed and controlled from anywhere in the state, and use UAS imagery to create accurate snow-depth modeling. 

“It’s a privilege for Alaska to receive the Most Innovative State Program Award from NASAO,” said Katherine Keith, deputy commissioner of the DOT, in a statement. “This award underscores our team’s commitment to modernizing our transportation system.”  

The DOT oversees 237 airports, nine ferries serving 35 communities, more than 5,600 miles of highway, and 839 public facilities throughout the state. 


“By harnessing technology and forging strong partnerships, we’re enhancing aviation safety, efficiency, and sustainability throughout Alaska, which in turn propels advancements in aviation nationwide,” said Keith. 

NASAO is a national organization focused on advancing aviation in the United States.