Norman Midboe was born in 1922 in Northwood, North Dakota, to Sander and Nettie (Johnson) Midboe. He first became interested in aeronautics at about age ten when numerous aircraft landed in his community carrying mourners for the memorial service of aviation pioneer Carl Ben Eielson (a native of nearby Hatton). Midboe graduated from Northwood High School in May 1940. In 1941, he received pilot training at the Grand Forks Airport and was hired shortly thereafter by the airport as Assistant Airport Manager. During World War II, he served as an airport clearance officer charged with ensuring aviation security, as well as an instructor pilot for the Army Air Force's wartime pilot training program in Grand Forks. Midboe was inducted into the Army Air Force Cadets September 1, 1944. He began his advanced flight training in Alabama in August 1945, only days before the end of the war.
Midboe returned to Grand Forks and to his position as Assistant Airport Manager. He was promoted to Airport Manager in January 1961. Following a restructuring of positions, Midboe became the Airport Business Manager in November 1975. He continued in this position until his retirement in January 1984. On December 8, 1943, Norman Midboe married Fay Leino, at that time the operator of the Airport Café. The couple had one daughter, Beverly. Fay passed away October 14, 2000, while Norman died June 24, 2015. Both are buried in Memorial Park South in Grand Forks.
The Norman Midboe Papers consist of materials documenting the history of airports in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Included are two scrapbooks - one brown and one white - which contain newspaper clippings (primarily from the Grand Forks Herald), photographs, and assorted certificates and letters relating to the history of the new Grand Forks International Airport from its inception ca. 1960 up to the mid-eighties. The first ("Brown") scrapbook covers the period spanning September 29, 1959 to September 22, 1968, and numbers 213 pages. Items of particular interest include coverage of the local politics and the funding controversy surrounding the construction of the new airport, photographs and written descriptions of the construction process, as well as the day to day goings-on, including the airport's dealings with Northwest Airlines. The second ("White") scrapbook picks up on September 24, 1968, and carries through until June 14, 1985. This book contains 180 pages and is slightly larger than the first one. Unique items in this volume include a letter of appreciation to Midboe from President Richard Nixon, aerial photographs of the local area, as well as cards and letters received by Midboe on the occasion of his retirement.
Another item, a speech by Midboe entitled "Airport History: Old Grand Forks International Airport", was delivered at the Grand Forks Aviator's Pioneer Banquet on February 28, 1976. Beginning with its origin sometime in the 1920s as a "cow pasture type airport", Midboe briefly traces the evolution of Grand Forks International up to the early sixties when existing infrastructure proved inadequate to handle heavy modern airliners, and the city government constructed a new airfield west of Grand Forks. Key areas of focus within the speech include airport facilities, individuals affiliated with the airport during its formative period, the connection between Northwest Airlines and the Grand Forks community, and the role the airport played in training pilots for the Army Air Force during World War II. Midboe also touches on the role the airport played within the local economy as a base for crop-dusters and as a designated entry point for aircraft arriving from Canada.
Lastly, the collection also includes a folder containing sixteen photographs - one original and fifteen stored electronically on a compact disc. These pictures showing scenes from the airport's history consist mainly of group portraits and aerial photographs of the Grand Forks area. Of special interest are some photos relating to the military pilot training program based at the Grand Forks airport during World War II.