Winter got you down? Our good friend Mark Priglmeier of EAA Chapter 551 in Minnesota says winter provides some “wonderful flying opportunities.” He shares some of his flying adventures from his week-long vacation:
I spent most of my vacation time at my folk’s lake located in Aitkin, Minnesota. I plowed myself a nice ice runway (with the help of my brother Bill and his four wheeler — Thanks Bill!) and from there ventured off to other lakes around the Aitkin and Mille Lacs Lake area. Flying into Eddy’s Resort on Mille Lacs Lake is still one of my favorite places to go. The “Sinker” breakfast…great value. Great people. Great place. Best of all, Eddy’s is aviation friendly. They thoroughly enjoy seeing planes land on their ice roads that they plow for the fisher people. There is even a parking area!
Here is a hint: Go on up (or down) there, rent a fish house, make a weekend of it. And if fish houses are not your thing, there is a hotel right there! As always, courtesy to vehicles and people go a long way. (Careful for those fish houses and snow banks!)
I made a touchdown at Hanging Kettle Lake (pictured above) located just South of Aitkin, Minnesota, and noticed a fish house with a Lions sign attached to the side. Nice, big setup. Come to find out the Aitkin Lions provides this fish house, fully furnished with everything a person needs to fish in comfort, all for the local seniors to use…FREE of charge! They even provide the bait! This is one a spectacular idea. (I understand there is one in McGregor, Minnesota, as well) Pretty cool. Absolutely honorable service being provided.
Last but not least, yesterday’s adventures took me to Tower, Minnesota, then off to Ely with a scenic landing on Lake Shagawa. Lake Shagawa is the home to the US Forest Service Ely Seaplane Base. This time of year they are running three Beavers on skis.
You want awesome? This is truly that. In the summer, they run straight floats. What a great group of wonderful fellas there. Stop in, they will be glad to give you a tour. Can’t make it to Ely you say? Check out the YouTube video
From Ely it was off to Superior, Wisconsin, (SUW) for nice lunch buffet at the Upper Deck Restaurant. I love this place. There is actually a taxiway leading right up to the restaurant. If you have never been there, give it a shot. It is so convenient, it’s like pulling the car over at a local roadside restaurant. You may start seeing the Upper Deck Restaurant being advertised in up and coming aviation publications from what I have been told.
Finally…home. I sure wish I could spend more time “up there” in the air than on the ground. But, coming down is a requirement. So if you have to come down, why not come down where there is an adventure just waiting to be discovered? Fly while you can, I tell ya. Explore all you can. See all you can. Why? Because you still can!
Educate yourself before venturing out on the ice with your bird. Be sharp on your spot, short and soft field landings. Remember, braking can be NIL, so plan accordingly. Better yet, plan that you have no braking available.
Always scout your landing area first (preferably by foot). Use that headwind to your advantage. This really opens up a wonderful segment of flying. You have a hot rod, fast landing plane? Probably best to be safe and stick to the asphalt runways unless you have done your due diligence. Calculate the risk. If it don’t feel right, it’s probably not.
Winter, I must say, is one of the most spectacular times to fly. The air is so smooth and the airplane performs so much better. I guarantee you, your passengers will thank you for the splendid winter experience!
Dress up, get out. Aviate.