The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) has opened Two Hearted Airstrip (6Y5), a new recreational airstrip near where Ernest Hemingway’s “Big Two Hearted River” joins Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
A grand opening is slated for July 7, 2018, weather permitting.
The Two Hearted River is considered one of the top 10 U.S. trout streams, and there is a state campground near the airstrip, RAF officials report.
RAF Michigan Liaison Brad Frederick learned about an abandoned Civilian Conservation Corps airstrip in the Lake Superior State Forest from officials at the Michigan Department of Aeronautics several years ago.
Frederick and his wife made the six-hour drive from their home in central Michigan to scout the area, what he calls “typical beautiful UP jack pine forest with some maple trees mixed in,” and he was convinced there was good reason to create a safe airstrip to more easily access this recreational gem where inland lakes teem with walleye and perch.
The couple toured Rainbow Lodge, the nearby State Forest campground, and the Chapel of the Two Heart, built by Rainbow Lodge owners Richard and Kathy Robinson.
The old CCC airstrip is adjacent to the Rainbow Lodge property, and the idea to lease two parcels and make one longer and safer runway developed. Frederick contacted Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, and the plan was eventually approved.
Fire devastates the area
A late spring thunderstorm lightning strike in 2012 started the Duck Lake Fire, which scorched 30,000 acres. Most of the Rainbow Lodge buildings burned, as did many local cabins. Frederick drove back up to see “miles and miles of forest gone. Literally a blackened moonscape. We mutually decided to wait on the dream of a bigger, safer airstrip.”
Eventually, life made its way back in the Two Hearted area.
“Green trees were popping up at the feet of their scorched parents. The Rainbow Lodge was being rebuilt, the Robinsons still wanted to see the airstrip built, the DNR was still okay with the plan, and the RAF Board supported the project,” Frederick said.
The RAF approved a grant to fund half of the cost of extending the airstrip. It then challenged folks from across the country to donate the other half. The fundraiser was named “Have a Heart” and launched on Valentine’s Day 2017.
“In about 30 days we had the funds we needed,” Frederick said.
The contractor completed his work, and the grass grew all summer. The State Aeronautics team, lead by Randy Coller, showed up with transit and yellow cones to lay out the new runway before snow covered the area.
“Winters are long in this area, but Spring 2018 arrived, and it’s now time to open Michigan’s newest public use airport to all who love recreational aviation. Come visit!” Frederick said.
Flying to Two Hearted airstrip
Two Hearted airstrip (6Y5) is 20 miles north of Newberry, Michigan, and Luce County Airport (KERY), which has 100LL and Jet A.
Two Hearted is now 2,200′ x 75′. After more work is done on the west end, the strip will be 2,400′ long. It has clear approaches on both ends thanks to the 2012 fire.
“It’s not a pool table to land on, but it’s not just for tail draggers. It was lengthened with 172s and Cherokees in mind,” Frederick said.
Consider prop clearance, RAF officials advise. See the Safety Briefing at RAF.org.
CTAF at 6Y5 is 122.9
The closest aviation weather reporting (AWOS) is Newberry Luce County Airport (KERY). Phone is 906-293-2979; in the air it’s 119.525.
Two Hearted Airstrip Grand Opening
To celebrate this addition of another recreational destination, the RAF is hosting a Grand Opening July 7, weather permitting.
“Check weather and wind carefully,” Frederick advises. “Lake Superior has great influence over surface weather and aloft.”
Rainbow Lodge is open, and has rental cabins available.
“Come for the day or camp a night or two, overlooking Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water in North America,” Frederick says.
He adds that cell phone service is not reliable. “After all it’s in the ‘boonies’ of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Land of Hiawatha and Gitche Gumee,” he adds.
The Recreational Aviation Foundation is a nonprofit organization formed in 2003 to preserve, maintain and create airstrips for recreational access.