You are hereJuly/August 2016

July/August 2016

Fly-ins and airshows are the hallmarks of summer in the aviation world, and we’ve got two of the best lined up for you in this issue. Fly in to one of America’s largest grass airstrips with a green carpet that rivals a golf course in beauty and smoothness. This amazing airstrip is a gift to aviators from a man who simply loves airplanes, big and small. We’ll also take you to central Oregon, home of an exceptional airshow and one of the world’s finest collections of World War II aircraft, almost all of which are airworthy. We round out this issue’s getaways with explorations of a New England mountain region and a Midwestern lake resort community.

Madras, Oregon

Madras, a small town in sunny central Oregon, just loves general aviation. Each year, the airport hosts the wildly popular Airshow of the Cascades. Participants include some of North America’s finest aerobatic demonstration pilots, each of whom puts on a completely different and unique performance. For example, one pilot performs a night aerobatic routine in a hang glider that glows and fires off pyrotechnics to boot. That’s impressive enough, but this pilot is paralyzed from the waist down. The Madras airport is also home to the Erickson Aircraft Collection, generally recognized as one of the top five warbird collections in the world. Many of them are unique aircraft or one of just a few left in the world. You can see these incredible aircraft in a new, purpose-built showroom hangar designed to showcase these beauties to best effect. A visit to a couple of beautiful state parks nearby can add to your getaway. One features a large reservoir with great fishing, especially for the otherwise-rare bull trout, which are common and especially huge here. The other park is one of America’s best places for rock climbing, with over 1,000 routes. Those same rock formations make hikes extra interesting.

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

About 50 miles from Milwaukee is the quiet town of Lake Geneva, which became a regional resort area after wealthy Chicago families built their summer “cottages” around its centerpiece Geneva Lake. The mansions still stand, and access to the entire lakeshore remains available to all visitors. Author Kristy Mackaben shares that you can fly in to the private airstrip at the Grand Geneva Resort, which originally opened in 1968 as Hugh Hefner’s first Playboy Club Hotel. You’ll have two beautiful golf courses to choose from, as well as a full-service resort spa and salon. Relax by the pool or spend time on the hiking and mountain biking trails. You can even sign up for a pastry class, a beer and Wisconsin cheese tasting, or a paint-and-sip class. Other resorts provide additional golf course options and even a waterpark. Area activities include horseback riding, hot air ballooning, zip lining, beer and wine tasting, and late summer and fall festivals, including a Venetian festival, antique and classic boat show, and Oktoberfest. Lake Geneva has an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafés and bars, from casual to elegant. Discover what the Wrigleys and other famous families knew back in the 19th century: Lake Geneva is a perfect Midwestern get-away-from-it-all vacation spot!

Franconia, New Hampshire

Franconia is a small town nestled on the less-crowded western side of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The area is popular with visitors in at least three seasons: summer hiking, fall leaf-peeping, and winter skiing. Author MeLinda Schnyder reveals Franconia Notch State Park offers abundant fishing, biking, boating, swimming, and wildlife-viewing opportunities. The grass airstrip is managed by the Franconia Soaring Club, so your adventure could begin with an exciting sailplane flight over the White Mountains as well as glider instruction. Then it’s on to Flume Gorge, an 800-foot-deep natural chasm, where you’ll walk alongside rushing waterfalls, giant boulders, and clear streams and pools. Take the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway up to the Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site and Museum, or check out the New England Ski Museum before you board the tram. And what’s a visit to New Hampshire without trying some authentic New England maple syrup? We’ll point you to the best restaurants and shops where you can indulge in this natural treat, and pick up a bottle to enjoy at home. For lodging, you need look no further than right across Franconia’s grass runway. A historic, Colonial-style inn, built in 1933, provides an elegant retreat and serves up some of the area’s best meals, all in a quiet and romantic atmosphere.

Triple Tree Aerodrome, South Carolina

A private grass airstrip in the western part of upstate South Carolina is home to one of America’s most incredible testaments to the love of general aviation, as well as remote-controlled (RC) airplanes. Triple-Tree Aerodrome is the brainchild of a local businessman who grew up in an aviation family and wanted to give others a beautiful place to “play.” At 7,000 feet long, Triple-Tree’s grass runway is one of the largest in the U.S. and its perfectly manicured Tifway 419 Bermuda grass makes it a wonder to behold. Author Christopher E. McClure, a pilot and architect, has visited several times during its signature fall event: The Triple-Tree Fly-In, held the week after Labor Day. Hundreds of pilots flying everything from a Piper Cub to a twin Cessna to a Douglas DC-3 fly in from across North America. Like Oshkosh, the popular event has specific fly-in procedures, a control tower, and the airstrip is marked with colored dots for pilots to land on, so that simultaneous approaches can be conducted. After you arrive, park, and set up your tent. You’ll want to meet other pilots, check out the interesting airplanes that have flown in, and make your way to the hangar, which houses several beautiful warbirds, including a T-6 and a P-51, that are often flown by a small cadre of dedicated volunteer pilots. You can enjoy great Southern barbeque, live entertainment, and give thanks for such a wonderful facility, built for the enjoyment of all pilots, by one generous benefactor and his wife, who just love airplanes.

Giant Arrows Across America – Reminders of Our Aviation History

As every pilot knows, flying is a great way to see our world from a different perspective. Often, you’ll see things you’d never even notice on the ground. Did you know that you can see pieces of U.S. postal aviation history all across America, so long as you know where to look? They are giant concrete arrows, clearly visible from a small airplane. Managing Editor Crista Worthy, while researching the Cedar City, Utah, article in our previous issue, noticed that some of the most visible of these arrows are easy to find if you are flying in to Cedar City from the southwest. What are these giant arrows? They are the remaining relics of America’s first “Air Mail” service. In the 19th century, as the West was settled, delivery of mail across the continent was sped up first via the Pony Express, which was soon replaced by the railroad. To speed things up even further, the U.S. government decided to employ pilots to fly mail across the country. But this was 1920, and the navigation tools we use now had not yet been invented. They didn’t have radar, LORAN, and even the charts weren’t that great, so they needed landmarks. The giant concrete arrows, augmented with rotating lighted beacons, literally pointed the way for pilots who flew various airmail routes across the country. This article has specific directions and lat/long coordinates so you can find the arrows that lead to Cedar City. We’ll also point you to a database of arrows and beacons around the U.S. What a fun excuse to get up in your airplane and go flying!