Twin Cities-based Air Tour
By Ashley Stewart of the Owatonna People’s Press
Nearly 40 single-engine airplanes landed at Owatonna Degner Regional Airport late Saturday morning as part of the annual Flying Cloud Air Tour.
The tour — in its 13th year — is the brain child of Ben McKillan, who has been a professional pilot since 2001.
“It’s just something fun to do as a group of pilots, and it’s an opportunity to show them all the neat places they can go [with their planes],” he said.
McKillan started the air tour in 2004 while he was working as a flight instructor at Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie to get people out and flying with stops in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The first tour involved stops in East Gull Lake and Duluth as well as Madeline Island and Cable Union in Wisconsin.
“We started with 10 people, students I had, and within three or four years, it had grown,” he said.
Since then, the tour has included stops at Breezy Point, Voyager Village, Granite Falls, Winona, Faribault and Springfield and drawn an average of 30 aircraft and 80 people each year with the exception of weather cancellations in 2006, 2007 and 2011, McKillan said.
Read the full story at the Owatonna People’s Press website.
Airport Commission: New Business Coming in for Landing
By Spenser Bickett of the Brainerd Dispatch
Seconds count when it comes to transporting patients via aircraft from a crash or a hospital to much-needed medical care.
A company with plans to locate at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport hopes its presence will help lower those response times.
Thursday, Kolby Kolbet, vice president of clinical services with Life Link III, told the Airport Commission the aviation medical transport company is expanding and wants to put a base at the airport.
Life Link III recently determined the Brainerd lakes area needed another medical aircraft provider, Kolbet said, despite the presence of North Memorial Air Care at the airport. Crow Wing County is growing rapidly, he said, and also has a rapidly aging population.
The Bemidji Regional Airport has two air medical transport companies, Kolbet said, so Life Link III and North Memorial Air Care will be able to coexist in Brainerd. Mike Arnold, who works as a first responder in the area, said it’s common to respond to an accident in the Aitkin area and not be able to get North Memorial Air Care to respond, because the aircraft is out on another call.
“As someone that uses the service, I don’t see a problem having two helicopters in the area,” Arnold said.
The company wants to have a base up and running by May, Kolbet said, but would be ready to operate as soon as February if a suitable building is found. The base will employ five full-time nurses, five full-time paramedics, four full-time pilots and two full-time mechanics, for a total of 16 employees.
Read the full story at the Brainerd Dispatch website.
By: Dan Determan of the Pine Lakes Echo Journal
Residents and visitors attended the Breezy Point Airport’s annual Aviation Days celebration on Saturday, May 7.
Dozens of airplanes and a North Memorial helicopter landed at the airport for the crowd and were parked for display purposes. Many of them departed and landed and put on a show for the anticipated 1,000 people in attendance.
In addition, a car show of more than 60 vehicles was on location, and food was served for the crowd at no charge. Prizes were awarded to the top plane and top car.
See more photos and read the full story at the Pine Lakes Echo Journal website.
Mathisen Flies Restored 1954 Beaver
By: Steve Kohls of the Brainerd Dispatch
Mark Mathisen considers himself a lucky man. His dad was a flight instructor and his mom was very supportive of his flying. He soloed in 1966 and received his private license when he was 16, certified on both wheels and floats. That was the beginning of a 45-year career that included a 17-year stint in Alaska as a bush pilot.
The love of flying and flight instruction has taken him to Asia, Europe and Australia, where he taught fire tanker pilots. He has done checkouts in turbine float planes in the Maldive Islands, Europe, China and Canada.
Recently, Mathisen finished checking out a group of Japanese pilots in the Quest Kodiak on carbon fiber Aerocet floats.
With over 14,000 hours of float flying, the new breed of float planes like the Quest Kodiak have out performed and are replacing traditional radial engine planes like the de Havilland Beaver.
Read the rest of this article at the Brainerd Dispatch website.
Airport Manager Keeps Eye on Sky
By: Dan Determan of the PineandLakes Echo Journal
The Breezy Point Airport has been at the city’s center since the early 1920s, but for the last 14 years it has thrived, thanks in part to airport manager Cliff Muller.
The Roseville native moved to the area in 2001 after retiring from careers as a carpenter and restaurant owner, which gave him more time to focus on his passion for flying.
“There was something about the magic of flying way back when I was a kid,” Muller said. “I think we all ran around with our arms out, jumping off of things. I think it is something in human nature where we are drawn to water and we like the excitement of flying.”
His fascination with flight continued when he served in Vietnam as an airborne infantryman.
“I was one of the guys that jumped out (of airplanes),” he said.
Shortly after returning home from Vietnam, Muller earned his pilot’s license.
Now he lives in a repurposed airplane hangar on Airport Drive in Breezy Point. Doing so allows him to be a staircase away from his work, which includes a 1941 Stinson 10A single-engine plane that he spent five years rebuilding in his free time.
Read the rest of this article at the PineandLakes Echo Journal website.
Members Attend National Championship Air Races
For the past seven years, multiple members of Breezy Point Airport have traveled to Reno, Nevada for the National Championship Air Races as members of the Sawbones Maximum Air Racing team. The team has done well over the years placing 7th in the 2013 gold heat and 4th in the 2014 gold heat. Over 100,000 fans come out each day of the races to watch the incredible pilots and aircraft race at low levels and high speeds around pylons.