Winter Fly-Ins Offer Outings for Ski-Plane Pilots

Pilots looking to stay active during winter can find numerous fly-ins and other events at airports across the country.

Flying during the winter has its challenges, like properly preheating engines, clearing snow and ice from runways, and adding “frost removal” to your list of preflight tasks. Overall, though, this is a great time of year to fly. Aircraft engines tend to perform well in the cold air, the scenery is beautiful, and it is easier to land and find parking at airports whose ramps might be crowded all summer.

While winter might be a quiet time for general aviation in some areas, there are still events designed to make the most of the snowy season. Numerous airports host fly-ins for skiplanes, giving owners of these typically vintage aircraft a reason to show them off while demonstrating the special skills needed for ski flying.

Fly-ins and other aviation events for pilots and their families continue across the country throughout the winter. Often they are small, low-key affairs compared with similar summer events. Whether you fly on skis or wheels, around the snow belt or in regions with milder weather, there probably are events scheduled nearby. Check in with local airport managers and flying clubs to find out what is happening and when. Below are a few winter aviation gatherings worth considering. 

Frostbite Chili Fly-In

Canton Mettetal Airport (1D2)

Canton, Michigan

February 4, 2023

The airport is home to EAA Chapter 113, known as the Backyard Eagles and founded there in 1961. The hosts invite attendees to “bring a pot of your favorite chili to share or try one of ours.” There are hot dogs and beverages available for a donation. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside the EAA 113 Aviation Center, rain, snow, or shine. For more information, contact Dave Steiner, 734-392-8113, http://www.eaa113.org

Bowman Field 13th Annual Ski-Plane Fly-In

Bowman Field Airport (B10)

Livermore Falls, Maine

February 11, 2023

Ski planes are a traditional way to get around in Maine during the winter, especially as you make your way to the northern part of the state. Numerous taildraggers and ultralights frequent this 2,200-foot turf strip, and the traffic picks up for the fly-in, which is known for the potluck lunch put on by the Bowman Field Flying Club members. The menu includes an “assortment of chilies, chowders, desserts and other homemade goodies.” The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

EAA Winter Flight Fest

Pioneer Airport (WS17)

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

February 11, 2023

Wisconsin winters are an ideal backdrop for flying on skis, and this annual gathering at Pioneer Airport, a 1930s-style strip on the edge of Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH), reminds pilots that there are reasons to visit Oshkosh year- round. Visitors can check out a number of hands-on activities at the EAA Aviation Museum, take part in model-airplane building contests and enjoy complimentary chili. Of course the highlight is watching pilots arrive in their ski-equipped aircraft.

SkiPlane and Wheel Fly-In

Aitkin Municipal Airport – Steve Kurtz Field (KAIT)

Aitkin, Minnesota

March 18, 2023

Chili definitely is a common theme among pilots during the winter, and this fly-in adds hot dogs to the mix. EAA Chapter 965, the Aitkin Flyers, sponsors the event. The airport has a 3,123-foot turf strip that is reserved for ski-equipped aircraft from November through April and a 4,000-foot asphalt runway for visitors arriving in aircraft with wheels. For more information, contact Trudi Amundson, trudiamundson@yahoo.com

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