Being a huge fan of Minnesota (born and raised, ya sure, you betcha) I’m pretty sure that Minnesota pilots are a special breed. As summer is just around the corner, I’ll be highlighting some Minnesota-type flying activities that you’re sure to find those Minnesota-inclined pilots heading too when the days get longer and warmer.
Your Saturdays Consist of Coffee, Donuts, & Safety
Let’s face it: safety should be our #1 focus in aviation. While we may not all practice what we preach, there’s a long-time tradition of mixing coffee, donuts, and safety all into a fun Saturday tradition in the Twin Cities area.
Several years ago, my old boss from Inflight Pilot Training, LLC, started weekly safety seminars at Flying Cloud Municipal Airport (KFCM) located in Eden Prairie, MN. What started out as a handful of seasoned pilots based on the field with donuts and coffee, this event blossomed into nearly 100 pilots every week attending seminars featuring various safety topics such as weather, medical issues, maintenance, new technology, and much more. Now, AirTrekNorth, a flight schovol started in Lakeville, MN, carries on the tradition in their KFCM location.
While you may have thousands of hours, or you’re just starting to fly, the FAA Safety Team (FAAST) has turned to a creative way to approach many safety topics affecting pilots today. They also have the WINGS program which allows you to get credit for the training you complete online with organizations such as AOPA and the FAA through training, such as the Saturday seminars.
After the seminar, you will find pilots milling about for hours talking flying (if the weather is bad), or they inevitably go to their own hangars and get their aircraft ready for a spin in the beautiful Minnesota weather.
You Fly to the North Shore
While Minnesota doesn’t have the ocean to boast of when referring to great scenic flights, we do have the North Shore – a.k.a., the shores of Lake Superior which is one of the largest, freshwater lakes in the country.
Flying to the North Shore in the summer can be a great way to beat the heat. Some great destinations include Duluth International Airport. Sky Harbor Airport (near downtown Duluth), Two Harbors, and many more. Many of these small, North Shore towns boast spectacular views of the lake including great restaurants to grab a bite to eat before heading back to the Twin Cities.
If you’re considering making a weekend out of it with family or friends, head to Duluth International Airport and find a rental car or courtesy car from the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO). There are several great hotels in downtown Duluth on the shore or further into the city. There’s an aquarium, museum, and much more to do in town.
Flying north of the Twin Cities to the North Shore gives you a great flight to experience Minnesota and is a great way to get your Minnesota flying friends together for a day – besides, building cross-country time is always a bonus.
You Go to the WOTN Air Expo Every Single Year
Another great aspect of Minnesota flying is the Wings of the North (WOTN) Air Expo held every year at KFCM. What started as a non-profit organization in the late ‘90s, designed to preserve and present aviation history, it has blossomed into a Twin Cities aviation fixture.
Their museum is located at KFCM and WOTN hosts the Air Expo every July featuring many aviation organizations in the community with sponsors from Sun Country Airlines, Minnesota Flyer magazine, UTC Aerospace Systems and more. WOTN also brings in many static displays from public and private collectors from all eras of aviation including World War I (WWI), WWII, and more.
This great family event is a fun way to connect with those in the community and meet other pilots from the area as they all come flocking to this annual event. It’s also a great way to support a local non-profit whose mission is to preserve aviation history.
Overall, Minnesota is really a great place to be a pilot. With all of the seminars, fly-ins, local airshows, cookouts, and destinations, it can be hard to find the time to actually get it all done! As a pilot, we’re always looking for new places to go, so start your wish list now for Minnesota and start checking those boxes off.
Remember, you only have so much summer to get it done! Happy flying!