Every Friday at lunchtime, Central County Airport, located 135 miles northeast of Madison, Wis., hosts a fly-in, rain, snow or shine. The lunch is open to anyone who pays a one-time $10 lifetime membership fee. The meal costs $8 and raises money for the airport. Summer fly-ins often see some 200 guests, but throughout winter, aircraft equipped with skis will continue to land on the snow-covered grass runway.
Bob Swenson was one of some 6,000 glider pilots who flew during World War II. The aircraft he piloted was nicknamed "The Flying Coffin" because it carried 15 soldiers on a one-way trip into a combat zone. Now 90, Swenson finally received a Bronze Star for bravery in action on Mar. 24, 1945, when he flew troops into Wesel, Germany, during Operation Varsity. Because of a shortage of infantrymen, Swenson was given a machine gun to use upon landing.
The Gelvin Airstrip, one of only two remote landing areas offering access to the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in Alaska, has been permanently closed after extreme weather created dangerous conditions. Preserve employees would normally travel to the airstrip to perform basic maintenance to make it safe enough for pilots to land, but like other National Park Service facilities, they have been hit by federal budget cuts. "We're just doing the best we can with what we have, and right now we don't have a lot," said ranger Pat Sanders.
After a new law was passed by the General Assembly of Virginia prohibiting banning landings by non-commercial helicopters, the Williamsburg City Council plans to hold a public hearing on Dec. 13 about where helicopters will be allowed to land. Private helicopter landings were previously unheard of in Williamsburg, but a new ordinance will allow single helicopter landings in specified areas.