January 19, 2012
By Dan Namowitz
There’s no place like Alaska for celebrating winter recreation in the great outdoors—and aviation supporters have opened discussions with officials about a future role for aircraft in a popular annual event known for all kinds of fun from dog sledding to log sawing.
AOPA and the Willow Airport Support Group expressed optimism that talks to be held with the FAA and state transportation officials would open a path for pilots to participate in future Willow Winter Carnivals, an annual event held on back-to-back weekends at the end of January and the beginning of February. This year’s event will be the fifty-first running of the carnival.
Pilots should be aware, however, that aviation does not yet play a direct role in the event, during which the Willow Lake Seaplane Base (2X2) is expected to be unavailable this year. Pilots should check for an expected notam detailing restrictions during the carnival, said AOPA Alaska Regional Manager Tom George.
Flights may still be able to use nearby Willow Airport (identifiers UUO or PAUO), said George, but pilots planning flights to the area should check notams often and be thoroughly familiar with published requirements and effective times.
A positive impact of the effort by local and statewide aviation groups, including Airport Support Network volunteer Jane Dale, to advocate for an aviation role has been success in engaging state transportation officials on the question of “how a community group like this should approach the airport sponsor” to participate in special events, George said.
The talks are expected to produce “guidance along those lines which presently doesn’t exist” about how to plan a community event in the future, he said.
Highlights of the Willow Winter Carnival, set for Jan. 27 to 29 and Feb. 4 and5, include “dog sledding, skijoring and cross-country ski races, as well as zany Alaska competitions such as outhouse races, log sawing and ax throwing. Indoor games, kids activities, a talent (or not) show and live entertainment draw festival-goers indoors for a quick warm up,” said an online description of the event.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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