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Resorts with runways dot the Midwest, Eastern USResorts with runways dot the Midwest, Eastern US

For a pilot, what could be better than a world-class resort with its own private runway? Here are some of our favorites in the Midwest and Eastern United States.

  • Ben Thuringer, Madden’s on Gull Lake COO and Managing Director, does a steep turn in the Wings Over Water Super Cub, which is available for seaplane training. Pilots who visit Madden’s have three landing areas to choose from: on the lake in a seaplane, on the turf runway (visible in the background) adjacent to the resort, or at a nearby hard-surface airport, with free shuttle to the resort. Photo by Brad Thornberg.
  • At Madden’s on Gull Lake in central Minnesota, seaplanes can land on the lake, while landplanes have a choice of two airports. Photo courtesy Madden’s on Gull Lake.
  • With over 10,000 lakes, Minnesota is heaven for the seaplane pilot. Madden’s on Gull Lake is centrally-located in Minnesota. Photo by Brad Thornberg.
  • An aerial view of the Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and its golf course, lake, and runway. Photo courtesy Grand Geneva Resort.
  • Relaxing with friends and a mimosa at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa. Photo courtesy Grand Geneva Resort.
  • The family-friendly Timber Ridge Lodge, Grand Geneva’s sister property, has its own water park. Photo courtesy Grand Geneva Resort.
  • Nemacolin’s Chateau LaFayette is a fitting backdrop for this 1931 Pitcairn Mail Plane, part of Nemacolin's $45 Million Hardy Family Art Collection. The Chateau Lafayette is inspired by the famed Ritz Paris in France and features a grand reception lobby, Tea Room, Cigar Bar, Hardy and Hayes Jewelry Store, an upscale clothing boutique, and much-heralded restaurant Lautrec. The exclusive Chateau Club Level features butler service and a hospitality lounge with European-style breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails available daily. Photo courtesy Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
  • A golfer on the Mystic Rock Course at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Photo courtesy Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
  • Nemacolin’s Paradise Pool is a fun escape on hot summer days. Photo courtesy Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
  • Dog sledding at Nemacolin’s wildlife academy is an unforgettable experience for the entire family. Other winter sports include downhill and Nordic skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and tubing. Photo courtesy Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
  • The Ozarks provide great flightseeing opportunities for several CubCrafters pilots on their way in to Gaston’s White River Resort. Photo courtesy CubCrafters.
  • Each year, CubCrafters organizes a fly-in to the grass airstrip at Gaston’s White River Resort. Photo courtesy CubCrafters.
  • Gaston’s is the place for trophy trout fishing. Photo courtesy Gaston’s White River Resort.
  • Fishing beside a great blue heron at Gaston’s White River Resort. Photo courtesy Gaston’s White River Resort.
  • Fresh fried trout is a Gaston’s specialty. Photo courtesy CubCrafters.

Madden’s on Gull Lake, Minnesota: This central Minnesota resort has been in the Madden family for over 80 years. They built East Gull Lake Airport, a turf strip adjacent to the resort, in the late 1970s and then donated it to the city of East Gull Lake. If needed, instrument approaches are available at Brainerd, 10 nautical miles east, and the resort can pick you up from there. Madden’s owner and son are both pilots. Seaplanes are welcome to land on Gull Lake's 9,418 acres and tie up to the resort’s private pier. You can even get your seaplane rating here while you stay at the resort! Other lake activities include swimming, boating, fishing, and water skiing. Madden’s has three sand beaches on over a mile of shoreline. Recognized as one of America’s top golf resorts, Madden’s offers three distinctive golf courses. At the Tennis & Croquet Club you’ll find tennis courts, USCA-sanctioned croquet lawns, lawn bowling, sand volleyball, horseshoes, badminton, and shuffleboard. Madden’s also offers five swimming pools (two outdoor, three indoor) with whirlpools and saunas, a kid’s wading pool, hot tubs, a waterpark with trampolines and water toys, exercise facility, trapshooting, and a naturalist who will entertain and educate. Need a little pampering? Relax with a facial or massage in the spa and then enjoy a delicious meal in one of the eight onsite restaurants.

Whether you’re headed to the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for business or pleasure, you can enjoy the convenience of landing at their private airfield with 3,900-foot hard-surface runway. Photo courtesy Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.

Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, Wisconsin: If you’re headed to Oshkosh, Lake Geneva makes a convenient side trip. The resort offers a private 4,100-foot runway with complimentary overnight tiedowns and free shuttles. The airstrip is operated seasonally, typically opening in April of each year and closing for the winter. The luxurious resort, on 1,300 acres three miles from downtown Lake Geneva, offers two golf courses—the Brute course has one of the most challenging layouts in the Midwest. Indulge yourself at the spa and salon, relax by the pool, or hit the hiking and mountain biking trails. Grand Geneva’s sister property, Timber Ridge Lodge, is home to the Moose Mountain Falls water park. Timber Ridge also boasts horseback riding stables, a large arcade, and an all-suite hotel that provides rooms with kitchens and fireplaces.

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Pennsylvania: This family and luxury vacation destination on 2,000 wooded acres in the Laurel Highlands of southwestern Pennsylvania offers a private airstrip and a wellness spa for adults, a beauty salon, a day spa for youth and teens, and even a grooming spa for pets. The resort includes a farm, casino, sports center, two championship golf courses (the newest opening July 2017), an off-road driving academy, wild animal park, zip lines, and ropes course. Horseback riding, sporting clays, paintball, a climbing wall, fly fishing, winter sports, and luxury spa treatments also are available. Dine at the Forbes Five Star and AAA five-diamond Lautrec (one of only 29 worldwide so honored), which houses several of French artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s original works. The Chateau Lafayette’s Cigar Bar is a speakeasy right out of the 1920s, with a vast array of cigars available. The next night you can try Aqueous, the way-upscale steakhouse in the fabulous Falling Rock hotel. Both the restaurant and hotel are architecturally influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater structure, not far away in western Pennsylvania. At Falling Rock you’ll receive 24-hour butler service along with your marble bath, 200-gallon soaking tub, impeccably appointed room, and other luxuries.

Mary Alverson flies her straight-float-equipped Super Cub above Gull Lake. Earn your seaplane rating with Mary in the Super Cub or a Cessna 172 on amphibious floats while your family enjoys the Madden’s on Gull Lake resort. Photo by Brad Thornberg.

Gaston’s White River Resort, Arkansas: Fly in to Gaston’s perfectly manicured, 3,200-foot private turf airstrip to enjoy the best fishing (and fried trout or catfish) in the Ozarks. Gaston’s has been owned and operated by the Gaston family since 1958. They’re so pilot friendly that CubCrafters sometimes holds fly-ins at the resort. Fly in for lunch or stay awhile—the resort has 79 guest cottages and over 70 boats available, plus a top-tier fly-fishing school. A tennis court, game room, duck pond, swimming pool, nature trails, and award-winning restaurant guarantee a pleasing vacation for the entire family.

Crista Worthy

Crista V. Worthy

Crista V. Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. She has single-engine land and sea ratings. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association.
Topics: US Travel

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