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Minnesota's Isle Airport remains open for businessMinnesota's Isle Airport remains open for business

The aviation community in Isle, Minnesota, is breathing a sigh of relief as pilots, advocacy groups, and local business owners applaud a June 9 vote by the city to keep their beloved airport open.

Isle Airport is home to the Isle Airport Association, an active flying club of almost 200 members. Photo courtesy of Dave Retka, Isle Airport Association.

For several months, the future of the 2,500-foot grass strip at Mille Lacs Lake remained uncertain as the city faced pressure to act on an easement to clear overgrown trees at the approach end of the runway.

On March 4, AOPA hosted a town hall that drew more than 70 attendees including city leaders, business owners, residents, and pilots to discuss the airport’s fate and the essential role it plays in the community. In 2019, a survey showed more than $51,000 was spent on local businesses in Isle by pilots using the airport. Convincing the city of Isle Airport's value to the local economy was an uphill battle, but after much deliberation, the council’s tune changed.

Although the announcement to keep Isle Airport open is a win for the Isle Airport Association and its 200-plus members, it comes with a few caveats. Originally, the goal was to make the airport public use, but challenges with zoning and the removal of residences near the airport turned the council off to the idea.

The council agreed that the airport will remain publicly owned by the City of Isle, leased to the Isle Airport Association, staying in private use.

Additionally, the Isle Airport Association will be financially responsible for removing the trees and replacing them with decorative shrubbery as requested by the property owners starting in late fall or early winter due to wet conditions in the area. Isle Airport will remain open during the summer.

“Airports like Isle are irreplaceable, and we are pleased to see that the city council was able to see the value in keeping this airport open,” said AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Kyle Lewis. “A big thanks to leaders from the Recreational Aviation Foundation and the Minnesota Pilots Association for their efforts in preserving aviation in the state.”

Amelia Walsh

Communications Coordinator
AOPA Communications Coordinator Amelia Walsh joined AOPA in 2017. Named after the famous aviatrix, she comes from a family of pilots and is currently working on her pilot certificate.
Topics: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy, Airport

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