Our RAF mission is to preserve airstrips, and in New Hampshire we found an unusual one – the only FAA-approved ice runway in the lower 48.
When winter comes to New England, the seaplane base at Alton Bay, (B18) on Lake Winnepausakee starts to freeze. Local volunteers watch it closely for an ice thickness of 12 inches – the magic number that triggers contact with the NHDOT Aeronautical Division. This is normally late January or early February. Once NHDOT gives the green light, volunteers plow a 3,000-foot ice runway and adjoining taxiway and parking area. Using their own trucks, they are funded only for breakdowns and fuel. Items such as runway markers and signs are hand-me-downs from other airports. This is where the RAF and other organizations such as the New Hampshire Pilots Association stepped in. Amidst cuts in state funding, as RAF NH State Liaison, I applied for an RAF grant of $2,000 to partially fund the ice base. My application was approved. This year Paul LaRochelle heads up the volunteer team so the grant underwrites a large portion of his team’s expenses. Last weekend, I fired up the SuperCub and once again amended my bucket list to land at B18 on the ice.On February 20 we are planning an RAF Day on the ice and are seeking members from all over New England to attend. I will be proud to install a 3’ x 6’ sign with RAF Logo stating, “This Airstrip is Supported by The RAF”.
Submitted On February 8, 2017.