By Sterling McGinn
A total of 21 airplanes landed at the Two Hearted River airstrip this past weekend, which marked the reopening of the 90-year-old airfield on the shore of Lake Superior.
“The farthest came from Miami—but they flew in from Oshkosh, Wisconsin,” said Rainbow Lodge owner Richard Robinson. “We had people from Escanaba and Marquette and the weather was good here.”
A small celebration was held on Saturday, August 26 while pilots were welcome to fly in throughout the day. Robinson said the last plane landed at 8 p.m. on Saturday, and many camped there overnight.
Volunteers from the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) have worked to improve the airstrip, located at Rainbow Lodge, for the last several years.
Work on the field began in 2012, when the RAF negotiated leases with the DNR and Rainbow Lodge to expand the field. This work was suspended due to the Duck Lake forest fire in 2012, which devastated that area.
The field was originally constructed as a 1,600-foot-long strip in 1933 by members of the Civilian Conservation Corps from Camp Newberry #1686 and has had intermittent use over the years.
The airstrip was eventually expanded to 2,200 feet long by 75 feet wide.
The expanded Two Hearted River airstrip was reopened in 2017 and was again closed due to the roughness of the field.
In October of 2021, the strip was closed to perform maintenance and rehabilitation. This work was performed by the RAF.
The RAF was started in 2003 to preserve, maintain and create airstrips for recreational access.
Robinson said they are hoping to have a similar event next year.