Flying Up In The “Big Sky”

by Yasmina Platt
Copyright 2021.  All rights reserved!
Published online Midwest Flyer Magazine – February/March 2020

In addition to flying over Glacier National Park (GNP) this summer, I also had a chance to fly around a good portion of Northwest Montana. As always, the objectives were to enjoy the area from the air and visit some cool airports. This was the route I followed, counterclockwise. Source: ForeFlight

In addition to flying over Glacier National Park (GNP) last summer, I also had a chance to fly around a good portion of northwest Montana. As always, the objectives were to enjoy the area from the air and visit some cool airports.

Leaving Kalispell

From Kalispell, we flew over Ashley Lake. Why? Because the water is as clear and beautiful as that of the Bahamas. While it does not look like much from the distance, its beauty really shows from above. So much that my husband, Jared, also saw the lake from his commercial flight when he was coming back from a work trip. So, we decided to visit it via ground as well.

From Kalispell, we flew over Ashley Lake. Why? Because its water is as clear and beautiful as that of the Bahamas. While it does not look like much from a distance, its beauty really shows from above. So much so that my husband, Jared, also saw the lake from his commercial flight when he was coming back from a work trip. So, we decided to visit it via ground as well.

 

 

And from one lake to another… from Ashley to Little Bitterroot before landing at Cabin Creek (97MT), the most challenging airport we found because of its interesting approach (considering we had to stick with paved runways per the rental aircraft’s rules). 97MT is a privately-owned, private-use airport, but thanks to my companion, Logan Hutchin, we were able to touch down.

Approaching 97MT’s Runway 20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the airstrip doesn’t have weather on the field, I opted for flying over to see what the windsock was indicating. This also gave me an opportunity to check out the terrain around it. Since it’s a Prior Permission Required (PPR) airport, they do not have to follow FAA design standards and, in fact, I could not see the Runway 20 markings until I was almost over them. There is a hill with a house directly under final approach, so I flew left of the centerline until I was passed it, before coming in for a full-stop landing. Because the wind was fairly light, I chose to takeoff in the opposite direction, avoiding the same house again.

The takeoff put us over the highway. I followed it to McGregor Lake and Thompson Lakes and, from there, to Libby (S59). The flight to Libby was very enjoyable and the airport was nice, but there wasn’t anything extremely special about it.

Troy (57S) was the next airport to visit and what a beautiful setting it is in! I basically followed the road, railroad track, and river to reach it.

We checked out Lake Koocanusa on our return leg. Its name comes from the damming of the Kootenay River (Koo) and the fact that it crosses the Canada/United States border.

Although Montana is known for its “Big Sky,” it could also be known for its “Friendly Sky.” Go visit Montana!

For more information about flying around northwest Montana, visit www.airtrails.weebly.com. Fly safe and fly often!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yasmina Platt has been with the international airport planning and development consulting firm AECOM since 2016. She also writes an aviation travel blog called “Air Trails” (www.airtrails.weebly.com), in addition to articles on pilot destinations for Midwest Flyer Magazine. Pilots can locate articles Yasmina has written by going to www.MidwestFlyer.com and typing her name in the search box.

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