Alton Bay’s Icy Airfield

Ice attracts airplanes to Alton Bay in the winter.  The rest of the year, this is open water.

Ice attracts airplanes to Alton Bay in the winter. The rest of the year, this is open water.

If the weather is right, from mid January to mid March, Alton Bay becomes an icy airfield. Small planes come and go constantly to take in the views of the snow covered region and the challenge of landing on the only FAA approved ice runway in the contiguous United States. The American Flag atop an icebound bandstand in the center of the harbor acts as the local windsock, and the unique atmosphere harkens back to the early days of flying

During the summer, there is a Seaplane base that operates here, and summer is always hinted at as water bubbles up between the almost icebound docks lining the shores. Rather than bring the docks in, tubes are under the docks pumping air up to bubble just enough to keep ice from forming which would rip the docks to shreds during the eventual spring thaw.

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