You've landed on pavement, you've landed on gravel, you've even landed on grass, but have you landed on solid ice yet? Now's your chance. Join us for our fourth annual meetup at Alton Bay (B18), the country's only FAA designated iceport. Because it is actually an airport (B18) and designed to FAA specifications, you should be covered under your insurance policy, but it would smart to call them to find out.
This is an NEPG favorite, and it is now open for the 2014 season! The runway is typically plowed to be 80 ft wide, providing more than enough space for a safe landing. I will post runway conditions here, so check back before you depart.
In previous years, we have sponsored a van ride from Laconia, NH (KLCI) for those who do not wish to land on the ice. If you are interested in this service, please answer the RSVP question accordingly and we will let you know if a van ride can be arranged this year.
LIVE STILL IMAGE from ALTON BAY!!
The airport itself is located ON the surface of the southern tip of Lake Winnipesaukee, 21.4nm to the northeast of Concord, NH. We have Paul LaRochelle, an Alton Bay non-pilot local, to thank for reviving the Alton Bay iceport. The former manager gave up on maintaining the iceport a several years back, but the locals discovered that they missed their winged friends, so Paul, a contractor that lives right along the shoreline, picked up the ball and now plows the runway and taxiway for us (uncompensated). Can you believe that it can take 8 hours to plow 16 inches of snow to form a 2400 ft x 80 ft runway with taxiiway?
Here is the previous itinerary for the 2013 Alton Bay Winter Carnival sponsored by the Alton Business Association and Alton Bay Parks & Rec Dept, we will update it with the 2014 Itinerary when it becomes available!
8:00am - 10:00am Pancake Breakfast at the Community Center (Old Train Depot)
10:00am - 3:00pm Snowmobile Demonstrations
10:00am - 3:30pm Helicopter Rides - C - R Helicopters
11:00am - 3:00pm Sleigh Rides ($5 per person)
1:00pm - 3:00pm DJ Music at the Bandstand;
1:30pm Family Scavenger Hunt- prizes awarded;
3:00pm Parade of Beds;
3:00pm - 3:30pm Great Alton Bay Bed Race (runway may remain open during this)
There is a crazy hat contest so bring or create the craziest hat you can imagine and win a prize. There's also a kid's ice fishing contest, bob-house decorating contest, pond hockey, and snowmobile parade.
I have been in touch with Paul LaRochelle, the airport manager and chief plow operator at the Alton Bay airport (B18). He is looking forward to having everyone come out for this year's winter carnival. Because conditions on the ice runway are prone to change, please keep in mind these important NOTAMS:
1) Before you depart, you should check this meetup page for any last minute changes and also phone the Alton Bay Iceport Hotline at[masked] for recorded NOTAMS from Paul. Paul will also post the NOTAMS with the FAA so that they be available through FSS as well. It is possible that the airport could close due to rough ice conditions, slush, or some other condition, so check before you leave! Please do not contact the Alton Bay Parks & Rec department. While they co-host the Winter Carnival, they have nothing to do with the ice runway.
2) Safety is the number one priority. Because we expect a lot of traffic, please be mindful of the traffic pattern . Also be alert to the possibility of constant helicopter traffic from C - R Helicopters. If they operate this year, they will be conducting rides primarily between 10:00am and 3:30pm. They would remain below 1300 feet MSL and will conduct their tours from to the west of the runway centerline. They may operate 1 or 2 Robinson R-44's on 6-10 minute loops. If so, they will be on CTAF 122.8 Mhz, so listen up for them. Their operations would commence 300 ft left of the runway 01 threshhold. Their tour would take passengers to the North over the lake, and then west over Mt. Major (about 2mi N-NW of the airport), and then they will reenter the pattern. I will be contacting them to determine if they will be there this year.
In addition, rehearse your ice landing technique in your mind before coming. Aircraft such as Saratogas and larger are known to land here by employing proper technique. The following is for your information only and you should land at Alton Bay at your own risk. Naturally, full stall landing on the "numbers", roll out with no brakes. Try your brakes once you've slowed down a bit. Keep flying the airplane until you come to a complete stop. In a strong crosswind, you may find yourself in a crab angle even while on the ice in order to track the centerline. Land on the upwind side of the runway during a crosswind in case it blows you across the runway a bit, but watch those snowbanks along the runway edge. When on the taxiway, there may be a moment when your airplane will slide forward even at idle and full brakes, so you may have to shut down if an aircraft is stopped in front of you. My experience has been that during a strong crosswind takeoff, you may actually weathervane while still on the ice and be crabbing before you even get into the air! It works.
3) The ramp is located on the southern end of the field and can accommodate perhaps 50+ airplanes. Follow the instructions from Paul and his assistants once you are on the ground and they will direct you to a parking space. Parking will be on a first come - first served basis, so come early. If the ramp fills up, you may not be able to land! Paul told me that he didn't have to deny landing to anyone two years ago as there was a good flow in the parking area of planes leaving to leave behind spaces for arrivals.
4) For aviation diehards, land early to assure your parking spot and attend the pancake breakfast from 8am - 10am. The cost is $5 / person. From the ice ramp, walk up the boat ramp and turn right on the road and head to the Community Center (Old Train Depot).
5) We'd love to have you join the NEPG at 11:30pm for the brunch at Shibley's at the Pier, the restaurant near our icy ramp. Please answer the "question" to your RSVP so that I can count the brunchers to make the reservations. Indicate how many seats you need. Be sure to change your RSVP if you determine later that you cannot make it. Here is their menu. After lunch, it's a free-for-all: helo rides, sleigh rides, bed races: the sky's the limit.
6) Paul and his crew will have a heater, jumper cables, generator, a few propane tanks, and other items that might be useful if you need a little help getting back in the air. We have ground support if needed.
7) It WILL be COLD! Bring a thermal blanket or a preheater with you. Paul has propane and electricity. If you only stay for a few hours, you won't need a preheat, but stay longer and you may want one!
8) As you walk around on the ice during the carnival, you will see folks slipping on the ice and falling down. If you own ice cleats, you will want to bring them along. If you don't, you might want to consider getting some. It is very slippery!! With all the snow from winter storm Nemo, you will probably do more walking on snow then anything else, so it won't be as treacherous as it has in years past. Also, it is usually quite cold here and you'll be outside for most of the day. Long underwear!
9) Please visit the General Store while you are there and drop a few bucks in the donation bucket. This helps finance Paul and his crew to keep this wonderful iceport open for us!!
10) The ice runway may be CLOSED to arrivals and departures between 3 and 3:30pm for the bed race, so plan accordingly!!
Here are improvements made to Alton Bay for 2013:
1) The runways and taxiways were laid out using an aviation GPS loaned to them by a DOT employee/pilot. So they are much straighter than they have been.
2) The taxiway feeds directly into the parking area. It no longer crosses the runway threshold.
3) The parking area is a large rectangle as it was last year, compared to a semi-circle that was hard to navigate in previous years.
No question, this is a signature 5-star NEPG family fun flyin.
Photos from Joel's reconnaissance mission in 2010:
Photos from the 2012 Alton Bay Winter Carnival:
Photos from the 2010 Alton Bay Winter Carnival:
Photos from the 2009 Alton Bay Winter Carnival:
Video from the 2009 Winter Carnival (I'm they guy in the black jacket and dungarees walking the ice):
Experiences from Joy of Aviation blogger 01/10/10:
Airnav Page for Alton Bay Iceport:
Notams for B18:
type in B18 and click View NOTAMS
Iceport Runway Hotline:[masked]
AOPA Pilot article, January 2010:
AOPA article #2 about Alton Bay, January 2010:
Winter Carnival Brochure for 2011:
NEPG Flyin Organizer: Joel Glickman (518)[masked] (Call before 8:30am if you wish - no cell coverage at Alton Bay!!)