Alton Bay Winter Carnival at the Iceport (B18) Alton Bay, NH

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:
http://www.facebook.c...

Photos from the 2012 Alton Bay Winter Carnival:
http://www.meetup.com/NEPilotsGroup/photos/6138182/

Photos from the 2010 Alton Bay Winter Carnival:
http://www.meetup.com...

Photos from the 2009 Alton Bay Winter Carnival:
http://www.meetup.com...

Video from the 2009 Winter Carnival (I'm they guy in the black jacket and dungarees walking the ice):
http://www.flickr.com...

Experiences from Joy of Aviation blogger 01/10/10:
http://www.thejoyofav...

Airnav Page for Alton Bay Iceport:  
http://www.airnav.com...

Notams for B18:

https://pilotweb.nas....
type in B18 and click View NOTAMS

Iceport Runway Hotline:[masked]

AOPA Pilot article, January 2010:
http://www.aopa.org/m...

AOPA article #2 about Alton Bay, January 2010:
http://www.aopa.org/a...

Winter Carnival Brochure for 2011:  
http://altonnhbusines...

NEPG Flyin Organizer: Joel Glickman (518)[masked] (Call before 8:30am if you wish - no cell coverage at Alton Bay!!)

 

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  • rudy l.

    Very well organized, very kind local people, great experience.

    February 16, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Glad it worked out for some. Sorry for those that were frozen in at their home airport. For those who decided not to go due to the wind - Good decision making on your part. No matter how it actually turned out, you had to gauge your capabilities against the predicted weather. For those who did get to make an ice landing today, we'd love to hear about your experiences landing and taking off, especially if you encountered a crosswind. Great learning opportunity for everyone. Let's hope for better conditions next year. Remember, you can always fly up to Alton Bay on your own, but don't forget to call[masked] first to pickup the NOTAMS. This airport opens and closes frequently based on conditions.

    1 · February 16, 2014

  • Michael F.

    Thanks to Shibleys for being so understanding and accommodating the smaller numbers of aviators who made it in. We still had a great view of the approach end of the runway so we were able to score a few approaches and landings. Its too bad that so many airplanes were buried or blocked in their hangars as the the winds were pretty much down the runway by lunch time. But I'm glad that I didn't have to shovel out of hangar at LCI or I wouldn't have made it either. (it's the first time I've ever been happy about driving to a fly-in). Keep June 14th open on your calendar as that's the day of Laconia's Wings Water & Wheels festival at LCI. Hope to see you all there!

    1 · February 16, 2014

  • Graeme S.

    Not happening at KUUU. I'm dug out and frost free - but the runways are a long way away across the snowed in taxiways. Got to hand it to the crew at KUUU. Not for want of trying but they still have too much to move.

    February 16, 2014

  • Bill K.

    Cant even open the hangar door @ Sullivan let alone make it to the runway. :(

    February 16, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Good morning. Alton Bay is OPEN this morning. Sunshine willl dominate, but winds are predicted to be WNW a gusty 15-25 mph Expect a significant crosswind from your left If you do decide to go, my advice would be to land upwind of centerline in case the crosswind blows you a little downwind. Be mindful of the snow banks. Also, you may find yourself in a crab, either during takeoff or landing while still on the ice This can be OK as long as the ice is smooth and snow-free. As always, fly there at your own risk, and be careful!

    February 16, 2014

  • Chris

    Sorry to have to back out on this trip but just got back from the airport and have 4 feet of drifted snow in front of my hanger. Will take most of the day to dig out of this one.

    February 16, 2014

  • Michael F.

    I'm still available to shuttle folks from the concrete at KLCI to the ice at Alton Bay. I'll be on my cell[masked] and will pick up and drop off at the terminal. In addition to the Ice Carnival, Laconia is also hosting the championship sled dog races this weekend so there's a lot to do on the shores of the big lake.

    2 · February 16, 2014

  • Karl

    So sorry I had to cancel!
    I very much wanted to do this again.
    Perhaps another day without the ice carnival, and also looking forward to next year.

    February 15, 2014

  • Peter B.

    Cross wind is the deal breaker for me. Too bad, as I landed at B18 last Sunday and Paul had done the best runway plowing job ever! If winds turn out to be much milder, may still try to make it...

    February 15, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Alton Bay if officially still closed, but the runway has been plowed. Paul is out there working on the taxiway and parking area now. The problem is that they are expecting 3-5 inches overnight up at Alton Bay. This will have to be called in the morning, as it relies on Paul's ability to get the runway clear again. ALSO, winds are predicted at 20 mph from the W-NW tomorrow, a definite crosswind for Runway 1. Stay tuned.

    February 15, 2014

  • Clark B.

    Like everyone else, a lot will depend on getting the Archer dug out. The wings were cleared yesterday, but the surrounding snow was higher than my boots. Hope this works out!

    February 15, 2014

  • Russell K.

    I'm out, don't want to risk the cross wind on ice. Weather permitting I may go to KASH for their pancake fly in tomorrow.

    1 · February 15, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Reservations to Shibley's just called in for lunch. Please UPDATE your RSVP by 11am tomorrow morning. If you definitely know you're not coming, RSVP NO. If you know you are coming, RSVP YES and answer the question to let me know how many for lunch. The reservation is at the restaurant right on the shoreline called Shibley's at the Pier. The time to meet is 11:30am. The reservation is listed under the "Northeast Pilot's Group". I wish everyone well who does make it out tomorrow. I will not be there. Look for a final update from me early tomorrow morning regarding the runway. Alton Bay is CLOSED as of right now, but Paul will be working hard to get it open for the fly-in. Anyone who would like transportation from LCI, please coordinate directly with Micheal Frank[masked]

    February 15, 2014

  • Joel G.

    I see that many people cannot go due to conditions at their home airport. My airplane is buried in almost 2 feet of snow and even if I clear it, I'm sure there's ice on the wings to contend with. I spoke with Paul, the airport manager, and while the airport is closed as of this moment, he intends on having it ready for Sunday. High winds (20 mph) are expected on Sunday, and I'm not yet sure if this will be a crosswind. If this is your first ice landing, I would not recommend landing in such a strong crosswind. If you decide NOT to go, please change your RSVP, especially those with reservations at Shibley's. Also, if you don't want to land on the ice, remember, there are two gracious offers for rides from LCI. More updates tomorrow morning.

    February 15, 2014

  • Dave P.

    Looks like I'm out for Tomorrow. Not favorable here and the runway is still closed, althought it sounds like they are really putting a HUGE effort to get it cleared. Good luck all...next time.

    Dave

    1 · February 15, 2014

  • Graeme S.

    Big MAYBE. Westerly gusting crosswinds forecast. Though the runway will be sheltered to a degree by the hills to the west - a crosswind landing on ice is not to be taken lightly. Remember you can always alternate around the corner at LCI - Laconia - where there is fuel. If you do - please consider supporting the FBO Emerson Aviation on the north side of the field down the end of the old runway - they have the best fuel price and are super friendly.

    1 · February 15, 2014

  • Pat R.

    My home airport won't be dug out by Sun. and it is going to be too windy for me.

    1 · February 15, 2014

  • Pat R.

    Looks like it will be windy.

    February 14, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Long range for Sunday is Sunny and 22 degrees, so the flying weather looks good. I will be in touch with Paul to find out about the expected runway condition on Sunday. Don't forget, you can always call the Alton Bay Ice Runway hotline at[masked] to here NOTAMs and current conditions.

    February 14, 2014

  • Ken J.

    I'll never get Sylvester unburied in time to make it to Alton Bay. If we can delay till next week that would be great.

    1 · February 14, 2014

  • Dave P.

    Weather is not so favorable right now, hope to make the go-no go decision by Saturday night!

    2 · February 13, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Also, if you are interested in taking advantage of the generous offers for rides from LCI by Bruce and Mike, please also RSVP again and answer the question concerning this.

    1 · February 13, 2014

    • Ken J.

      We are interested in the ride but I'm not sure I can make it home by Sunday in this weather.

      February 13, 2014

  • Joel G.

    Keeping a close eye on the weather for Sunday's Winter Carnival. I will post updates about the runway condition over the weekend. I would like EVERYONE who plans on coming to Shibley's to join us for lunch at 11:30am to RSVP Again. Just go to the green box that says "Your RSVP: Yes" up to and click Change RSVP. When you do, a question will pop up asking if you wish to join us at Shibley's. Please indicate Yes and tell me how many. I need this information by the end of today to put together a reservation to call in. If you decide on Saturday that you are not coming, PLEASE return here and RSVP No so that I can change the reservation at Shibley's. Hope to see everyone on the ice!!

    1 · February 13, 2014

  • Michael F.

    I'm based at LCI and can provide shuttle service to the Ice Carnival Sunday for anyone not wanting to land on the ice at B18. I can put 3-4 passengers in my Tundra. For those needing a ride between 10AM & 2PM, call me on my cell[masked]-7070.

    Thanks

    Mike

    1 · February 11, 2014

    • Bruce

      Mike, I too will be in Alton Bay Sunday with a vehicle. If you need more seats, call me[masked] and I'll drive up to LCI

      1 · February 12, 2014

  • Bryan M

    Also happens to be my Birthday! :)

    1 · January 30, 2014

  • Karl

    Was there in Feb '09.
    Slick ice after the thaw and refreeze.
    A great time and looking forward to it again!

    January 28, 2014

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