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Alton Bay's famous ice runway now open

No skis required

Ice runway season at New Hampshire’s Alton Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee is officially underway, and 30 aircraft arrived for opening day.

The Alton Bay ice airport from above. Photo by Mike Collins.

Weeks of preparation, the arrival of favorable winter conditions, and a successful state inspection allowed for Alton Bay’s ice runway, believed to be the only plowed ice runway in the continental United States, to open for the season.

The ice runway is generally open from January to March, though the date can fluctuate. Airport Manager Paul LaRochelle posted progress reports on Facebook as work to clear and measure the ice was underway, and above-normal temperatures did delay things a bit. (Even more uncooperative weather in 2020 scuttled the runway entirely.)

The ice runway is a tradition that dates to the 1960s, and it remains the only airport of its kind in the contiguous United States.

Winter flying enthusiasts of 30 aircraft, including one helicopter, gathered at Alton Bay Seaplane Base (it is only an ice runway as long as the weather holds) on February 6 to be among the first to utilize this unique seasonal attraction, LaRochelle reported in a Facebook post.

Pilots were happily received by Alton Bay locals, excited to take photographs and learn more about the aviators and aircraft gracing the icy tarmac. LaRochelle told AOPA that pilots “feel as though this is really a unique community because they feel so welcome.”

Pilots considering making the chilly trek to Alton Bay this season are encouraged to call 603-271-7398 for the most up-to-date airport conditions.

Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.

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