New Year’s Day Flight to Gladwin, MI

New Year’s Day Flight to Gladwin, MI

Happy New Year!  Here’s wishing you nothing but blue skies in 2017!

Speaking of blue skies – January 1st marked our first sunny day in west Michigan since… hmmm…..well…since I can remember!

According to our local Channel 8 Meteorologist Bill Steffen, the Grand Rapids area had about half of the normal average total possible sunshine in December.  Now given the fact that December is typically our cloudiest month, that is pretty grim.  Our total sunshine amounted to roughly 9%.  According to Bill, that was only about 25 hours of sunshine for the entire month!  I’m not trying to be a negative-Nancy or anything, but fact is, December was 91% gray, gloomy, cloudy, snowy, icy,frozen, cold, wet, sloppy, (and many other adjectives that are not family friendly.)  Just not very conducive to roaring around in an airplane.

When New Year’s Day greeted us with bright blue, sunny skies,  my husband Randy and I scrambled to sneak in a flight before it all came crashing down again – which it did – the very next day.

We chose Gladwin, MI (KGDW) as our destination.  Gladwin is a small town roughly 100 miles north of Hastings,  the closest major town being Mount Pleasant, home of Central Michigan University, just to the South.  A pleasant and very smooth flight took us over miles of mainly farmland.

This time of year sometimes presents a challenge finding anything picturesque or interesting to photograph, so I try and look for any unusual geographical or man-made anomalies.  For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to photographing farms, as I think they are the quintessential representation of the Norman Rockwall-like rural America.  (Not to mention, the red barns offer a smidgen of color in an otherwise drab boring scene).


We touched down at the Gladwin airport and found the terminal building to be deserted.  It was a holiday though, so this wasn’t unusual.  Fortunately the airport manager had the courtesy car keys available in plain sight, so all we had to do was sign it out and we were on our way.  It is always interesting and sometimes comical to see what kind of courtesy car you get.  This one was a large boat of a car – a  Dick Tracy-like former cop car boasting a large cow-catcher up front.  Fortunately this time around, we didn’t have to use the cow-catcher.

Turning final to runway 27


Love the cow-catcher on this old patrol car!

Historical downtown Gladwin is located on Cedar Avenue, about a mile from the airport. Gladwin offers a variety of shops and restaurants.  Most of the town was closed down as it was not only Sunday, but also a holiday.  However, we found that the quaint family owned restaurant we had come to dine at, the Pepper Mill was open for business.  Randy ordered the homemade corned beef hash and I had a mouth watering breakfast burrito.  Our very personable server, daughter of the owner, told us how her Mom comes in early every morning long before the sun rises and with her grandmother’s help, bakes their famous homemade pies fresh every day.  She gave us a list of the dozens of flavors available and explained that they have consistently made the mlive top ten pie list in Michigan.  Give them 24 hours notice and you can take any of these pies home with you.  We had no room for dessert after a great and filling lunch, but we’ll be back for sure to check out those pies!


With our stomaches full, we headed back to the airport and launched back towards home.  I snapped a couple more shots en route  but mostly just settled in and enjoyed the ride.

All of those adjectives I mentioned above have since reared their ugly heads once again, so who knows when our next flight will be.  Being general aviation pilots subjected to Michigan winters,  we learn to be patient, take what we can get and relish every moment we can steal to spend in the air!


Word? Hieroglyphic? Or just a drunk farmer?  What do you see?
Meandering River


Until next time!