Houghton’s John Lewis directs air tourists to the U.P.HOUGHTON —
Last year, when the Michigan Aviation Association approached John Lewis, of Agate Beach Aviation in Houghton, to direct the Michigan Aviation Associations 2006 Air Tour, Lewis said that he would direct it on one condition.
Unlike all the past Air Tours, the entire 2006 Air Tour would be flown in the Upper Peninsula.The purpose of the Upper Peninsula Wilderness Air Tour is to emphasize how valuable the U.P. aviation infrastructure is.According to Lewis, “Pave a mile of highway, and you can go one mile. . . pave a mile of runway, and you can bring commerce and tourism from any place in the world!”
Lewis is going to demonstrate that this weekend by directing over 50 personally-owned airplanes carrying more than 125 pilots and passengers from six states and Canada into the UP.
The participants are flying the 548 nautical mile Air Tour to nine wilderness airports at their own expense. Presentations are scheduled at each airport to present Governor Granholm’s proclamation that the week of Sept. 9 is Michigan Aviation Week. In addition, each airport will be honored with an engraved plaque from the Wilderness Air Tour.
Lewis has been working on the Air Tour for over a year and a half. He has spent hours on the phone with local airport managers and officials. In addition, he has flown to each airport on the tour.He says that at each presentation, the 9.6 billion dollar a year economic impact of aviation in Michigan will be emphasized. In particular, the Air Tour is emphasizing the importance and economic impact of airports and aviation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula wilderness.
Lewis states, “Aviation has a major impact on virtually every sector of Michigan’s economy, including health and medical, agriculture, manufacturing, retailing and travel and tourism.”Despite the important message, the Upper Peninsula Air Tour is going to be a once in a life time event for local residents to see. Lewis encourages residents to bring their families to watch the Air Tour land for the presentation and then launch. “It is very unusual for our geographically isolated airports to have over 50 airplanes in the traffic pattern, on final, landing and taxiing all at the same time.“Bring your camera!” he adds. “There are all types and colors of airplanes flying the tour.”Local officials and local pilots organizations are excited about bringing attention to their own airports. “The airport managers take a lot of pride in their airports, and so do the local officials.” They will all be on hand to receive the Air Tour honors.
At least two of the airports, Newberry and Ironwood, are hosting all day long events featuring local vendors, displays and food. All of the others are rolling out the red carpets with snacks, meals, lunches and breakfasts for the Air Tour participants.Lewis’ wife, Marcelaine, the tour co-director, adds, “For the pilots, this is an extraordinary opportunity. If you have ever wondered what the U.P. looks like from the air, let me tell you ... it’s gorgeous!”She continues, “Chosen by MSN as one of the world’s top 10 vacation destinations, The Upper Peninsula boasts 1,700 miles of rugged, unspoiled Lake Superior shoreline. A scenic flight around the Upper Peninsula will leave the pilots awestruck.”
Established in 1929, The Michigan Air Tour is one of the oldest in the world.
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