Steve Lagergren of rural Litchfield won this 1963 Beechcraft model 35-B33 after flying out of the Winsted Airport in October 2014. The fully restored plane was a prize giveaway in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association sweepstakes.
Winsted Municipal Airport

For those who love to fly airplanes – or jump out of them – the Winsted Municipal Airport is an exhilarating place to spend a day.

The airport became city property in 1962. In late 2011, construction began on a 1,100-square-foot airport arrival/departure building, which replaced a 700-square-foot terminal from the 1980s. In June 2012, the building was dedicated in honor of Winsted resident Russ Paschke.

Paschke, 87, passed away about six months later, in December 2012. A plaque in Paschke’s name is on display at the arrival/departure building, serving as a reminder of the countless hours Paschke spent maintaining the airport and keeping it safe for others.

Paschke was involved with the airport for 35 years, and served as airport commission chair since 1988. He was also the airport manager, monitoring and conducting maintenance at the facility, and calling in the status of the runway.

In the winter, when the runway was closed because of a heavy snowfall, Paschke was the one who would walk out to the field through the snowdrifts to turn off the runway lights, letting pilots know the runway was closed.

Capital improvements

Maintenance and improvements needed to keep the airport a viable asset to the city and its hangar owners has been done through annual capital improvement projects, with the majority of the costs paid for through federal funding.

Improvement projects, along with future development of the airport, are considered each year. Recommendations and priorities of various upgrades are made by the airport commission, with final approval given by the Winsted City Council.

The possibility of paving the runway has been discussed in recent months. Engineering firm Bolton & Menk’s goal is to have an environmental assessment complete by May 2016.

Business is taking off

• Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified flight instructor Darrin Mason offers pilot training through MasonAir. The flight school offers instruction to become a private pilot or sport pilot, as well as training in tail wheel endorsement, flight review, instrument proficiency check, and instrument rating.

• Skydive The Lakes offers skydiving at altitudes of 13,000 and 18,000 feet. The previous skydiving business in Winsted was called Westside Skydivers. A person must be at least 18 years of age and weigh less than 250 pounds to skydive.