Winsted Municipal Airport
The Winsted Airport has flown through many changes since it became city property in 1962.
One recent improvement is a 1,100-square-foot airport arrival/departure building, which replaced a 700-square-foot terminal from the 1980s. Construction began in late 2011, and 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.
“He has been out there fixing the runway lights when the bulbs were burned out or the gophers chewed the wires off. Many springs, he spent hours on the tractor pulling the roller back and forth on the runway to smooth out the surface,” former airport commissioner Dave Millerbernd said during an airport open house in 2009.
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.
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.
• Westside Skydivers owner Joe Johnson began his skydiving business in Winsted in the spring of 2010. It is the only skydiving center in the country to offer customers a choice in altitude, with jumps from 13,000, 18,000 or 24,000 feet. Johnson opened a second location (in Houston, TX) in November 2012.
In June 2012, family and friends of Russ Paschke stayed after the Winsted City Council meeting to congratulate him on the city’s dedication of the airport arrival/departure building in his honor.