After looking through my logbook I realized that most my flights have either been to the South or East of C29, which happens to be my home airport. Noticing that I’ve rarely gone West I decided it was time to go check out the Mississippi River.
I pulled out the trusty flight pad and began planning for a flight West of Middleton, Wisconsin. I was in search of airports near or almost on the river so I could make a day trip with lunch, hiking and some midwestern adventure.
Looking at the sectional I came across GAA, which is a private grass strip on the Iowa side of the river. The grass strip would have been perfect for the Aviat Husky I was going to take on this trip but unable to get in touch with the owner flying here was suddenly out of the picture.
My hopes were high though and I didn’t let that get me down. I looked just a few miles further South and found Casseville Municipal or C74 for you pilots reading. It is located less than a mile from the river and was sure to entice my adventurous needs.
While on paper C74 seemed to be a super unique airport to fly into I knew that without fuel or an FBO I would have to plan another stop for lunch and to socialize as I am one of those kinds of people who always wants to meet and chat with fellow aviators.
Back to the sectional it was. With the whole reason of this trip being to check out the river I looked for more options near the Mississippi to make a multi-stop all day trip. With Dubuque being just 20 miles to the South of C74 and on the river that was a viable option but I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to the tower during my peaceful flight over the river.
Which leads me to how I came about Prairie Du Chien Municipal or KPDC. On paper its got great runways, a very nice FBO, 24 hour self-service fuel and while there is no courtesy car a quick google maps showed it is easily within walking distance to a lot of places. Not to mention it’s within city limits which means an uber or lyft wouldn’t cost me much if I wanted to go that route.
With my route planned I loaded up the Husky and set off for C74. I opted to fly at 2,500 ft simply because the Husky has so many windows and I really enjoy the low and slow fights over Wisconsin’s rolling hills. There’s just something about being able to make out all the details on the ground while in flight that really fascinates me.
As I neared Casseville the first thing I noticed was the 270 ft. bluff that is mentioned in the remarks of the AF/D. No wonder Runway 11 is a right pattern! Anyways as I flew over midfield to enter the downwind leg of the pattern I could see that the runway is most definitely accurately described as poor asphalt. Nothing to crazy that would cause damage or instill fear in a pilot but something to be aware of.
Even with the poor asphalt flying into C74 was by all means worth it though. In the pattern you are directly over the river and on the base leg you are flying towards this giant bluff. It would have been very fun to see the reaction of someone who’s never flown before. Overall it was very scenic and exactly what I wanted. I parked the plane and took a quick walk across the field to the river. It felt as if I was walking through somebody’s property as the whole length of the runway is lined with houses on the east side but I think I played it safe.
After a quick stroll along the lake I decided it was time to set off to KPDC. Just over 20 miles North of C74 I followed the curves of the river til I could spot the airport. A very short flight but enjoyable. Keep in mind that the Mississippi River is a National Park Service Area so you’ll want to be 2,000 ft. AGL when flying over the river.
KPDC is very easy to spot along the river and a lot different to land at than C74. With runway 14-32 at 5,000 ft long and 75 ft wide it felt massive compared to the smaller airports and grass strips I often enjoy going to. The FBO was extremely nice and the airport staff is even nicer.
If you really want to explore the Prairie Du Chien area the FBO had a ton of trifolds neatly organized that offered discounts along with adventurous and fun things to do in the area. I will most definitely make a trip back out to take in the city feel.
Who else would want to go?