Any Excuse  - Flight Plan KMSN-KSUE 

Any Excuse

By: Harry J. Perez

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As a pilot I am always looking for any excuse to fly. I imagine you are of the same mind. Rather than just boring holes, a unique destination would be a great idea. This of course would exercise pilot skills and provide a means for honed proficiency. Also, this would be an excellent opportunity to continue to develop cross-country techniques, utilizing an autopilot, GPS equipment to navigate the airways, and to execute approaches in either VFR or IFR conditions.

To make things more palatable for the spouse though, a smart aviator will incorporate a plan (flight plan) to achieve a happy result for everyone; to maintain proficiency, in other words-get to fly, and to go somewhere that other members of the family would enjoy.

My wife and I recently visited Door County on the peninsula northeast of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and discovered a perfect place to visit. The entire peninsula has a village-style atmosphere with homes dating back to the Civil War. There are many venues and scores of activities to choose from and no matter what the season, Door County offers activities to suit everyone; from kayaking in the summer to snowmobiling in the winter. It is a hikers paradise with five marvelous state parks and the Ridges Sanctuary near Bailey’s Harbor.

There are several small towns along Highway 42, that runs the length of the peninsula, all within 65 miles: beginning at Sturgeon Bay, then Carlsville, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim and Sisters Bay.


A great place to visit is the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay, located between the historic downtown bridge and the Sturgeon Bay waterfront. The Museum is filled with great educational experiences. There are many displays of the rich history of the maritime activities in the area including a mock up of a typical tugboat bridge, a periscope from a nuclear submarine, the ship building industry, numerous galleries displaying intricate models and photos of ships and illustrations of the 10 lighthouses that surround the Door County peninsula. The famous John Purves, a fully restored tugboat, is tied to the dock right outside of the museum on the waterfront. This tugboat, a favorite workhorse of the region in it’s day, was well known for her great strength and towing capability.

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In Carlsville at the Door Country Coffee & Tea Company you can get the best coffee you will ever taste, along with fresh homemade quiche and fresh baked cherry muffins. The owners, Vicky and Doug Wilson, have grown their business over the years to include a wonderful gift shop and restaurant. They buy the best coffee beans from all over the world and roast over 100 different blends and flavors in the processing area, filling the entire 20,000 square foot facility a fabulous aroma. Not only do they sell coffee in the gift shop, but also they will ship it anywhere in the world.

Egg Harbor has several interesting eateries. Mojo Rosa’s offers authentic Mexican food along with their Oaxacan specialties such as Albondigas en salsa Chipotle  (Chipotle meatballs smothered in Mexican gravy) and Brocheta de Camaronô Con pollo (skewered shrimp, chicken and veggies, grilled in secret spices). The Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese Shop boasts the largest selection of handmade cheese crafted only in Wisconsin.

In Fish Creek, Hands On Art Studio will bring out your the creative side in a variety of mediums from clay to metal work. This is a great place to spend the day. Fish Creek is also home to the White Gull Inn and their famous Fish Boil.

And, you can’t go wrong at Joe Jo’s Pizza and Gelato in Ephraim.

If airport hopping is in your plan, Door County has many small airports along the way that will give you the opportunity to exercise your pilot skills. Most of the airways in this area converge with the Green Bay VOR (GRB) 4.5 miles from the Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB) in Green Bay. This airport is just outside and southwest of the Door County line and has both Jet A and 100LL fuel, furnished by two FBO’s that also can also provide hangar space and tie downs. The procedures available range from VOR, ILS, GPS to localizer approaches.

If you are coming in from Green Bay and flying up the Door County peninsula you will soon arrive at the Door County Cherryland Airport (KSUE) in Sturgeon Bay. This airport is 43 nm from Green Bay and has two runways; 02-20-4,600’x75’ asphalt and 10-28 at 3,199’x75’ asphalt. It also provides five different approaches. The airport is uncontrolled and brings you right into the heart of the delightful Door County flavor. Rental Vehicles can be arranged ahead of time.

There are plenty of accommodations to choose from, but be aware, they fill up quickly during the peak season. You will not encounter any problem if you are visiting for winter activities, but during the spring and summer you must plan ahead. Visit the Door County Tourist Bureau at for specific information.

Approximately 20 nm further north on the peninsula you will arrive at the Ephraim-Gibraltar (3D2) airport. It also is uncontrolled and has two shorter runways: 01-19 at 1,980’ x 80’ turf and 14–32 at 2,700’ x 60’ asphalt.

And finally on an island at the tip of the peninsula you can fly to the Washington Island (2P2) airport. This airport will serve small aircraft for it only has two even shorter runways: 02-20 at 2,250’ and 14-32 at 2,232’, neither of which are paved. Review chart on Figure 1 more information on the airports mentioned above.

The A36 Bonanza that I fly has an old King/Bendix 88-RNAV (still works), a FAA Certified Garmin 430. Additionally, I utilize a Garmin 696 as a backup for the 430 and also for weather information. Recently I began using an iPad tablet for quick and easy flight planning purposes and even though it cannot be used officially for navigation it can serve as a backup if accompanied with GPS capability. You can see a sample Flight Plan (click here) for a theoretical flight to the Door County area by accessing As you can see a trip like this will challenge your skills and give you an opportunity to become a better pilot.

If you are up for a real treat while your family is in Door County, you may want to experience the AirVenture aviation celebration presented by the elite EAA ( EAA is making the “Spirit of Aviation” more accessible and therefore more exciting. This year the AirVenture event will take place on July 23rd - 29th at the Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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Depending on your interests you can pick from a list of many activities and presentations such as spectacular aerobatic performances, rides on some historical aircraft of the early days of aviation, viewing dozens of static displays of aircraft and military equipment and a lot more. The week’s event includes something for everyone including evening entertainment, workshops, youth and developmental activities. There are even highly lucrative sweepstakes.

The most interesting feature of this great event is the EAA AirVenture Museum and Pioneer Airport that are open year-round. The Museum includes an impressive collection of over 200 airplanes and other related attractions, six movie theaters, photo and art galleries, flight simulators, gift shops and two interactive (“hands on”) galleries for kids of all ages and the kids at heart. You must see the infamous Pioneer Airport that is part of the Museum and exhibits aircraft of a by-gone era, and believe or not, some of them can still fly.

Quoting the EAA website and re-emphasized by Dick Knapinski a spokesman for EAA, “A multitude of special activities take place in the Museum throughout the week of AirVenture with an outstanding roster of aviation personalities slated to appear every day, telling their personal stories throughout several locations at the world-class museum.”

While you are attending AirVenture the admission fee also includes admission to the Museum. If you visit the Museum at another time there is a fee for such admission. You can get the full picture of everything about this great venue by visiting their website  (

Photo by EAA (with Permission)

SpaceShipOne exhibit 2006

Should you decide to visit AirVenture you can secure accommodations at hotels/motels, rent someone’s home or you can camp out on EAA property. For more details-hit the Planning/Where to Stay buttons at You must do it early for these fill up rather quickly, it is anticipated that over 500,000 people will attend this year’s event. If you fly into the Oshkosh airport there are two FBOs to accommodate you and your airplane, Orion Flight Services and Basler Flight Service.

Even though you may be tempted to fly right to the Oshkosh Airport, keep in mind that as many as 10,000 aircraft of varying shapes, sizes and varieties will be visiting the event with an airplane landing every 15 seconds. It will require a great deal of coordination and special attention by the pilots of those airplanes.  

                                                                                                                                                          Photo by EEA (with Permission)


But don’t despair, there a number of other airports in the area that you can fly to and receive support to get there and assistance in securing accommodations. You might consider flying into following:

 ·      Green Bay-Austin Straubel International Airport (KGRB) 54 miles north of Oshkosh and 1 hour by ground transportation.

 ·     Outgamie County Regional Airport (KATW) in Appleton, Wisconsin, located just 25 miles north of Oshkosh and 25 minutes away by     ground transportation.

 ·      Fond Du Lac County Airport (KFLD) is located 19 miles south of Oshkosh and 21 minutes away by ground transportation.

 ·      Dodge County Airport (KUNU) located in Juneau, Wisconsin is 44 miles from Oshkosh and 54 minutes by ground transportation.

 ·    Dane County Regional –Truax Field (KMSN) in Madison, Wisconsin and located 82 miles southwest of Oshkosh and 1.5 hours by ground transportation.

Refer to the chart on the left for basic information of the airport that can service your needs while taking in both the Door County experience and the Oshkosh adventure.

Whether you are flying in from nearby or from afar, a one day jaunt or multiple day trip, you will not be disappointed in the venues you will select to visit nor the activities you will choose to partake. It really is a must do adventure. Just remember to fly safely.

Figure 1  


Harry, an AOPA member is also a Technical Writer by profession and along with his wife Linda Kaye is a freelance travel and aviation journalist. He has been flying since he was 12 years old and has owned a A36 Bonanza since 1996. He is a second-generation pilot from a family of pilots. His son and daughter are the third generation. He is currently developing a new Website:  

   © Harry Perez 2012