Saturday, July 06, 2013

Seeley Lake Airport (23S) pushes economy


SEELEY LAKE, MONTANA - When you think of Seeley Lake, you're probably thinking of going camping, or seeing the great outdoors - but now flying in and camping by the airport could be just as outdoorsy.

Planes, car service and hotel lodgings are not something you expect to see in the middle of the backcountry.

"They love the airstrip. They love the country. They're all from back east, or south, California, Idaho," Seeley Lake Airport Manager Mike Lindemer explained.

He added that up until 20 years ago, it wasn't so nice, or as safe, for pilots to land in Seeley Lake.

"The airport back when we moved here...gopher holes were everywhere, little trees were growing up."

It was Seeley Lake's beauty and calm that charmed Mike Lindener's dad to relocate, and open a steakhouse by the lake in the 1980s.

"And he would travel back and forth from Minnesota, and there was an airstrip here. He got a hold of the state, and the Missoula Airport Authority, and helped maintain [it] and get it back to neat and usable conditions," Lindemer said.

Since then the family and community have joined efforts to make the airport a one of a kind gem.

"We all work together to make the airstrip nice," Briand Bertsch of East Pole Lodge told us.

But the community has done more than just yard work, with members like Bertsch building lodgings right on the airport grounds.

"Our lodges, we have four units, we started in 99, and it took about 10 years to build," Bertsch said.

Word about the place is taking off.

"When they come and find Seeley Lake they hear about it and then they go to other FBOs, other airstrips and they talk about it," Lindemer said.

Among aviation enthusiasts Seeley Lake is kind of a big deal and has been featured in nationally published pilot magazines.

Now as more people fly in, they're also discovering the perks downtown Seeley Lake has to offer.

"We're known as a great community to come to, we have open arms for anybody," Lindemer concluded.

Lindemer and members of the Seeley Lake Aviation Foundation have organized several antique airplane fly ins to draw out more people.

The airport is also becoming a popular wedding venue.


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