Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Idaho Airpark Living

SilverWing at Sandpoint is a gateway to mountain adventure

Mileski says lots are all finished and have utility connections for water, sewer, gas and electricity, with phone and cable service also available. Once lots are purchased, owners can start construction immediately using either their own contractors or one of several approved builders in the area. SilverWing also can build you a complete unit, with an empty loft space above the hangar to be finished by the buyer. Options for each abound and are only limited by a buyer's imagination.

Sandpoint itself is a beacon for this area. The once-quiet town has grown into the Best Small Town in America, with respected music festivals, a thriving art scene, interesting restaurants and one of the best general aviation FBOs—Silver-Wing Flight services (a sister company of the development)—in the region. It's a great place to learn to fly, or to stretch your wings into the surrounding mountains and backcountry strips. With mild temperatures that range from 80s in the summer to 20s in the winter, Sandpoint seems to offer everything a pilot could want.

We decided to rent a 172 from the FBO to see the whole area from a pilot's point of view. As expected, the land is even more breathtaking from the air. The lake makes for an unmistakable landmark, and the possibilities of using Sandpoint as a base for further adventure become apparent. Shooting touch-and-goes, the downwind leg stretches out over the lake, and I find myself distracted by the beauty of it all.

I let my mind wander while I listen for traffic on the radio. The non-towered airport is silent. There isn't much to Silver-Wing yet, but I can see the potential here: a beautiful hangar-home, with the chance to explore endless valleys, lakes, meadows and strips. The charm of Northern Idaho is lulling me into a stupor. Crossing over and turning downwind, I spot the model home, point to it and say to nobody in particular, "There's our house." And I'm not even dreaming.

SilverWing Flight Services

If you've ever longed for an FBO that provided services and prices like those of the golden era of general aviation flying, SilverWing Flight Services is it. Aside from that fact that their location at Sandpoint Airport is awesomely picturesque, it's what you don't see that counts. Their Chief Flight Instructor, Ken Larson, is a former Air Force fighter pilot and T-38 instructor. SilverWing's pilots are intimately familiar with the surrounding mountains, the countless backcountry strips and how to handle mountain conditions.

Manager Jason Hauck runs a resource-ful operation, attending to every customer's needs and even running the rental car counter. Silvering offers some of the best deals in aviation, with a great little 172 that can be had for $100/hour, and a clean red Cessna 150 aerobat that you can rent for $78/hour on a 10-hour block. They'll even give you an area orientation.

For more information, visit the FBO's website at


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