Flying off a hilltop in Verona WI
To the north, from an elevation of 1,080 feet, you could look down on the sprawling new campus of Epic Systems just west of Verona. (Lake Monona is 845 feet above sea level.)
We were standing on Sugar Ridge Airport, one of some 30 privately owned landing fields in Dane County WI. We were witnessing the most spectacular of sights — a seemingly endless procession of small aircraft of every shape, color, and sound jumping off the 1600-foot grass runway atop a hill into a panorama of southern Wisconsin hills, woodlands, and farm fields to the east.
The weather this August 19 evening was perfect for flying. Small ultralights with buzzy Rotax engines affixed behind the one-person cabs. Two-person Piper Cubs. Twin-wing biplanes with fore and aft cockpits open to the wind. Some needed ground staff to prime the wooden propellers. To the south, a flock of ultra-lights blew past — not much more than lawn chairs held aloft by a parachute.
A Fitch-Rona ambulance stood by at the ready; fortunately, uneeded.
Invitation to this annual fly-in is by word of mouth but it’s been an annual event since its inception 21 years ago. Guestimate 200 enjoyed the free hog dogs and pulled pork sandwiches while enjoying this year’s air show and, down the hill, classic cars. And the music of a live band. On permanent display are his 1927 fire truck, a flour mill, a 1903 popcorn wagon.
Tim Stanek’s video of 2019 Sugar Ridge fly-in
All thanks to Wisconsin Aviation Hall of Fame member Tom Kretschman, a former Dane County sheriff’s deputy and National Air Guard pilot, born in 1941. (More here.)
Mr. Kretschman bought this 80-acre farm in 1970 and began developing the airfield. Said to be one of the few small fields with runway lights and a 36-inch diameter rotating beacon he bought from the airport in Dyersburg TN that witnessed Patsy Cline’s last flight in 1963. More here.
Blaska’s Bottom Line: We have disccovered yet another of the great things about Wisconsin in the summer.