KVVS (Joseph Hardy, Connellsville, PA) KTOL (Toledo, Ohio) KSLH (Cheboygan, MI) KMCD (Mackinac Island, MI)
470 nm, 3.5 hours, 34 gallons
Partially cloudly, bottoms at 4500. VFR airports with moderate turbulence en route.
Why we chose this stop
Anna had dreamed of coming back to Mackinac Island with her husband since she first came here in 8th grade with parents, siblings, Grandma, & Bata. Really, she dreamed of having her honeymoon here. There must have been something about the relaxation, beautiful scenery, bikes, no cars, Victorian homes, and fudge that screamed romance to her. Ultimately, while we didn't select this as our honeymoon spot, it was still a place Anna hoped to return with Anil by her side. Thus, it was an obvious choice for this adventure around America as soon as we realized this tiny island has a small airport on top of all those wonderful qualities mentioned above.
KMCD is indeed a small airport nestled in the less inhabited, tree lined part of the island. It offers no fuel and no staffed FBO, but the runway & parking area are well kept and the views as you're coming in for landing are amongst the most remarkable we've ever witnessed. On top of that, when you radio via the UNICOM about 30 minutes out for landing, they'll send a "taxi", aka a horse drawn carriage, to pick you up from the airport and take you into town upon arrival.
I wouldn't say the flight path here was "not smooth", just a bit less direct than optimal. We needed to both a) avoid Canadian air space (hence our initial heading towards KTOL) and then b) ensure we had fuel to take off again when we leave Mackinac Island. With no fuel available at Mackinac Island airport, we stopped just across the water on the upper peninsula at KSLH to quickly fuel up before embarking on the final 14 nm (~6 minute) trip across the water to land at Mackinac Airport.
Eats and Sleeps
We stayed our two evenings here at two different bed and breakfasts. Both were >100 year old Victorian homes with quaint rooms and delicious breakfasts in the mornings, and both just the right distance from the heart of the town - not too close so as to be taken over by crowds, but not so far as to need to travel far to reach anywhere (really though, with an 8 mile circumference, nothing on this island is far).
We spent as many meals as we could sitting outside with views of the water. The weather here is a far cry from Texas summer: cool, dry, and sunny, and we tried to soak up every minute of it we could. Our final meal at the Carriage House at the Iroquois Hotel was perhaps our favorite meal, as we sat outside watching the sunset reflect off the nearby lighthouse and enjoyed some local fish and not-so-local steak.
- The view coming in for landing at Mackinac Island! We soared from 1900 feet to landing with the cobalt blue water stretching out for miles beneath us. As we approached the island, cliffs of green trees jutted up out of the water, creating a stunning contrast in colors.
- Biking, running, and biking some more around the island. We spent most of our second day here active, exploring the interior and exterior routes of the island. The sights and sounds were magnificent, punctuated by the sounds of lapping water against the shore's rocks and the deep blues and turquoise colors of the water with the sun glistening off it.