Subject: Question regarding Frontiertown
I have the strangest query you will probably ever get regarding
Frontiertown. I am trying to recall a trip I made with my daughter. I
have only a fuzzy memory, and I hope you may be able to help me.
About 15 years ago, my daughter and I flew (in my plane) to a small
airstrip which I believe was located along the east side of I87 in the
Adirondacks. I recall that it was adjacent to a resort or lodge, and a
creek or small river ran north and south between the airstrip and the
Interstate. We camped overnight next to the plane, and flew out the next
day. Somehow I never recorded the trip (or landing) in my pilot logbook.
Could this have been Frontierland? Or, are you aware of any such facility
that might have existed at that time in the area that had an airstrip? I
know we did it, but my daughter cannot remember, and it's really bothering
I will appreciate any thoughts you may have.
I think that indeed your "lost" trip was to Frontier Town. The founder of
Frontier Town, Art Bensen, became an avid pilot and added an airstrip to
Frontier Town. He wrote a book about how he created Frontier Town called
"Adirondack Mountain Adventure" - the picture on the cover shows him, Powhatan,
Motoaka and Swift Eagle in front of his own
private plane and a stagecoach. There is a chapter in the book called
Frontier Aviation in which he tells how he learned to fly, about the airpark
and about a plan he had to add an area to Frontier Town called Frontiers of
Aviation. He had to abandon his plans to add the Frontiers of Aviation area
(he had already purchased some antique aircraft) because the State of New
York seized a portion of the land it was to sit on.
Here is what he said about the airpark:
Our Frontier Town Airpark has a paved runway, is on the air maps and is open
to the public. When the weather is good around us, it is not unusual to
find a lot of planes coming in. People like to watch them take off and land
as they enjoy their meals iin our cafeteria. The restaurant and motels are
also within walking distance of the airport.
There is a picture in that chapter of the building the cafeteria is in, with
a plane landing in front of it. The caption under another picture of the
building, with many planes in front, states, "When the weather is good
there's lots of activity at our Frontier Town Airpark. The 'A' frame
building is the largest in New York State measuring sixty feet to the peak.
It houses our cafeteria and gift shop." That is probably the lodge you
mention. The creek you mention is the Schroon River.
Your email has made me think that I should add a page to my website about
the Airpark, with some of the pictures from Mr. Bensen's book. Though I
never took advantage of it, your email makes it obvious that others did.
Your message gives me hope that I am not getting senile after all. ;-)
In my memory, we walked up a slight grade from the airstrip to the building
where we ate and probably bought some of the gifts. I recall that it was a
log structure, so it must have been the A-frame you mention. I remember
going into the building and asking if it would be OK for us to camp
overnight and the person in charge said 'sure'. We parked our plane on the
creek side of the airstrip, facing across the runway to the cafeteria
building. The runway may have been paved, but my recollection is that it
was not in good shape. After looking at the pictures on your website, I'm
certain that we didn't enter Frontiertown. It may have been closed, because
I think we would have checked it out if it were open. I remember that the
day we left, the ceiling was quite low and we flew south down the valley
under the clouds to where it opened into a lake and eventually made our way
to Glens Falls for fuel.
I'm pleased that you are keeping the story of Frontiertown alive on your
website. You're welcome to add my email to the site. And I, among others
I'm sure, would like to see a mention of the airstrip and it's history. I
don't think I can add much more, but if these cues rattle my memory, I will
send along any other recollections.
Thanks for helping me resolve a nagging mystery. I am still trying to place
this event in time, but, so far, I cannot make it fit with any of my trips
into the area. We have flown in to Keene Valley, North Creek, Glens Falls,
Lake Placid, and at least one other airstrip in the Adirondacks. It is a
very beautiful area. Once my best friend and I were considering building a
vacation cabin in the area around North Creek. But his wife died, he
remarried, and the moment was lost.
As I was re-reading my reply to you below, thinking about the places I have
landed in the Adirondacks, I looked at a large map I have on the wall of my
den on which I have stuck pins marking the places I've flown. I looked at
it to see where else in the Adirondacks I've been, and I found the answer.
The color of the pin identified the plane I was flying and I knew where to
look in my logbook. I wasn't with my daughter after all. I landed at
Frontiertown on August 23, 1981. I was with the woman whom I would later
marry. We were returning to Cleveland from a trip to Nova Scotia.
I feel a LOT better now.
Thanks, again, for your help.
I was thinking about your idea of including a page on the Frontier Town
airstrip on your website, so I copied the entry from the Aircraft Owner's
and Pilot's Association "Airport Directory" for 1981. The AOPA Directory is
the 'bible' for private fliers for airport information. The data is
supplied by the airport operator -- in this case, likely by Art Bensen.
Based on this entry in the Directory, I decided to stop over at Frontier
NORTH HUDSON - Frontier Town (NY40). FSS: Glens Falls. VFR. New York
Sectional. Lat: 43-57, Long: 73-44. Elev: 865; 3 mi SW of city. Tel: (518)
532-7131. Runways: 5-23/2350 X 50, asphalt, gravel. Obstructions: p-lines S
end. Food: restaurant (May-Oct). Weather: (FSS) 793-2593. Storage: tiedowns.
Lodging Frontier Town Motel (532-7660/adj.) Tourist attractions: Frontier
Town (adj). Camping adj to arpt. NOTE: Private. Use at own risk.
This may be a useful addition to your page, as it is a standard aviation
directory description of the airport. I got this from the librarian at the
AOPA. The oldest Directory I still have is 1988, and there was no entry in
the Directory for the airport for that year.