Alton Bay’s Ice Runway

Alton Bay Airport courtesy

Looking for an interesting, deep winter flying adventure? This just might be it!

Alton Bay Ice Runway, located on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, is the only FAA Ice Runway in the U.S. It’s also the only airport that’s a public-use Seaplane Base in the summer and a plowed ice runway in the winter. Annually, the runway usually opens mid to late January, once the ice is 12+” thick. But winter temperatures can fluctuate dramatically, so best to verify this one-of-a-kind runway is actually operational before you head that direction.

At New Hampshire Gov. reports:

Alton Bay Ice Runway and Seaplane Base (B18) is a state owned, public-use general aviation airport
in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire (NH). It is classified as a Basic Airport within the New
Hampshire State Airport System Plan (NHSASP). Located two miles north of Alton, the airport is an
ice runway during the winter and a seaplane base in the summer. During the winter, Runway 01/19 is
plowed and marked as 100’ wide and 2,600’ long. A parallel taxiway and aircraft parking apron are also
provided. The Bureau of Aeronautics developed a basic Airport Layout Plan for the airport, which
provides a guide each year in placing the runway in the proper location on the ice and ensuring
adequate clearances can be maintained for the safety of all users on Alton Bay each winter. The
volunteer managers of B18 have recently provided a small warming hut for pilots visiting the area to
get warm and learn a little about the community.

Alton Bay Airport, Angela Leedy of Pittstown N.J., looks for a parking spot after flying three hours to the only ice runway in the Lower 48 states approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, 2015 photo courtesy Detroit Free Press,

For anyone new to Alton Bay and considering this icy fly-in adventure, it’d be wise to participate in New England FAASTeam‘s upcoming Webinar:

FAA Safety Team | Safer Skies Through Education
“Alton Bay Ice Runway Operations for 2020!”
Topic: Flight operations at the Alton Bay Ice Runway, located on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.On Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 09:30 Eastern Standard Time (06:30 PST, 07:30 MST, 08:30 CST, 04:30 HST, 05:30 AKST, 07:30 Arizona, 14:30 GMT) Select Number:EA6197424Description:We missed the webinar last year due to the Government Shutdown, but not the airport –  we were flying there! Each winter, a unique airport in New England opens for just a short time. It is a great opportunity to try something new and challenging and experience some terrific winter flying. It also requires good Aeronautical Decision Making – Are you ready for both? To view further details and registration information for this webinar, click here.The sponsor for this seminar is: New England FAASTeam. The following credit(s) are available for the WINGS/AMT Programs: Basic Knowledge 1 – 1 Credit  Click here to view the WINGS help page

Most pilots visiting Alton Bay Airport have nothing but rave reviews about their experience. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few surprised pilots and passengers arriving at Alton Bay the last few years. If you go, study up and make sure you’re up for the task. Hopefully 2020 will be free from pictures in this vein!

Alton Bay courtesy

Alton Bay courtesy

Alton Bay courtesy

And to prove just about any G.A. aircraft you happen to fly can make a tidy landing on ice, here’s a little video of multiple Alton Bay takeoffs and landings:

If you’ve flown into Alton Bay in the winter and have pictures, we’d love to read your personal “Alton Bay” story.  Contact me at or post comments below.

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