Washington Island

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Making sure 2P2 is safe and available for generations to come. Facts on Safety and Improvement


Those that have put in significant effort in assembling documentation, completing applications, meeting with the WDOT, complying with regulatory necessity have done so with the intent and belief that it is of obvious significant benefit to the island community (for the reasons described below). By contrast, as fellow residents, it is absolutely NOT the intent of those contributing to this effort to inflict any damage to either the island, or the harmony of the community. Any activity that the [well-informed] island community decides is not in the island's best interest will not be pursued.

All of us that pay taxes on Washington Island care about whether the airport is draining resources from the town budget and/or increasing our taxes. It is not. If we manage airport improvement opportunities correctly, we should be able to get them done without costing the Town anything.

Many (all?) of the pilots at the airport believe that Washington Island is one of the best places in the world to be a pilot because of the freedom the US citizens have to fly, and the island's geography and proximity to desirable destinations that make flying more utilitarian than almost anywhere else in the world. The idea that an island resident would NOT have a pilot's license and leverage the airport is an enigma. For that reason, the Friends of Washington Island Airport is pursuing a separate effort to identify and remove barriers to any island resident who wants to fly. For more information contact sf_2p2_flying_club@paulwehr.com

Reasons for submitting Airport plan to WDOT

  • Federal and state money is available to pay for improvements to the Washington Island airport, but that funding REQUIRES that the request be a part of a formal Petition process approved by the town board. Without the petition, none of the Federal and State money is available to the island, and all airport maintenance and improvement costs would be borne entirely by the taxpayers of the town of Washington Island. The exception to this is Covid Relief Funds that have been made available for other than petitioned projects at our airport.

  • If grants are extended, the FAA will pay for 90% and the Wisconsin DOT will pay 5% of the costs of any approved initiative. Other income sourcing could be obtained so that the town would pay nothing. This means that at a minimum, the Town of Washington would receive $20 of infrastructure improvements for every $1 invested. This is, by far, the best ROI available to the Town of Washington anywhere.

  • The money is a use-it-or-lose-it. If the island does not follow the procedures to receive the funds, the island residents do not get a refund of their federal and state taxes. The island resident's Federal and State taxes simply go to improve some other airport.

  • The airport is one of only two ways on or off the island. While there are several boat ramps/docks around the island, there is only one airport.

  • The airport is, by far, the most time-efficient transport hub available to island residents. Island residents can be in:

    • Escanaba in less than 11 minutes (at 100KTAS) to connect via Delta Airlines to airports all over the world.

    • Ephraim: 0:13, Sturgeon Bay: 0:23, Green Bay International Airport: 0:44

  • The airport is transportation infrastructure, not a for-profit business. It is not expected to [directly] "pay for itself" any more than, say, paving Gasoline Town road would.

Reasons for Paved Runway/Taxiways

  • Insurance: Island residents have already been dropped from coverage specifically because of the sod runway surface. It is increasingly difficult to find insurers that will cover landing on sod, and may eventually be unavailable altogether, which would effectively close the airport to all island residents and tourism.
  • Maintenance costs: Plowing a 75' wide paved runway is faster, cheaper and easier than plowing a 200' wide sod runway. Light snowfall on asphalt is often dissipated with sun radiation during winter months. It would also eliminate the township's expense of effecting repairs on the damage to the sod runway in the spring.
  • Accessibility to tourism: Transient aircraft that would spend tourist money on the island may be hesitant to use an increasingly uncommon sod runway, but would have no issue with a paved runway.
  • Training of new pilots is almost exclusively done on paved surfaces. The ability to train from the local airport will remove a significant barrier to future generations of Island Residents being able to leverage their local airport. Grass does not meet objective braking and rolling resistance standards, thus, insurance becomes questionable, especially in our litigious society.
  • Maintaining a reasonably smooth taxiway and runway surface is difficult with sod as the surface is subject to seasonal displacement in the spring thaw.
  • Washington Island has joined the Great Lakes Island Alliance. Of all the populated Great Lakes islands with airports (8 ?), Washington Island has the only unpaved runway while having the largest population. WHY is this?
  • Washington island boasts of its many miles of paved roads. Has this increased the number of cars coming to the island to drive on paved roads? The fear of a paved runway has become irrational. 
Reasons for a pilot welcome space
  • Provides the island community a flexible meeting and/or storage space at a 95% discount.
  • Encourage tourism traffic by providing a comfortable, welcoming facility that pilots can use to get weather briefings, file flight plans, and wait out bad weather.
  • Could be built economically by adding to the existing maintenance building.
  • Would eliminate the unsanitary pit toilet and provide for hand washing.
  • The Island airport is part of the National Airways System airports of refuge within the airways system (NIPIAS)


  • The island’s (or any community’s) viability is tied directly to its economic base
  • The island’s only current significant economic export is tourism
  • Certified pilots are a highly desirable tourist segment because:
    1. Have disposable income to, at minimum, support GA  (general aviation) travel
    2. Logistically capable of visiting, spending money, and leaving, all on the same day while traveling significant distances
    3. Highly familiar with, understanding and complying in an extensive regulatory environment (helpful in, for example, following beach and park rules)
    4. Motivated to avoid consuming inappropriate amounts of alcohol (or any, in fact, on the day of departure, as the legal BAC for pilots is 0.03%)
    5. Medical certification means they typically pass at least a bi-annual drug screen and other health qualifications
    6. Are, without exception*, polite, deferential and generous (*admittedly subjective, based on personal experience. YMMV)
  • Increasing property values is more desirable than decreasing, or stagnant property values
  • More airport traffic is preferred over less, because it represents either:
    1. Increase in tourism
    2. Increase in island residents utilization of the airport

Setting The Record Straight

  • Washington Island Airport is receiving the Master Plan for free. No matching funds needed.
  • Island Airport Committee held an open meeting where the plan was discussed and forward to the Town Board. We believe that the Town board approved the draft petition by airport committee and was to be forwarded to WIDOT
  • A Master Plan must be put into place to aid in safely maintaining the airport and accessing funds available to the airport.
  • There was $53,000.00 in covid relief funds that was available to the Town sitting at state, no obligations and no matching funds needed. The funds can be applied to maintenance. Hans applied. State needed more information. Hans is waiting on a reply from the state to the information he submitted.
  • A Pilot Welcome Center was proposed to be a multi-purpose facility to increase meeting rooms for Island resident use. Perhaps even Pilot training and Maintenance Training. These welcome type facilities are all over Wisconsin and other neighboring states and show off the community in a positive light.
  • 2P2 is self-sustaining now and will continue to be that way. Spreading currently pays for the airports cost. This shouldn’t change for years to come. If it does, alternate sources of income can and will be considered.
  • Paving a runway doesn't automatically mean more tree cutting. Based on proper planning Runway Protection Zones don’t need to be increased.
  • Paved runways are statistically safer.
  • A paved runway does not guarantee that larger airplanes will be flying in.
  • The Town of Washington Island is already committed to staying open for monies it has already received. This has been the same for many years.
  • Multiple affected residents on the Island were paid significant dollars for air rights over their property.
  • Development and/or expansion will not greatly increase burdens and associated cost.
  • Lead is being phased out of General Aviation with alternative fuels now starting to go into production.
  • New pilot starts are up.
  • There are more pilots flying now than in past years.,
  • There is a current Pilot Shortage which the Washington Island Schools could take advantage of with Stem based training for students.
  • With improvements at the airport Maintenance Training and Flight Training could occur at the airport. Offering Island Students, a good paying career in aviation.
  • We will call Hal Davis as we believe he was mis-quoted. When quoted, Hal stated that most airports are not self-sustaining. We believe that doesn’t consider the economic impact of an airport, the monies it brings into the community.


Please take a moment to sign our petition below to help protect the Washington Island Airport. 2P2 has been in existence longer than O’Hare airport and we want to make sure that continues. There are a vocal few that want to see the airport constrained out of existence.

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