An Overhead View of Sky Manor

Welcome to Sky Manor Aero Estates

Sky Manor Aero Estates is an aircraft owners community located in the heart of Minnesota's premier lakes region, conveniently positioned just nine miles north of Park Rapids and its full-service, regional airport (PKD/KPKD).

Considered by many to be Minnesota's most-beautiful airpark, Sky Manor's airstrip MN86 is positioned on the western banks of Island Lake, part of the Fish Hook chain of lakes, and surrounded by oak, pine, and poplar forests.

Our private airstrip is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation as a Private Airport, and includes a 3200' turf (grass strip) runway plus a 1900' taxiway that is suitable for crosswind landings. Sky Manor's immediate proximity to Island Lake also allows for use of float planes and amphibian aircraft.

The airstrip is owned and maintained by the Sky Manor Aero Club, and property owners are guaranteed access to airport facilities via deeded easement.

Our Northern Minnesota Getaway!

Sky Manor is perfectly positioned for enthusiasts of flying, fishing, boating, biking, hiking, snowmobiling, and ATV riding. There are over 200 lakes and several state parks within 20 miles radius, including Itasca Sate Park to the north, Paul Bunyan Forest to the east, and Two Inlets Forest to the west. The ATV, OHV, and snowmobile enthusiast will enjoy exploring nearly 250 miles of locally groomed trails, and many more miles through the area forests, all easily accessible from your Sky Manor property. This is a great area for biking, with easy access to the 49-mile paved Paul Bunyan Trail (Heartland Trail), plus many miles biking around the local lakes and forests.

With immediate access to US Highway 71, Sky Manor MN86 is conveniently located just minutes from Park Rapids, Dorset, and Nevis, and a short drive to Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, and Walker. With a regional population of nearly thirty thousand, the Park Rapids area is active all year, offering unique dining and shopping, many family resorts, hotels and campgrounds, and ten local golf courses, including one course just a mile south of Sky Manor. Frequent summer festivals and music events include "We Fest" in Detroit Lakes, stage plays at the Long Lake and other local theaters, Nevis Muskie Days and Ufda Fest in Nevis, the "Taste of Dorset", and even the annual Rodeo.

Park Rapids Minnesota

The History of Sky Manor Aero Estates

Willard Kirtland "Bill" Blewett's "New Design for Living"

Blewett's Design for Living

Sky Manor Aero Estateswas developed in the 1950's by Willard K. "Bill" Blewett and his wife Eliza Swan Blewett,long-time veterans of the Park Rapids area and former owners of the "Vacationaire Resort" on Island Lake. Being a licensed pilot himself, Bill enjoyed flying around the north country and visiting with friends and guests from all over the United States. He recognized the need for a private aircraft owner community like Sky Manor where people could build their own lake homes and have immediate access to their own private airstrip. On 193 acres of wooded land he and Eliza owned across the lake from Vacationaire, Blewett began building his "Design for Living" dream in 1955 and filed the original survey of Sky Manor Aero Estates with Hubbard County in August of 1960.

The Original Postcard of Sky Manor

Featured in the February 1959 issue of Flying magazine,Sky Manor Aero Estates was named America's first planned community designed for aircraft owners.

As shown in the nearby postcard, Blewett envisioned Sky Manor would expand to include an 18-hole golf course, beach area, and several additional taxiways. The caption on the back of the postcard reads, "Sky Manor Aero Estates. America's First Planned Aircraft Owner Community, where you taxi your plane right up to your door. Air Age, 'Design for Living' in Northern Minnesota's four-season vacation paradise. Fly-in lakeshore home sites. Expansion program includes 18 hole golf course with fly-in fairway home sites and lakeshore community beach."

Blewett's Original Sky Manor Sales Pitch

Sky Manor Aero Estates Flyer

Within several sales brochures and flyers, developer Bill Blewett described the "Essentials of a survival retreat as provided at Sky Manor Aero Estates:"

  1. A family survival retreat to which your airplane could provide "wings of survival" in case of emergency
  2. A north woods airport home site at which you can land and taxi your plane right up to your door
  3. A home in the "North Country" where sky blue waters and year-round sports blend with carefree living

Sky Manor Aero Estates Flyer

Bill explained in those brochures, "What you are really buying" in the Minnesota Lakes Region is:

  1. Multi-Use Concept - Weekend sojourns, extended 4-season vacations: Year-round or retirement home: Emergency Retreat.
  2. Sparsely Populated Area - Small farms, Christmas tree plantations and logging
  3. Good distance from metropolitan area - Nearest town: Park Rapids, Mn - 10 miles
  4. Aircraft Owner Community - Owner home sites - 120 Acres of timber for fuel, if needed
  5. Ample area for cooperative farming - Raising of meat and dairy animals, poultry and vegetables for food. Hunting and fishing a plus factor
  6. Ample availability of good drinking water
  7. High and dry elevation free from threat of floods - Average elevation: 40 to 45 feet above lake level
  8. Availability of cooperative professional and vocational services among present property owners - medical - dental - farming - building - mechanical - electrical
  9. Adequate firearms for defense and/or hunting
  10. Good distance from nuclear target centers
  11. On-Site airport facilities for emergency use of member aircraft owners and their families

Of course, Bill included the famous Will Rogers quote, "Buy land! They ain't making any more of the stuff."

"An Airman's Dream of the 'North Country' "

Below is Bill Blewett's Poem about living the Sky Manor dream.

"Those who have shared the ecstasy of winging over Northern Minnesota's lakes and pines know its breathtaking beauty. Those who have longed for a spot of their own to 'set her down' know what I'm talking about.

It's a land that savors of laughter and lilt ... of carefree living and year-round sports ... of summer fun and sky blue waters ... the zest of winter skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing ... a hint of boyhood dreams ... and clean, crisp air.

It's a storied land rich in the lore of early voyagers and birch-bark prows ... a world apart from the asphalt jungles and stress of city living ... a setting where one can commune with nature ... so far away, and yet as near as one's airplane.

So, crank up the 'bird' and head to 'Happy Land,' where your wings are home when you are."

                By Willard Kirtland "Bill" Blewett, January 1979
                Original Developer of Sky Manor Aero Estates
                b: 22 August 1900 - d: 11 May 1991

The Founding of Sky Manor Aero Club

Bill Blewett designed Sky Manor to be a "Private-Commercial Airport" that meets public airport licensing safety requirements, but is only open to Sky Manor property owners and their guests. He created the Sky Manor Aero Club for the purpose of managing the private airpark and guaranteeing access to property owners in perpetuity by virtue of a 99-year renewable lease owned by the club. Sky Manor Aero Club, Inc. has been incorporated in the State of Minnesota since May 24, 1967. Click here to view an early invitation to the annual meeting signed by Bill Blewett.

For the first 52-years of existence, Sky Manor Aero Club was technically the "lessee" of Sky Manor Airport, holding a legally guaranteed claim to the runway property through a 99-year, perpetual lease. During the 2020 annual meeting, the aero club decided to officially purchase the runway, allowing us to finally nullify the lease and record it in our history books. The runway is now owned by the Sky Manor Aero Club.

The Sky Manor Aero Club meets annually to discuss business and enjoy the traditional pot luck buffet dinner. Annual business includes the allocation of funds for runway/taxiway maintenance, the introduction and organization of new projects, and the discussion of other events and news for airman. Sky Manor Aero Club is funded through a modest annual membership fee. Runway/Taxiway maintenance is done through a combination of member volunteers and contract services.

Sky Manor in the Headlines

As one of America's original fly-in communities, Sky Manor Aero Estates has been featured in many aviation publications over the years. Click the links below to view the articles.

  1. Flying Magazine, 1959
  2. Newark Star Ledger, 1967
  3. Fargo Forum, 2005
  4. Park Rapids Enterprise, 2009

The Development of Sky Manor

The dream of Sky Manor began in the 1950's on 193 acres of land that Blewett and his wife Eliza Swan Blewett had owned since 1944. The orignal 1960 survey included the runway and the lake lots. In 1978, the one-acre hangar lots were developed, and in 2007, the remaining property within Sky Manor was developed and wrapped into the 2007 Registered Land Survey. The 2014 survey further divided the three large tracts along the northern edge of the runway into five runway access lots.

Take a look at this early 1879 survey of the region, and this version with MN86 shown as a reference.

Original Sky Manor Surveys

  1. Original Sky Manor Survey, 1960
  2. First Addition to Sky Manor, 1978
  3. Second Registered Land Survey No. 7, 2007
  4. Second Addition to Sky Manor Aero Estates, 2014

Covenants and Property Rules

  1. Covenants for the original 1960 lake lots
  2. Covenants for all other lots defined in the 2007 survey
  3. Bylaws of Sky Manor Aero Club
  4. Original 99-Year Renewable Lease Owned by Sky Manor Aero Club
  5. Deeded Easement to Runway/Taxiway

Our Sky Manor Heroes

Cliff Peterson

Feb 27, 1923 - Sept 11, 2016

Our friend and neighbor Cliff Peterson lived on Lot 18 at Sky Manor Aero Estates for over 30 years with his wife Marian. Originally from St. Paul and a 1948 graduate of University of Minnesota, Cliff enjoyed a 32-year career in 3M's Treasury and Engineering Division. Having purchased a Sky Manor lake lot in 1974, Cliff was instrumental in our history by serving as safety officer and treasurer for many years. After retirement, Cliff built his own RV-6 airplane, which he flew frequently at Sky Manor until he was 92. Pictured with with the former Blue Angels commander, Cliff was honored at the 2015 Fargo Airshow as the oldest flying pilot in MN.

We honor Cliff for his service to our country during WWII from 1942-1945, when he performed submarine patrol on a Hawaii-based aircraft carrier and flew TMB Avengers in the Philippines. Cliff described landing at Sky Manor MN86 to be much like "landing on an aircraft carrier without the waves."

Timothy Henry Kjellberg

April 19, 1945 - August 7, 2023

Tim Kjellberg at the annual Sky Manor Fly-In

Our neighbor Tim Kjellberg was born in Minneapolis, MN, and graduated from MIT in 1967 with degrees in engineering and management.  Tim had a 36-year career in advanced engineering with Garrett Ai Research in Phoenix where he worked as tech specialist and project engineer manager on turbine engines, including development and testing of the auxiliary power unit.  Tim owned several aircraft during his years, in which he and his late wife, Betty, flew across Canada and the U.S. on camping adventures.  Tim enjoyed a full life at Sky Manor. His father Henry Kjellberg bought their property at Sky Manor (Lot 2) from Bill Blewett in the early 1960s.  He enjoyed Sky Manor as of late with his wife, Jacque.  He enjoyed tinkering on all things mechanical and loved his Swedish heritage.

Dr. Chester William Burkhart

Feb. 26, 1917 - Feb. 10, 2003

Chet was born in Chaska, MN, and graduated from the University of Minnesota Dental School in 1939 and began his dental practice in North Minneapolis. Chet served as a Naval Reserve officer for 18 years, including active duty for 54 months during WWII with the U.S. Navy and 5th Marine Division, and became oral surgeon for the 5th Marines.  Chet married his wife Madalyn on Feb. 14, 1942, and honeymooned on Lake Vermillion (Minnesota) in July, 1942, during which it snowed several days according to Chet and Madalyn.  Chet was a commercial instrument pilot with a glider and helicopter rating.  He was an accomplished magician and was the hit of many parties, especially when performing his "milk" trick when he would pour a pitcher of milk into a coned newspaper. With a few magic words the milk would disappear.  He learned to fly in a 40 hp Piper J2, and during his years, owned an Ercoupe, a Cessna 170, and several Beechcraft Bonanzas. His last airplane being a well-equipped 285 hp Bonanza.  Chet and Madalyn owned Sky Manor Lots 3-4. According to friends and neighbors, he made a mean Manhattan!

Milton Lewis Moon

Dec. 16, 1922 - 2021

Dr. Milton Moon was born in New Providence, IA, and graduated in 1943 from Iowa State Teachers College - Cedar Falls with a degree in Mathematics.  In August, 1943, he was commissioned an ensign in the Naval Reserve and studied radar development at Harvard and MIT, specializing in navigational radio aids.  He spent WW-II in the Aleutian Islands, working radar and navigation.  He completed his service in the Navy as a lieutenant.  Following the war, Milton went to graduate school at State University of Iowa in Iowa City, and in 1951 received a Ph.d in Physics.  In July 1951 he joined the Applied Physics Laboratory staff at John Hopkins University, where he worked on radar systems, missile guidance systems, and total weapon systems for U.S. Navy ships.  In the late 1960s, Dr. Moon served as program manager for development of the Navy's surface missile system, and later undertook direction of an environmental study group which dealt with power plant siting.  Milt was a private pilot and owned several aircraft over the years, - mostly Beechcraft Bonanzas.  He flew aircraft extensively for business and pleasure. Dr. Moon owned Lot 5 at Sky Manor.

Albin Louis Katzner

Aug 5, 1938 - May 7, 2014

Born and raised in Albany, MN, Al Katzner graduated from Albany High School in 1956 and then entered the United States Army that same year.  After completing basic training at Leonardwood, MO, he then served active duty while stationed at Fort Lewis, WA, until receiving honorable discharge in February 1962.  After his service he returned to Minnesota to work in the cement masonry trade, and later began his own cement contracting company in the 1960's called the "Albin Katzner Cement Company".  Al was an avid outdoorsman, especially deer hunting and fishing on Island Lake.  He and his wife Pat purchased their home at Sky Manor (Lot A) in February 1990, and live there until Al died in 2014.  Al and Pat were very involved in the Park Rapids area and were instrumental in the formation of the Headwaters Animal Shelter.  Al was a strong supporter of our flying community.

Alvin J. Weidner

July 27, 1927 - August 11, 1995

Al was born in St. Martin, MN.  He served in the army in Alaska and Colorado, and was part of the South Dakota National Guard. Al made his career as sales rep for the Bradford Lumber Company.  His hobbies were woodworking and poker; in fact, one circuit breaker in his house was -is- labeled "poker room".  His poker games were legendary and newcomers to Sky Manor were warned, "Don't get into a poker game with Al. He's a professional."  His poker buddies included Darrell “Chip” Wadena, the longtime leader of the White Earth Nation.  When buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in Two Inlets, MN, one poker buddy threw a deck of cards into the coffin and remarked, "Have these shuffled by the time I get up there".  His wife, Mary, described Al as a bull-headed German.  Al and Mary were residents of Sky Manor (Lot 7) from June 1973 to September 1993.

John H. Ramlo

March 3, 1931 - Feb. 16, 2010

John Ramlo was born in LaCrosse, WI, and graduated with both a Doctor of Dental Surgery and a Masters of Physiology from the University of Minnesota. He later earned his Medical Doctor degree from the University of Wisconsin.  John served as a medical officer on the U.S.S. Valley Forge, and also medical officer at the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Charleston, and Philadelphia.  While in the Navy he became a commercial-instrument and multi-engine pilot, plus CFI and CFII.  Following his active duty, he became Chief of the Department of Otolaryngology for Dakota Clinic in Fargo.  He was an accomplished clarinet and tenor sax player, and enjoyed playing in the El Sagal’s Shrine Big Band as well as the Fargo Theater all Stars.  John was also an active and honored Mason in the Fargo Morehead area, receiving the Chevalier Degree as a young man, and later in life becoming a 33rd Degree Mason and Sovereign Grand Inspector General of the Scottish Rite. The hangar John built at Sky Manor included a climate-controlled library with the theme of “Freedom.” John and his wife LoAnn owned Sky Manor Lots 10-12.

Wesley H. Burnham

1914 - Jan 14, 2014

Wesley Burnham and his float plane

Wesley Burnham was a highly respected orthopedic surgeon, an avid hunter and fisherman, and a private pilot.  He lived to be 100 and was loved by many. When at Sky Manor, he owned a Cessna 182 and a Cessna 180 on floats. Wes and his wife Esther Burnham owned lots 13-15 at Sky Manor.

Galen J. Eash

Sept 2, 1939 - March 16, 2014

Galen grew up in Goshen, IN, and graduated from Goshen College in 1961, and later Jefferson Medical School - Philadelphia in 1965.  He served his residency in family practice in St. Paul, MN, and started a practice in Casselton, ND, in the late '50's/early '60's.  In 1979, he joined a small independent physicians group in Fargo, ND. Dr. Eash owned lot 17 at Sky Manor.

John Huls

September 25, 1947 - August 19, 2013

Although John Huls was born in Washington D.C. on Sept 25, 1947, he grew up in Holdingford, MN, and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in 1969.  John enjoyed three distinct careers during his lifetime. In 1971, he joined the Air Force and trained as a fighter pilot, flying F106s earning the nickname "Hollywood".  He also became an instructor pilot in air-to-air combat and air refueling.  He was most proud of an unofficial record of flying around the perimeter of the U.S. in record time.  After leaving the Air Force in 1979, John flew for the Duluth National Guard.  Later in life, he pursued his love of flying by owning various planes including a DeHavilland Beaver, Beech Baron, Cessna 182, and a Mig Jet Trainer, which he donated to the Fargo Air Museum.  In 1979, John joined Piper Jaffray and Hopwood as a broker, later becoming branch manager of the St. Cloud office and overseeing the growth of three branches.  In 1993, after the death of his brother Herbert, John acquired ownership of Huls Trucking in St. Joseph, MN, and turned his energies to learning the trucking business and growing that company. John was a risk taker his whole life.  When diagnosed with brain cancer, he volunteered for several experimental trials.  John was a true gentleman, a kind and generous man with a great sense of humor. He treasured his lifelong friendships and enjoyed many fishing trips to Canada and Alaska. He also loved his time up north, ultimately building a beautiful log home for his family in Park Rapids in 2005. John and his wife Kathy owned lot 19 at Sky Manor.

William John Engen

June 14, 1923 - March 1, 2019

Bill started as an aircraft mechanic for Northwest Airlines on Dec. 13, 1951, and retired as a Northwest Airlines first officer.

Dale Jorgenson

1916 - July 16, 2007

Dale Jorgenson was originally from Rock County, MN. He made it big on a livestock feeding invention, according to a neighbor, and was a big car collector.  He was proud of his Norwegian heritage.  His wife was a one-room schoolhouse teacher.  When asked by Chet Burkhart whether he was going to be cremated or embalmed, his response was, "I want to come walking out”.

Local Area Links

  1. Park Rapids Lakes Area
    Where the mighty Mississippi begins, and the adventure never ends.
  2. Park Rapids, Mn
    The small town with the extra wide main street.
  3. Nevis, Mn
    Meet me at the Muskie!
  4. Park Rapids Enterprise Newspaper
  5. Hubbard County, Mn
  6. Nevis Trailblazers Snowmobile Club
  7. Long Lake Theater
  8. Park Theater
  9. Run Away Bay Beach Club Association

Favorite Restaurants

  1. Foxy's Bar and Grill, on Island Lake
  2. Bella Cafe
  3. Rapid River Logging Camp
  4. Royal Bar
  5. The Good Life Cafe
  6. Zorbaz on the Lake

Minnesota DNR Links

  1. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
  2. Minnesota DNR Fishing Page
  3. Minnesota Lakes Finder
  4. Itasca State Park
  5. Snowmobile Trail Conditions