Category Archives: Aviation

Private aviation industry updates and more

Mary Alverson turns her Love of Seaplanes and Teaching into a Business

Mary Alverson is pictured with her restored 1969 Piper Super Cub

For Mary Alverson of Wings Over Water, flying isn’t just a pasttime. She’s made it a way of life. And why not? Didn’t your mom and dad always tell you to pick a job you love? Well, Mary certainly must have heard that as a child! When I asked about her business and life she reported, “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than flying seaplanes.”

As owner of Wings Over Water Seaplane Certification Program, Mary offers current pilots training to earn their seaplane rating. A rating on a pilot’s license is like an additional endorsement on a driver’s license. For the training program Mary provides the airplane, a restored 1969 Piper Super Cub.

As expected, Mary had nothing but good words to say about seaplanes. “I love every aspect of flying seaplanes. I teach on other planes, but seaplanes are my passion. It doesn’t matter if I’m flying or teaching.”  And she has good reason. Mary explained to me how different and exciting it is to fly in a seaplane. And then, she showed me by taking me up in her Cub.

Rather than taking off from a well manicured and planned out airport, a seaplane pilot must learn to take off from and land on water. There are so many things to consider when the pilot becomes his or her own air traffic controller. They must be aware of wind speed and direction without being able to use top of the line technologies. Instead, they assess the waves on the top of the water. They must know how much wind speed correlates to a certain amount of waves. They must also keep in mind the space they have available. Are there boats coming? Leaving? What about land obstructions? In a lake like Gull Lake, there are many islands and points reaching out into the water that could obstruct take off or landing so pilots must be exceptionally cautious.

Flying a seaplane has its perks though. It’s an entirely different feeling landing on water. At take off, you get a smooth feeling of hydroplaning before a gentle lift off of the water. Then when landing, the water cradles the plane as the nose tips upward for a few seconds.

Water explodes upward in beautiful patterns as we land Mary's seaplane on Gull Lake. Pictured is one of the floats attached to the bottom of the seaplane.

It really is a great feeling. And Mary made sure to show me a landing and take off several times. She asserts it is the best part of flying seaplanes. And since seaplanes take off and land on water of lakes, rivers, and even oceans, there are always exceptionally beautiful views.

This is a view of Madden's Golf Villas (top left), the Madden Inn (top right), and the first tee and last hole on our Pine Beach East course.

A view of one of the peninsulas in Gull Lake

Mary has been lucky enough to combine her love for seaplanes and teaching into a career. At Madden’s we’ve been able to combine Mary’s skills with our hospitality to create a fanastic package for pilots looking to get their seaplane rating. Pilots can stay at Madden’s for 4 days/3 nights on a package that includes meals, golf, and flight time required for training. To learn more about the package, check out our recent post, Seaplane Certification at Madden’s.

Thanks Mary for so graciously offering me a ride in your seaplane. It was a beautiful flight! Elizabeth

**Have you earned your seaplane rating at Madden’s? We’d love to hear your story. Please comment below or email me at**


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Seaplane Expo Annually Graces the Shores of Madden’s

For the last two years, the Seaplane Pilot’s Association has hosted their expo at Madden’s. Not only do we love hosting their event, we absolutely love the view they provide. The shores of Steamboat Bay from our Marina to our Lodge are lined with seaplanes. Overflow “parking” can be found at the East Gull Lake Airport and along other shores of the resort.

Seaplanes line the shores of Steamboat Bay

Close up of the seaplanes docked along the shore in front of Madden's Sunrise Villas.

The group enjoys their time in trainings and seminars throughout the weekend, but our favorite part is their fly-over on Saturday. The skies fill with seaplanes!

A seaplane takes off from Gull Lake

A seaplane soars over Madden's on Gull Lake

**Have you been able to join us for the seaplane expo in the last few years? We’d love to hear about it! Share your favorite story by commenting below or emailing me at**

Until next time, Elizabeth


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Seaplane Certification at Madden’s on Gull Lake

If you’ve ever dreamed of gliding peacefully onto a pristine lake with your own plane, now you can.

A seaplane soars over Madden's on Gull Lake

Wings Over Water Inc. has teamed up with Madden’s on Gull Lake, the Midwest’s Top Fly-in Destination, to  offer a Sea Plane Rating and vacation package. Enjoy the comforts of our luxury resort while you train and earn your seaplane certification from some of the top sea plane pilots in the Upper Midwest. This unique partnership promises to bring you the most enjoyable aviation training experience ever provided.

Gull Lake and the Brainerd Lakes area features some of the most beautiful lake country flying available anywhere in the country. The combination of one thousand acres of resort facilities, 63 holes of championship
golf, fine dining and flying are enough to exceed any pilot’s expectations. Or if recreation is not your interest, how about a relaxing massage at Spalon Montage at Madden’s, located right on the shores of Gull Lake. Whatever your interests, Madden’s has something for everyone!

The Sea Plane Rating Package, includes four days/three nights lodging, breakfast and dinner each day, golf on our Pine Beach East or Pine Beach West golf courses and a special guest rate at “The Classic at Madden’s”,
Minnesota’s only Golf Digest 5-star rated golf course.

Wings Over Water Inc. will provide you with the opportunity to earn your certification in a Super Cub on floats. A total of six hours of flying time are included, the average time necessary to complete the program.

Instructor Mary Alverson poses with her training plane a restored 1969 Piper Super Cub

Madden’s on Gull Lake and Wings Over Water Inc. invite you to visit Minnesota’s northland for a true taste of the art of Sea Plane Flying.

For more information on this unique opportunity contact Ben Thuringer at 800-642-5363.

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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Aviation, Local Tidbits


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Nostalgic Wings Biplane Ride

Until just the other day, I didn’t know the difference between a biplane and a float plane. Okay, I get that a float plane is one with floats on it… but what is a biplane? I was lucky enough to find out!

I’ve been on an airplane several times. I’ve even been on a helicopter ride as a kid, but I have to say nothing compares to a ride on Nostalgic Wings’ old-fashioned biplane. Nostalgic Wings, of Rosemount, Minnesota, travels around to small airports around the Midwest giving biplane rides. The owner and pilot, Clay Adams, has many years of experience under his belt from corporate jets to flying as a Captain for Northwest. Flying was a family value growing up and Clay took his first solo flight at sixteen. So when Nostalgic Wings arrived at the East Gull Lake Airport across the road from Madden’s, I just had to try it!

The open cockpit allowed Clay and I the most amazing views. I knew Pine Beach Peninsula was beautiful, but words can’t describe how much better the area looks from above…

Madden's Resort on Pine Beach Peninsula on Gull Lake

You may think this photo looks nice–I think so–but even it isn’t as good as the real thing. If you are lucky enough to live near the airport Clay is taking off from, he will fly over your house for you! Wouldn’t that be fun!

The Lodge at Madden's

A young family enjoyed their flight as well

Beautiful View of Gull Lake Area

Clay’s daughter, Sky (hmmm… I wonder where he came up with that name?) informed me they will likely be returning to the East Gull Lake Airport later in the summer. You can view the full schedule for biplane rides online.

Even if you’re scared of flying, this is a trip I recommend taking! Elizabeth


Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Aviation, Local Tidbits, Recreation


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Aviation Today

At Madden’s we are lucky enough to be right next a small airport: East Gull Lake Airport. Some of our guests will fly in to join us. Cool right? We even have a nearby company (Wings over Water) who can help you get your seaplane certification while you visit. I just wanted to give you a little background in case you’re wondering why a resort would write about aviation.

The purpose of my post though is to share some good articles I’ve read about seaplanes and aviation in general. I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic, but I hope you will enjoy learning alongside me. First, I’ll brief you with some terms for those new to the industry:

AOPA: Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association
FAA: Federal Aviation Administration
AD: Airworthiness Directive
Cessna: a type of aircraft often used in

The Articles:

General Aviation Pilots Assist National Weather Service in Gathering Storm Damage Data

AOPA Not Satisfied with FAA’s Proposed AD on Cessna Icing

Forbes Offers New Website for Business Travelers (New website)

Free Aircraft Checklists

AirVenture Event in OshKosh to Host World’s Largest Airship

**Read an aviation article recently your found interesting? Please share! Comment below**

Fly Safe, Elizabeth

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Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Aviation, Recreation


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