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 near Park Rapids. Considered by many to be Minnesota's most-beautiful airpark, Sky Manor (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. Sky Manor is conveniently located just nine miles north of the full-service, regional airport in Park Rapids (PKD/KPKD). 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. With immediate access to US Highway 71, Sky Manor Aero Estates MN86 is conveniently located just minutes from Park Rapids, Dorset, and Nevis, and a short drive to Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, and Walker. There are over 200 lakes within 20 miles, plus hundreds of miles of public forest trails between Itasca Sate Park (just 10 miles north) to the Paul Bunyan Forest and Two Inlets Forests just 10 miles east and west. Although the Park Rapids area has a quaint, small-town feel, the Lakes Region population draws nearly 30,000 people, and provides the strong economic base to make this area lively all year long. See below for area links and details.
The History of Sky Manor Aero Estates
Willard Kirtland "Bill" Blewett's "New Design for Living"
Sky Manor Aero Estateswas developed in the early 1950's by Willard K. "Bill" Blewett,a long-time veteran of the Park Rapids area and former owner 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 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.
It's no surprise that our airport elevation is 1,492 feet above MSL. Just as America was discovered in 1492, America's first aircraft-owners community, Sky Manor MN86, was built at 1,492 feet. Featured in the February 1959 issue of Flying magazine,Sky Manor Aero Estates was named America's first private airpark community.
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
Within several sales brochures and flyers, developer Bill Blewett described the "Essentials of a survival retreat as provided at Sky Manor Aero Estates:"
- A family survival retreat to which your airplane could provide "wings of survival" in case of emergency
- A north woods airport home site at which you can land and taxi your plane right up to your door
- A home in the "North Country" where sky blue waters and year-round sports blend with carefree living
Bill explained in those brochures, "What you are really buying" in the Minnesota Lakes Region is:
- Multi-Use Concept - Weekend sojourns, extended 4-season vacations: Year-round or retirement home: Emergency Retreat.
- Sparsely Populated Area - Small farms, Christmas tree plantations and logging
- Good distance from metropolitan area - Nearest town: Park Rapids, Mn - 10 miles
- Aircraft Owner Community - Owner home sites - 120 Acres of timber for fuel, if needed
- Ample area for cooperative farming - Raising of meat and dairy animals, poultry and vegetables for food. Hunting and fishing a plus factor
- Ample availability of good drinking water
- High and dry elevation free from threat of floods - Average elevation: 40 to 45 feet above lake level
- Availability of cooperative professional and vocational services among present property owners - medical - dental - farming - building - mechanical - electrical
- Adequate firearms for defense and/or hunting
- Good distance from nuclear target centers
- 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 in perpetuity by virtue of a 99-year renewable lease owned by the club. The club 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 rights from Bill Blewett's heir. At the time of purchase, the original lease was nullified and recorded in our history books.
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 America's first aircraft owner's community, Sky Manor Aero Estates has been featured in many aviation publications over the years. Click the links below to view the articles.
The Development of Sky Manor
The dream of Sky Manor began in about 1955 with the purchase of 192 acres of land. Within a few years, the overal design was developed and the runway was carved through the trees. 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.
Original Sky Manor Surveys
- Original Sky Manor Survey, 1960
- First Addition to Sky Manor, 1978
- Second Registered Land Survey No. 7, 2007
- Second Addition to Sky Manor Aero Estates, 2014
Covenants and Property Rules
Local Area Links
- Park Rapids Lakes Area
Where the mighty Mississippi begins, and the adventure never ends.
- Park Rapids, Mn
The small town with the extra wide main street.
- Nevis, Mn
Meet me at the Muskie!
- Park Rapids Enterprise Newspaper
- Hubbard County, Mn
- Nevis Trailblazers Snowmobile Club
- Long Lake Theater
- Park Theater
- Run Away Bay Beach Club Association
- Foxy's Bar and Grill, on Island Lake
- Bella Cafe
- Rapid River Logging Camp
- Royal Bar
- The Good Life Cafe
- Zorbaz on the Lake