Nick Clattenburg first learned about airparks working out West.

Just outside the city of Salem, Ore., he saw what a fly-in community could look like - a bunch of pilots living in homes next to their hangars with a runway just outside the door.

"It just kind of took off from there," Clattenburg said. "That's what I wanted to live in long-term."

Now he's planning to bring one to the Northland.

With a plot of land purchased in Grand Lake Township just off Highway 53 near Twig, Clattenburg plans to develop it into about 20 residential lots with a grass runway down the middle.

"It's too large for myself so let's turn 'er into an airpark," Clattenburg said.

Flights will only be allowed in daylight and good weather, Clattenburg said.

Clattenburg, who does contract work with the Federal Aviation Administration and used to work at Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth, knows there are interested pilots in the area.

Off the top of his head, Rick Braunig, manager of aviation safety and enforcement at the Minnesota Department of Transportation, can only think of five or six in the state.

There are a steady stream of individual landowners wanting to put a private runway on their land every year, but there are very few airpark applicants, Braunig said.

But he can see the appeal.

"It's a way for people to live with their aircraft," Braunig said. "A lot of people buy lake homes so they can be on the lake and walk out their door and get on the boat ... So an airpark is kind of a similar thing - people who love to go flying, they can have a home and walk out their backdoor and go get in the airplane."

While Cassandra Isackson, the office of aeronautics director at MnDOT gave Clattenburg's airpark the preliminary thumbs up - the department believes the landing area is safe for an airport - the airpark still needs the final OK.

"We don't do a final approval until it's constructed," Braunig said. "We can make a visit and see that it meets our standards."

Kelly Akhund, a MnDOT aviation representative, said the department will be ensuring the runways are wide enough, long enough and clear of any obstructions.

"Since this is an airpark, we look at it a little bit more ... just making sure that vehicles and airplanes aren't mixed," Akhund said. "We want to make sure that everybody's going to be safe since there's going to be more than just one airplane coming in and out of there."

Barbara Hayden, the St. Louis County director of planning and community development, said Clattenburg's land was recently rezoned to accommodate the airpark, but he'll still need land-use permits from the county.

"We've been in discussions with him and it's early concept, but we'll work through it and work with the township," Hayden said.

Clattenburg hopes to have everything approved, lots ready and the runway open late next year.

"High in the sky dream is end of the summer next year," Clattenburg said.

Go to for more information on the proposed airpark.