Mackinac Island Airport

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I spent Friday on Mackinac (pronounced MAH-kih-naw) island with Mary, Cole, and Ella. They’re staying in Traverse City for the summer and I drove up to see them Thursday night. Mackinaw City is about two hours from Traverse and we boarded the ferry for the Island at about 11:00.

After heading around the perimeter of the island, on bikes (motor vehicles are prohibited on the island – there’s an ambulance and a fire truck and that’s it), I headed into the interior to have a look at the airport.

Mackinac Island Airport (KMCD) is operated by the Michigan state parks system. It has a single strip of pavement (Runway 8/26; 3,500 x 75 in good condition) and, from the looks of the ramp, it can handle anything from piston singles to bizjets.

There’s no fuel on the island (you can get it at Pellston, a quick hop away), but just about anything else you might want.

The terminal building is well-appointed with waiting area, weather, and restrooms. A park ranger attends the airport during business hours and travelers gain access to the terminal building at other hours using the MDOT codes for the doors.

The big difference is when you get to the taxi stand. It is, of course, horse-drawn. You load up everything on the back, climb on, and take a 30 to 40-minute ride down to town on the south side of the island. The airport is a good 400 feet above town, so it’s a real pedal to get there on a bike (as I did), but a pleasant coast back down from the airport.

If you go, be sure to read up in advance on procedures. There’s an active noise abatement program. I always see a fair amount of GA activity around the coast on the south side of the island, so it makes me wonder how strictly they enforce the procedures, but do your part and play by the rules.
About Steve Tupper

Stephen Force is the superhero alter ego of mild-mannered tech and aviation lawyer, commercial pilot (glider, with private privileges in ASEL, ASES, AMEL, IA, and DC-3 (SIC) type-rated), and Civil Air Patrol lieutenant colonel Steve Tupper. Steve writes, records, and brings you the inside story about everything that really matters in aviation. He's flown with the USAF Thunderbirds, he's and airshow performer and air boss, and he's one of only five pilots ever to earn a FAST card in the glider category. Follow Steve's ongoing quest to do all that is cool in aviation at or on Twitter as @StephenForce.


  1. heard this was a great place to go from someone else too. It's on my list.

  2. I live on the island year-round and that little airport is our life line from early January until April – while the boats aren't running. We are so thankful to have it!

  3. As a pilot living in Michigan, I've been meaning to make a flight up to Mackinac for a while. It was featured in the latest AOPA Flight Training magazine as the top island destination. One important thing you forgot to mention is that the airport does charge a landing fee.

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