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Fly-in Directions

Welcome to the former Naval Air Station Grosse Ile. My memories go back to the early sixties when my Dad was flying Skyraiders in the Naval Air Reserve. Before that his tour of duty included training RAF pilot candidates during WWII. The airport is located on the south end of the island it is named for and where the Detroit River empties into Lake Erie. While easy to fly to, its position tucked under Detroit ’s class B airspace and proximity to the Canadian border makes it worth the effort to have a plan in place. A Detroit terminal area chart is a must and also a good review of the special NOTAM’s regarding the border, nuclear plants, stadiums, etc is in order, we have them all.

Lets start with the easy way in. For those approaching from the west to southwest the Carleton VOR is a great target. Just continue east from the VOR to the shoreline and hang a left. This keeps you well north of the Fermi Nuclear plant, home of the world’s first plutonium fast breeder reactor and the world’s first major nuclear accident. For caution stay south of the class B’s 2,500’ shelf. If Metro is landing to the northeast the heavy iron can be and often is below the floor of this shelf. Wake turbulence is one thing, being a shiny hood ornament on a 747 is another.

From the south to southeast you may pass through Toledo ’s class C airspace or skirt around to the east of it. Toledo ’s controllers give great service for flight following. Be careful east of downtown Toledo , as there is a large farm of 1,000’ towers. Follow the western shoreline north to Grosse Ile. You will pass a coal fired power plant and the Fermi plant along the way. Follow the current NOTAM for dealing with these.

From the east, once you’re past Cleveland the hard part is over. If following along lake Erie watch out for the nuclear plant northeast of Port Clinton. Followed by a restricted area extending into the lake for a mortar and machine gun range. Then there are a couple of wildlife areas. If you are flying over Lake Erie , the Cleveland FSS provides lake reporting flight plan service.

From the north or northwest the class B sits in your way. VFR clearance through the airspace is often rated with biblical miracles. But there is a way. The innovative controllers at Metro have an unofficial flyway known as ‘The Cage’. Plan to be over the Salem VOR at 3,500 and contact approach on 118.95 giving them your location, altitude, destination and request to fly ‘The Cage’. Sounding good on the radio will improve your chances for approval. When approved vectors and altitude changes will be given right to Grosse Ile. Be careful to not enter the class B without a clearance. This is a hot item with the FAA for busts in this area.

In general, watch out for the class B and the border. Enjoy sightseeing up the river and take in the Ambassador Bridge and downtown Detroit . The Detroit River is the world’s busiest waterway. You might see some of the 1,000’ ore boats. It is also a busy VFR flyway. More than once I have come nearly nose to nose with the Yankee Lady, the Yankee Air Force’s B-17 flying tours along the river.