big users of airport
By SANDY BROWN
Staff Writer, Brainerd Daily Dispatch
“Brainerd’s business outlook and potential would
certainly hurt without the airport. It makes us
as attractive as a metro area, and gives us an
edge as a place to go when a resort area is
The sentiment behind the words of Mike Rahn,
public relations manager for Madden’s Resorts,
is heartily echoed toward the Brainerd-Crow Wing
Airport by other resort owners and area
“It’s important for convention meeting planners
who schedule speakers who have to come from
distant points—a lot of those meetings wouldn’t
even be scheduled if they couldn’t get those
dignitaries here,” commented Dutch Cragun, owner
of Cragun’s Lodge and Conference Center.
“The airport is very significant to our landing
certain convention business,” added Rahn.
All of the major resorts contacted—Cragun’s,
Madden’s, Pleasant Acres, and Breezy Point—along
with Brainerd International Raceway, another
business heavily dependent on transient
attendants, provide travel service to and from
the airport. Cragun’s often charters buses for
large groups to be transported.
“I don’t know, and I guess I never will, how
many race fans use the airport,” said Dick Roe,
general manager of BIR. “I only know that on all
the race weekends, all the rental cars they have
there are rented out.”
Cragun says his guests’ use of the airport has
grown in proportion with his resort, which has
doubled in size in the past year.
Rahn said “use of the airport is bound to
increase, as resorts get more aggressive in
scheduling convention business.”
They all agree that the rejuvenated airport
facility is fine in itself, but would like to
see certain modifications in service.
“More flights to more places would be helpful to
us,” commented Dave Gravdahl of Breezy Point
“Some people are leery of the old props,” said
Roe. “I’m anxious for the time when they will
use better jets, and flights will be faster,
more comfortable, and can accommodate more
Cragun would like to see the addition of a
flight weather service in Brainerd, whereby
temperatures recorded at the airport here are
transmitted directly to television stations.
Alexandria has such a service.
“Every time they would say ‘Brainerd’ on the
air, it’d be a good word for us,” Cragun said.
Alan Gunsbury, owner-manager of Pleasant Acres
Resort and the Quarterdeck, calls the airport
“the key to the future growth of this area.
“With an expanded airport, we will become a
center of commerce,” he said. “That obviously
will increase property values and will bring
more business up. New businesses will need
supplies shipped in. The whole thing ties
“The new airport facility signals a renewal of