July 16, 2007
LP pilot views Winsted's airport as unique
By Linda Scherer
Camon Simon and his family moved to their new home in Lester Prairie in 2000.
It was his airplane hobby which attracted him to the area a place to store and fly his planes right in his backyard. But the Winsted Airport, just minutes from his home, has provided Simon with an added bonus.
Although his home on Dairy Avenue includes an airstrip called Serenity Field, Simon has found himself at the Winsted Airport almost every morning, where he is part of a coffee club made up of pilots who own hangars at the airport. The meeting time is 8 a.m.
“We have guys that even come from Minnetonka who have hangars in Winsted and they drive out before work every morning for coffee. We get the problems of the world solved,” Simon said. “Most of the time, we are done by 9:15 a.m. and then we do our own thing.”
Besides the coffee club, Simon talked about the other social activities that make the number of hangars being built at Winsted’s airport exceed other airports.
“I have not come across another airport that is as unique as Winsted’s. The bonding, the openness and the friendship that are there can’t be found at another airport.” Simon said. “It is a social club so unique, you truly know you have a friend.”
At last, a place to call home
For most of Simon’s early years, he had been on the move. His father, a career man in the Air Force for 29 years, never stayed in one place for very long, and his family moved with him.
“I got tired of moving around. I knew in my life I did not have anything stable. Sure, I knew a lot of people, but I didn’t have any bonding, lasting relationships with anybody,” Simon said.
By 1984, he had lived all over the US and West Germany. He had tried careers in welding and farming, and decided to move to Minneapolis to attend school at Dunwoody College of Technology, where he studied computer repair.
The move was a good one, because he met his wife, Darla, at a church youth group in Minneapolis, and they were married in 1986.
It wasn’t by chance that the Simon family, with their two children, Chris, 17, and Nicole, 13, built their beautiful home in Lester Prairie. Probably not even a coincidence that Camon has found a hobby in airplanes and flying them.
It was Darla’s uncle Arden Johnson, of Winsted, and his wife, Berdine, who drew the Simons to the Lester Prairie and Winsted area with family holidays and events.
Camon was especially interested in Arden’s homebuilt airplane, a Van’s RV-4. He was also interested in his backyard airstrip and airplane hangar.
Camon has many hobbies that he enjoys. He owns snowmobiles, four-wheelers, a Harley, and a boat, but he prefers planes.
“I had always been interested in flying,” Camon said. “When my dad was in the Air Force, it was totally different. We saw jets flying over. I don’t anticipate I will ever fly a jet. For me, flying is strictly recreational.”
By the time Arden was flying his second homebuilt Van’s Aircraft RV-6A, Camon had purchased his first plane. It is a 1965, four-passenger Cessna 182. It flies at about 160 miles per hour and gets about 10 miles to a gallon of fuel. He purchased it in 1998.
The Simons were living in Chaska and keeping their Cessna at the Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie.
At Christmas time in 1999, Camon said to Arden, “You don’t know how nice you have it to be able to walk out your backyard and go flying.”
Before the Simons knew it, they were in the Johnsons’ pickup truck, looking at 95 acres of land that was for sale on Dairy Avenue.
Within six weeks, Camon had gotten approval from the FAA, the county, and the city to put in an airstrip.
With their home and airplane hangar built, and family and friends close by, the Simons seemed to have settled in.
Camon has added a CGS Hawk Arrow II ultralight plane to his collection. He likes the ultralight plane because it only goes about 60 to 70 miles per hour and it is easier to see the landscape while flying.
He has been working on a homebuilt Van’s RV-7A, but the plane is currently waiting for major parts to be completed. Camon thinks it should be completed by September. It is a two-passenger and will fly 200 miles per hour.
Chris also enjoys flying and is working toward his private pilot’s license, which he should have within a few weeks. He would like to be a commercial pilot.
Camon and Chris have been on several airplane trips together. The farthest was a 10-day trip, flying 5,000 miles to Alaska in the Cessna.
Chris will be a senior at Lester Prairie High School this fall and his future plans are to go to school at the Universtiy of North Dakota, where he will have the opportunity to also study airport management or training so his education can be a little more diversified than just flying.
As far as Nicole, Camon has promised to make it possible for her to get flight training if that is what she would like.
Right now, both Nicole and Darla like to fly only because it gets them to grandma’s much quicker than riding in the car.
Because everyone in Camon’s family is always so busy running in different directions, he looks at the air time as family bonding time. He jokingly adds, “No one would jump out when you are flying at 3,000 feet.”