Seaplane Tours Make a Return to the Twin Ports

Updated: 08/17/2014 10:30 PM
Created: 08/15/2014 10:00 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

The Twin Ports are full of sights to see and many ways to see them, including bike, car, boat, and train. Now, you can add seaplane to that list.

A company new to Duluth has landed at sky harbor airport to show the area off from way up high.

John Justad, a commercial pilot, has moved to Duluth with his famous seaplane, a  DeHavilland Beaver.

"It was really designed from the ground up to be a bush plane and a bush plane is the type of aircraft that is used to fly in unimproved areas," explained Justad.

Rather than hauling cargo, these days, Justad is hauling people. And quite a few of them.

"Last winter in Florida I passed the 10,000-passenger mark and that's kind of a landmark for me," he said.

Justad has been doing air tours since 2008. For six years, he gave tours around the Leech Lake area. Justad explained there hasn't been a commercial pilot offering seaplane tours in the Twin Ports for about 12 years, so his business is taking off fast.

He's already reached 11,000 passengers. And on a perfect Duluth summer day he gets a few more.

"We got engaged [here], you can see it right over there," said Kyle Marek-Spartz with his new wife, Mary Marek-Spartz.

They are a pair of newlyweds setting off on their honeymoon and decided to take a tour of Duluth from the sky.

Eyewitness News tagged along for the ride.

From floating to flying, it's a view of the Twin Ports visitors and locals alike rarely get to see. The first sight we fly over is Canal Park.

Justad says flying over the lift bridge always gets some 'oooos' and 'ahhhhhs', especially if folks are lucky enough to catch an ore ship on her way out of the harbor.

"Another thing that really gets a lot of comments is when we are over Canal Park and then you look to the southeast and you look over Minnesota Point," said the pilot.

Justad takes us over Lake Superior, up the shore to Glensheen Mansion, and then back over the harbor.

We head over the St. Louis River, pass by Spirit Mountain and then finish up over the Superior entrance.

All in all the tour takes about 25 minutes, but up in the air time flies.

"It was the best way to see Duluth, I think," said Mary.

Justad said he does four to ten tours a day and the tours cost $50 per person. Beaver Air Tours can be found at the end of Park Point at Sky Harbor Airport.

Tours can be scheduled with Justad ahead of time, but he also takes walkups.

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