Dennis Kraklau's hobby puts him on ice-covered lakes.
No, the Brainerd resident isn't one of our many thousands of ice fishermen. Instead, Kraklau visits ice fishermen via his two-tone sky blue and fire-engine red 1946 Cessna 140 single-engine airplane.
Kraklau wearing a well-worn suede Aircraft Owners Pilot Association cap, black Carhart-like bib overhauls and a black down jacket , stood near his plane on Lower South Long Lake one day this month and said he does this "just for kicks." Upper and Lower South Long lakes were the third lakes he had visited this day. The others were Platte and Sullivan.
Dennis Kraklau posed by his airplane after visiting anglers on Lower South Long Lake. (Dispatch Photos by Clint Wood)
"I try to fly at least twice a week," said Kraklau, who has never flown in a commercial airliner.
Kraklau has flown airplanes for seven years after a ride with a cousin sparked his interest.
Kraklau, shown flying over Upper South Long Lake and Lower South Long Lake, has been flying for the past seven years and enjoys visiting anglers on ice.
Kraklau said flying over Lake Mille Lacs in the winter provides an interesting viewpoint. He said from a cruising altitude of 1,000 feet he can see the "streets" running between the hundreds of fishhouses.
Ice fishermen have given Kraklau interesting reactions during his visits. Recently on Lower South Long Lake Bay an angler told Kraklau he was going to break through the ice. Kraklau told the angler, who had driven to his fishhouse on an all-terrain vehicle, that if his plane went under so would have his ATV, Kraklau has pushed the envelope, landing on three inches of ice one time.
Kraklau can view the patterns all-terrain vehicles and angler's footprints make near fish houses from the air.
A 2002 Kawasaki Prairie 650 V-Twin has a dry weight of 606 pounds.
"(My plane) only weighs 970 pounds," he said.
Kraklau doesn't need a long runway to take off from an ice-covered lake. He said he has landed his 600-pound Cessna single-engine airplane on 3 inches of ice.
A Cessna 140 weighs in at 950 to 1,000 pounds empty.
Another angler attempted to give Kraklau his license (he thought he was a conservation officer).
Kraklau, who is an avid fisherman during the summer, does plan to ice fish this winter. But on a lake accessible only by ATVs.
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