FLYING Magazine

Montana’s Flathead Valley is a widely acclaimed summer and winter destination, known for its pristine clear water lakes, ski resorts, and—most notably—Glacier National Park. 

The Silo House fly-in rental in Kalispell is conveniently situated near the area’s attractions but benefits from its tranquil location at Sky Ranch Airport (MT95). The increasingly popular accommodation is owned by Tom Bass and Susan Jasmann, longtime residents of the area who individually share a passion for aviation and horses.

“We opened the Silo House four years ago,” Bass said. “Two months later, COVID hit and every reservation was canceled. We thought we were going to go broke but actually did quite well during the pandemic because of what you can do here.

An aerial view of Sky Ranch Airport (MT95), which sports a 5,000-foot-by-220-foot turf runway. [Courtesy: Silo House/Tom Bass]

“Montana’s number one economic source is recreation, and people flock here because of all the things to do. People that stay at the Silo House for a week spend two or three days at Glacier [National] Park and the rest with all the activities Flathead Valley has to offer. There are places to ride horses, fly fish, hike, float the rivers, zip lines, rent RVs or boats, and many other things. Flathead Lake, which is only 2 miles from the Silo House, is 50 miles long and is about 6 miles wide on average.”

The fly-in rental features a unique architectural style. It is a memorable starting point for a pilot’s adventures in northwest Montana.

“One of the four lots we own was the original farmhouse for the section of land that MT95 is built on,” Bass said. “The farmhouse was 100 years old, and we took it down to the studs and doubled its size. The farmer’s original grain bins on the lot needed to be repurposed and the Silo House was born. All of the exterior is rock, barnwood, and silos. The interior is industrial modern with dramatic steel beams, lots of glass, stunning views, and custom wood furniture. With the patio, an acre of grass, and stunning views: This is the place you want to come home to at the end of the day. The initial goal of the house from day one was to be designed from the ground up as a vacation rental.”

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The project’s website provides an overview of its amenities.

There are equestrian facilities on-site at the Silo House. [Courtesy: Silo House/Tom Bass]

“The Silo House has an open floor plan with plenty of room to entertain, with windows overlooking a wetlands pond and the dramatic Rocky Mountains,” he said. “There are two large bedrooms with comfy king-size beds, a round loft with three twins (for kids or adults), two bathrooms, and private study with a twin which is in the silo over the master bedroom. A round fully stocked kitchen is a phenomenal place to cook, and there is a stunning bar area. The beautiful rustic wood kitchen table comfortably seats 10.

“You can enjoy your cup of coffee in front of the fireplace or out on the beautifully appointed patio, which has an outdoor bar area and fire pit for both summer and winter nights. Also, bring your binoculars for sightings of all sorts of animal life, bird watching, and horses in the pasture next door.”

Bass contends that the unique project has continued to be successful, post-pandemic, for several reasons. More than anything, having a rental home with direct runway access is a rarity in northwest Montana. Pilots have taken notice of the ease of taxiing to their accommodation.

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As a point of reference, Kalispell City Airport (S27) is 6 nm northwest, and Glacier Park International (KGPI) is 12 nm to the north of Sky Ranch Airport. When you land at the Silo House, your hosts will take you to one of several car rental locations and help with your luggage.

Bass, a Cessna 180 owner, offered an overview of some of the notable airstrips in the area. He is happy to help curate a list of “must-sees” for pilots visiting, both on land and the water. He has been to Alaska 15 times on floats and frequented many of the Idaho backcountry strips. If you need help in planning your dream flying adventure, he will be there to help you.

“I am familiar with all of the local runways around here, including backcountry runways,” he said. “There are four backcountry runways less than 40 miles away that all have great camping locations. Three of them—Schafer, Meadow Creek, and Spotted Bear—are a few hundred feet away from spectacular fly fishing spots. Flights over the mountains in this area will give you breathtaking views.

Spotted Bear (8U4) – 27 miles; 3,672 feet msl; 3,800-foot runway

Meadow Creek (0S1) – 35 miles; 3,993 feet msl; 2,800-foot runway

Schafer (8U2) – 38 miles; 4,854 feet msl; 3,200-foot runway

Ryan Field (2MT1) – 23 miles; 3,660 feet msl; 2,500-foot runway

Inside the Silo House, a purpose-built vacation rental a short taxi away from the private airport’s runway. [Courtesy: Silo House/Tom Bass]

“These backcountry strips are all in the mountains and should only be attempted by pilots with mountain flying experience. For those that are not seasoned backcountry pilots, there are instructors around here that seriously know what they are doing. They know what they’re doing because daily they help a lot of people who are flown into these strips as a place to start their hikes.”

A Diamond DA-62 sits on the grass at Sky Ranch Airport (MT95) in Kalispell, Montana. [Courtesy: Silo House/Tom Bass]

The well-manicured grass runway at Sky Ranch Airport is much less intimidating to the visiting pilot, sitting at an estimated 2,905 feet msl. According to Bass, 100LL fuel is typically available for guests so that they don’t have to fly to another airport to fill up. 

“MT95 is the biggest grass strip in Montana,” he said. “It’s 5,000 feet long and 220 feet wide, but we have designated a 50-foot taxiway on each side. There are no obstacles, so it is easy to get in and out of.”

The post Seeking to Silo in Montana appeared first on FLYING Magazine.

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