RHINELANDER - If Tom Mckenzie had to pick his favorite place in the world, it just might be the sky.
"When I was younger, my grandpa took me up in a Cessna just like this and from then on, even though I was a young age, I just felt that I could do it for the rest of my life," said Mckenzie.
The "rest of his life" begins this fall.
He'll be an aviation student at the University of North Dakota.
But first, he wanted to get his pilot's license.
"He called up out of the blue; he's had an interest in this," said flight instructor Jeff Melau.
Mckenzie had his second lesson at Rhinelander Flying Service.
But before he hit the clouds, there's groundwork to do.
"Usually we start out with a little paperwork, we check the weather, make sure it looks fine to fly and then we go over to the pre-flight extension," said Mckenzie.
Mckenzie soared through the pre-flight check list, and finally, he was in the place he's always wanted to be.
"It's amazing. I'm just so happy when I'm up there and it's just such a great feeling. It's so hard to describe because it's just something that I've always wanted, I love," said Mckenzie.
This flight includes a little help from instructor Jeff.
"This guy is really into flying. I mean obviously he's going to go to school for it but he's just enthused. I think if he had his choice, we'd go right back up in the air right now," said Melau.
Over 14 years, Jeff has taught more than 100 students to fly.
"And I know when I sit in the airplane for a couple of hours and I don't do anything other than TALK, I know that they're at a proficient level and I know that I can solo them, in the airplane and feel confident that they're gonna be okay," said Melau.
Mckenzie still has a ways to go before he's flying solo.
But until then- he's content with just being in his favorite place.
"It's endless. And you can basically go wherever you want and do whatever you want. Just the possibilities," said Mckenzie.
And if you take a glance at the sky—you just might see him.
RHINELANDER - The City of Rhinelander and Oneida County will consider borrowing $15 million to help develop a manufacturer in Rhinelander, according to an Oneida County Economic Development Corporation release Tuesday.
The money would help Rhinelander Coated Products start work inside the former Printpack building on Kemp Street.
BOULDER JUNCTION - Pilots find very little room for error when they make a landing. Wings, flaps, and landing gear all need to work properly. Then there's the runway itself, which needs to be flat and smooth.
So, when pilots found ruts and divots torn into the grass runway at Boulder Junction's airport, folks were more than upset, they were worried about safe landings. Airfield president Jeff Long thinks someone used a pickup truck to do the damage. It happened right before the airfield's busiest weekend of the year, the Musky Day fly-in.
"To see somebody disregard that, disrespect that, and then again the safety, where somebody could get hurt that we're inviting up here for summer fun, doesn't make you feel very good," Long said.
EAGLE RIVER - Cities across the Northwoods drop tens of thousands of dollars every winter on crack sealing roads. The Eagle River Airport is no different. The airport spent about $25,000 in 2016 patching up its main runway.
Arguably, that runway is even older than most roads people drive on. The runway was last redone in 1971. On a busy day, the 5,000-foot runway hosts upwards of 80 takeoffs and landings. Airport manager Rob Hom showed Newswatch 12 a number of places where the pavement is buckling and cracked. That can lead to dangerous landings for small planes.
"Relative to a car or a truck [a prop-powered airplane is] pretty light relatively speaking, so having a smooth runway is imperative," Hom said.
KNOWLTON - When you think of Wisconsin, you probably think of the Packers, dairy, and beer. One of the quintessential things that make this state great is its cheese, and you'll find no shortage of that in north central Wisconsin. The largest family-owned cheese factory is right in our own backyard, and it continues to push its limits in the industry
For Bill Mullins, the cheese business is all in the family.
"My other two brothers are in the business," said Bill, Co-Owner of Mullins Cheese. "My brother has four boys in the business full-time. My mom did accounting for us until she was 88."
THREE LAKES - Pollinators play an essential role in the growth of plants, and it's not just bees that help pollinate.
Butterflies, bats, and even mosquitoes are pollinators, but those populations have been in decline in recent years.
"Across the U.S., pollinators have been seeing big declines," said Oneida County Conservationist Michele Sadauskas. "We've been hearing more and more about our honeybee pollinations. The monarch populations have had dramatic decreases. So we're seeing it across the board."
CRANDON - For some Northwoods families, it can be hard to find the money to pay for their kids' school supplies every year, but a back-to-school program in Forest County is giving children the supplies they need to succeed.
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