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Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Hovland Ultralight Flyer Missing

Hovland resident Denny Pechacek went miss­ing Friday, August 18, while flying his ultra-light aircraft. He went on a flight from his small air­strip on Flute Reed River Road and was last seen in the air around Hammer Road, which is just northwest of Chicago Bay off of Highway 61 in Hovland. He was reported missing to the Cook County Law Enforcement Center just before 7 pm that evening.

Pechacek could not be reached on his cell phone, and the aircraft does not have a locator beacon. Cook County Search and Rescue, along with the Hovland and Colvill Fire Departments, began a search Friday evening and all day Sat­urday and Sunday involving fixed-wing aircraft, drones, and dozens of rescuers from various state and federal agencies on the ground.

As of our deadline (Tuesday, August 22) no trace of Pechacek or his aircraft has turned up and the search for him continues on the ground. The terrain is wooded and rugged and is being scoured deliberately. All are hoping to find the missing pilot.

Pechacek is a long-time resident of Cook County and is well-known in Hovland. He is an experienced ultralight pilot. According to a 2020 article in Northern Wilds magazine, Pechacek was certified a quarter century ago as a paraglid­er in his native Czech Republic. His ultralight is similar to a paraglider with the addition of an en­gine. He has more than seven years of motorized ultralight flying, much of it in the Cook County area.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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