You are hereJuly/August 2005

July/August 2005

Summer Adventures!

Now that summer and hot weather are here, we often turn our thoughts to vacations and having fun. This issue is full of different adventures across the country and much farther away...way down south in New Zealand. You can cool off in the waters of Lake Michigan at Harbor Springs, live like a cowboy at The Hideout at Flitner Ranch in Wyoming, taxi on a country road in Beaumont, Kansas, and fly in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Enjoy yourself with whichever adventure you choose this summer!

Harbor Springs, Michigan

Stretching along Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay, Harbor Springs is a picturesque waterfront town. You can watch marina activity at the harbor or explore the coast via kayak. Hiking and biking trails pass through forests, marshlands, and shoreline. Golf addicts will be impressed with the panoramic water views from some of the nearby courses. A stroll through residential areas reveals the area’s history, colored with expansive Victorian “cottages” that look more like mansions.

The Hideout at Flitner Ranch, Greybull, Wyoming

If you’ve ever wanted to be a cowboy, here’s your chance. Author Greg Illes calls the Hideout at Flitner Ranch, in Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin, the “Rolls Royce of Cattle Ranches.” It is a working cattle ranch that lets guests participate in activities such as cattle herding and calf branding. On more than 300,000 acres you can horseback ride, fly-fish, test your aim at trap shooting, and much more. You’ll stay in rustic log cabins, and can venture on overnight trips to remote mountain lodges. But you won’t be roughing it; with just about as many staff as there are guests, your every need will be catered to.

Northampton, Massachusetts

Friendly faces and a vibrant music scene make the college town of Northampton an attractive weekend destination. Main Street, a short walk from the airport, has intimate music halls, as well as boutiques, bookstores, and ice cream and chocolate shops. The Smith College campus has a new, polished art museum, and a botanical garden with over 6,600 types of plants. Back at the airport, you can coast over Pioneer Valley and nearby New England towns in a hot air balloon.

Beaumont, Kansas

Beaumont offers the unique experience of taxiing your aircraft down a public road, shared with cars and pedestrians. But that isn’t all that makes this small town special. A historic haunted hotel, across from the tiedowns, has two restaurants and hosts airplane fly-ins as well as motorcycle rallies. You can explore town on foot, and even get close-up looks at “zonkies,” a cross between zebras and donkeys. The wooden Frisco Water Tower and abandoned railroad tracks stand as symbols of the town’s history as a stagecoach resting spot—an oasis for weary travelers.

Flyinn Tours, New Zealand

Author Laurel Hilde Lippert takes us on a flying adventure to the Southern Hemisphere. She joins Flyinn Tours as they pass over glaciers, fly around fjords, and land on beaches. When not in the air, they travel via jet boat through a windy river past out-of-this-world location sites for The Lord of the Rings, and they fish for blue cod from a wooden boat just off an island. Back at home base, Geordie Hill Station, hosts Jo and Matt McCaughan offer hospitality with exquisite meals complete with a sampling of local wines.

Napa, California

When author Michael Coyle was a student pilot and made his first cross country flight to Napa County Airport, he discovered what experienced pilots in the area already knew: that it’s a great place for steak. Newly renovated Jonesy’s Famous Steak House, in the middle of the California wine country, is a place where you can sit by a fireplace and watch runway activity as you dine on flavorful and juicy steaks. Such care is taken in preparing the cuisine that even one of the owners, Jack Tuthill, personally selects and cuts the meats each day. In the lounge area, you can sample some of the area’s fine wines. So work up an appetite and follow Michael’s lead—head to Jonesy’s.

Upper Loon, Idaho

The challenging bush strip at Upper Loon in the Idaho backcountry requires that pilots brush up on their mountain and canyon flying skills in advance. But once you’ve done your homework, you will be rewarded with an amazingly scenic approach, through a narrow canyon past steep, towering cliffs. Pack your hiking boots and bathing suit, as an easy but lengthy trail brings you to a series of remote and inviting hot springs. Visitors can camp adjacent to the dirt strip or pamper themselves at a nearby ranch, which offers horseback riding, fishing, and hunting, and has a pool and sauna for the ultimate in relaxation.

Getting Found

Many pilots who fly in the backcountry prefer not to be in contact with others. An accident, mechanical problem, or medical emergency can quickly change that attitude. Author Michael Vivion reviews the different forms of communication—from modern electronic 406 MHz emergency transmitters to low-tech signal mirrors—and the best methods for getting found.

The Big Creek Four

We often hear about airstrips that are being closed around the country, so whenever we hear about airstrips that are saved, it’s big news for us. Aviation has scored a major victory in Idaho with some of the most difficult strips in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. These airstrips, Mile-Hi, Vines, Dewey Moore, and Simonds, known as the Big Creek Four, were in danger of being classified as “emergency use only” by the USFS, which would have effectively closed the strips. Through hard work by the Idaho Aviation Association, Montana Pilots Association, and the Recreational Aviation Foundation, they have now been changed to the more appropriate “hazardous” classification.

Reading Drainage – Water Flows Downhill

The fact that water flows downhill sounds simple, but it’s an incredibly important factor when navigating through mountains. By reading drainage patterns and following rivers and tributaries, mountain pilots can successfully fly through uneven terrain. Having an awareness of terrain elevation and slope will increase safety not just in the mountains, but wherever you fly.