You are hereMay/June 2012
As spring turns to summer, we find ourselves thinking about places to fly. This issue helps you satiate your flying wanderlust with varied destinations across the country, from enjoying a pastoral countryside to touring a World War II aircraft carrier or even escaping to a grass airstrip in the mountains.
Corpus Christi, Texas
Corpus Christi, the sparkling city on the bay, offers more summer fun than you can cram into a weekend. For starters, says author Patricia Strutz, any pilot’s visit to Corpus Christie should include a tour of the USS Lexington. The legendary “Blue Ghost” aircraft carrier was involved in nearly every important World War II Pacific battle, and has set more records than any other carrier. Walk around the deck for close-up views of vintage fighter jets, bombers, and ground-attack aircraft, and then check out the engine room, crew’s galley, and mess deck, where you can even have lunch. The hangar deck houses yet more aircraft as well as an array of flight simulators and a 3-D movie. If it’s too hot outside, you can explore air-conditioned indoor venues like the aquarium and art museum. Outdoors, you can stroll along the seawall, or go bird watching in nearby marshes, at the beach, or in a wildlife refuge. Fishing, beachcombing, and swimming offer more ways to enjoy the beautiful Corpus Christi Bay. The city offers a wide variety of seafood, steakhouse, and oyster bar options. Lodging can include anything from camping on the bay to commanding views of the bay from a high-rise luxury hotel room. For a little variety in your trip, hop back into your plane and land at nearby Mustang Island. Pilots will love the special aviation themed B&B owned by pilots. The adventurous traveler can even try skydiving here, landing on the wide beach.
Florence, on Oregon’s central coast, is known as the City of Rhododendrons. Each spring and summer, the tiny town explodes with a profusion of the red and pink blossoms. They line the sidewalks and spill out of hanging baskets and window boxes in front of riverside restaurants and shops. Florence is also known as the gateway to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Sand dunes up to 300 feet tall stretch southward for 47 miles and provide an array of activities for thrill-seekers. Take a wild dune buggy ride, explore via horseback, or just challenge yourself with a brisk climb to the top of the dunes and watch the wind erase your footprints. Just out of town, you can see one of the most photographed lighthouses on the coast, Heceta Head, and even spend the night above the crashing waves in the lightkeeper’s room. In the morning, wake to a seven-course gourmet breakfast prepared with local ingredients, many from the inn’s own gardens. You can also visit the world’s largest sea cave, home to huge congregations of sea lions. As author Erin Willison explains, the biological environment around Florence is extraordinarily rich, because the town is situated where the Suislaw River runs into the Pacific Ocean, creating habitat for sea birds, salmon, and fresh water creatures. The river meanders around downtown, and numerous restaurants and inns take advantage of the peaceful river views. Shops and restaurants in the historic downtown feature facades that evoke both Cape Cod and the Old West. Menus run from traditional hometown pubs to the latest innovative Northwest-grown cuisine. The airport is conveniently situated adjacent to the downtown area. This June, you can visit during the annual Wings & Wheels Fly-in and Car Show and admire an array of specialized cars and aircraft, including the one-and-only original Van’s RV-1, making a tour of the U.S. on its way to permanent installation at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisc.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County is best known for its large Amish community. Join author Kimberly Poremski as she introduces you to these friendly “Pennsylvania Dutch” who shun most modern “conveniences” and faithfully continue to live their traditional lifestyle. You can visit some of their homes and farms, learn about their customs, and dispel some of the myths that have grown around the Amish towns with their unusual names, like Bird-in-Hand, Intercourse, Blue Ball, and Paradise. Enjoy an Amish feast at the Plain & Fancy Farm Restaurant, topped off with “shoo-fly” pie, and then retire to your suite at the Amish View Inn. Lancaster also has a thriving arts scene, with galleries, street fairs, and Broadway-caliber theater productions. You can enjoy outlet or antique shopping, but don’t miss the opportunity to pick up homemade jams, jellies, relishes, and other canned specialties. For fun, you can roll around downtown on a Segway personal transporter. Choose from a variety of Segway tours designed for those interested in history, architecture, and even ghost stories. For more fun, take in a minor league baseball game, visit a special amusement park, or try a ride in a horse-drawn Amish buggy.
Garden Valley, Idaho
Many Idaho backcountry airstrips intimidate most pilots since many of them are relatively short and possibly rough, in tight canyons, and surrounded by obstructions. Johnson Creek is not one of these strips, so it has become an increasingly popular airplane camping spot in recent years, often to the point of becoming crowded in the summer. But you can visit another beautiful Idaho grass strip, even if you fly a Bonanza or Cirrus or don’t have hardcore mountain flying skills. This strip is Garden Valley, a gorgeous, perfectly manicured grass airstrip that is 125 feet wide and 3,850 feet long—even longer than Johnson Creek. Located in a wide valley, the approaches are fairly straightforward and can be made from either direction, with go-arounds available if necessary. It offers camping and a hot spring beside a whitewater river, forest hiking, a tiny town with restaurant, and a brand new restroom/shower facility. What’s more, you can even go whitewater rafting, see an outdoor play, or, via the free courtesy car, stay in a B&B if you don’t want to camp. Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy reveals that in winter, you may see hundreds of elk, whereas in summer, you can drop in during a fly-in and meet other backcountry pilots. On most days however, the airstrip will only see one or two aircraft, so you can enjoy a solitary hike in the woods or soak in the hot spring and watch the Payette’s South Fork pass endlessly by. Should you need your adrenaline stoked, a trip down the Payette’s Class IV+ continuous rapids is guaranteed to provide all you need! With the new shower facility and its beautiful runway, Garden Valley joins a select group of Idaho’s premiere airplane camping airstrips.
Backcountry Etiquette & Safety—Part I
As you learned when you earned your pilot license, aviation has its own customs, procedures, and practices. Backcountry flying, like any other type of specialized flying, comes with its own challenges and rewards. The skilled backcountry aviator must learn how to fly in canyons and mountains, make helpful position reports, and land and take off from all types of airstrip environments. Being prepared is essential. In this first article of a two-part series, Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy presents safety tips from an array of experienced backcountry pilots, instructors, and emergency preparedness experts. Backcountry aviation requires attention to detail, even when operating on the ground. Some of that attention to detail involves courtesy to other wilderness users, both pilots and non-pilots. Even your choice of which airstrip to land at should be carefully considered. Some airstrips are more challenging than others. And some airstrips are not appropriate for group flights, since they result in multiple landings and takeoffs. Recently, some of Idaho’s most sensitive backcountry airstrips have been subjected to many group flights, resulting in pressure on government officials to consider closing them to all pilots. If you fly in the backcountry, don’t miss both of these articles. They’ll help keep you safe, give you some etiquette tips you may not have thought of, and, perhaps most importantly, help you keep all our recreational airstrips open for all pilots by preventing misuse of sensitive wilderness runways.