Prepare for the 2013/2014 Backcountry Flying Season!

By Mark Spencer

The nine month backcountry flying season is about to begin again, but we’ve had a great year already! We’ve accomplished much last year, not in terms of new airstrips, but in our relationships with land managers and in solidifying aviation as a legitimate use in the Forest and BLM lands. We’ve had signs produced for Pleasant Valley (24AZ), Grapevine, and the Double Circle Ranch, and have permission to install these now. We’ve made progress in a plan for needed maintenance on the log structures at the Double Circle Ranch, and are invited for a second year now by the Apache Sitgreave’s National Forest to participate in a National Public Lands Day event at the Double Circle ranch airstrip! We hope to replace broken windows, fascia, and possibly the front door on the lodge building for this year’s event. We’ll need all the help we can get for this.

We decided last year that it would be important to make our positive mark at these airstrips. Since all but Pleasant Valley are uncharted, signage and improvements seem to be the best way to establish our use and legitimacy. The signage, fire rings, picnic tables, and a resurfacing of the Grapevine airstrip are all part of this. If you can help us financially with the Grapevine resurfacing, donations can be made to the Arizona Pilot’s Association at This is the only airstrip in Arizona located 1400 feet from the largest body of water in central Arizona, and the bass fishing is great! It’s a 3400’ asphalt strip and area open exclusively to aviators every third weekend of the month! Crack sealing and resurfacing is anticipated to be in the $15,000 range. You can also download the pilot briefing on our website.

On a sad note and with a bit of heartache, we found that one of the picnic tables we had installed at Pleasant Valley last year had been stolen, and the second was utterly destroyed by what appeared to be a four wheeled vehicle running over it. We’re looking at options for replacing these before our fall flying season starts. This is only a minor set back at this site that is located just outside the historic community of Young, Arizona.

Airstrips on the Kaibab are still in flux as FS personnel continue to change in the area, but we intend to begin a concerted effort and were recently invited to visit with the acting District Ranger at the Red Butte airstrip!

Of course we’ll have plenty of great fly in camps in the next season, so keep your eye on the calendar!


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