National RAF Meeting MarkSpencer

By Mark Spencer

Over 100 volunteers, including 20 state liaisons, met in Bentonville, Arkansas, from May 12th through the 14th for the RAF Razorback Rendezvous, as it was called. Thanks to generous support by the Walton Family Foundation, the group enjoyed Friday dinner at the soon-to-be open to the public Sugar Creek airstrip, just outside of Bentonville. Steuart Walton, an avid aviator and backcountry supporter, along with Chad Cox, joined the group as well, discussing plans to develop an Idaho-like environment for backcountry aviation in the Ozark Mountains area. This is very exciting since the area was absolutely breathtaking.

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Also present at the conference were IMBA Vice President of Government Relations, Bruce Alt; along with IMBA President, Mike Abel; AOPA President, Mark Baker; GAMA VP of Government Affairs, Paul Feldman; USFS, Washington Dispersed Office Recreation, Crystal Merica; and USFS, Fire & Aviation Pilot and Smoke Jumper, Tim DeHass. Several of these folks shared with us insight from their perspective, giving everyone a more rounded picture of the pressures, challenges, and successes different groups have experienced with public and private lands and recreation.

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Several Panel discussions and presentations were also held on subjects including Recreational Use Statute progress and strategies, what we’ve learned so far, and how to break the ice with local land managers.

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Saturday dinner was held in Steuart’s hangar, and awards were presented to several RAF folks for their efforts in promoting recreational aviation across the country.

Being the diehard aviator, Tommy and his wife Linda, flew their 182 for the conference, where Tommy made good on a promise that the RAF made to get several guests up in the air.

The APA & RAF’s Dave Dunteman, along with the RAF’s Patrick Romano, held two days of Back to Basics training at the Bentonville Airport for local pilots and CFI’s.

See if you can find your APA President, Tommy Thomason, Webmaster & Treasurer, Stefanie Spencer, and yours truly in the photo below! Bonus points for finding RAF President John McKenna, he’s really incognito. ;-)

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JWe’re off to a warm, dry spring, and the backcountry season is off to a great start! Last month’s 3rd Saturday weekend at Grapevine brought in over 30 aircraft and 60+ aviators, friends, and family. Hosts Rick Bosshardt, your Arizona CubCrafter’s dealer, and our faithful Mike An-dresen, along with help from APA President Tommy Thomason, man-aged to keep things safe and order-ly. Just an FYI, please review the Aviator’s Code of Conduct, and check out our complete safety briefs and videos each time you visit the backcountry. Your profes-sional knowledge and behavior in the backcountry makes ours and the RAF’s work of preserving back-country airstrips possible.
As I write this article, APA mem-bers are preparing to transport two USFS donated shades from the Roosevelt Lake area to the Pleas-ant Valley Airstrip (24AZ) outside of Young, Arizona. It’s been two years since this same team in-stalled the shades at Grapevine for us. Please say thanks to Carl Guilliams and Paul Pitkin at one of our events. You donations to the backcountry fund have paid for the concrete work and placement up at the airstrip! Join us there on the weekend of April 1st - 3rd for our annual spring visit and camp at Young. Watch our facebook page and calendar for any changes or rescheduling due to weather!
We’ll be out at the old Double Circle Ranch the end of April, beginning on Friday the 29th. This will be the first trip that you’ll be able to actually plan to the Double Circle using its new identifier, Z66. The FAA has shared with us that the Double Circle will hit the sectionals in the April release of charts. This is the first newly charted airstrip in USFS region 3 in the last 40 or 50 years! Let’s take care of this site by being safe, protecting its historical content, and volunteering for future partnering with the USFS at the site!
Keep an eye on our calendar for backcountry train-ing events as we are providing more opportunities for the Arizona community for such training. The next Back to Basics evening seminar will be at 6pm on Tuesday, March 15th, at Deer Valley.
We’re just beginning the planning of the fog coat process for the Grapevine airstrip this summer. We’ll need volunteers once again, and have no doubt that many of you will want to participate in thisanuary, 2016
Friday, January 15, 2016 - Sunday, January 17, 2016
Grapevine Monthly Fly-In Weekend
Saturday, January 23, 2016
Back to Basics at Ak-Chin (A39) with Dave Dunteman
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Mountain Canyon Flying with Lori MacNichol (P48)
February, 2016
Friday, February 19, 2016 - Sunday, February 21, 2016
Grapevine Monthly Fly-In Weekend
March, 2016
Friday, March 04, 2016 – Saturday March 5, 2016
Cactus Fly In Casa Grande (CGZ)
Friday, March 18, 2016 - Sunday, March 20, 2016
Grapevine Monthly Fly-In Weekend
April, 2016
Friday, April 1, 2016 - Sunday, April 3, 2016
Pleasant Valley, Young AZ (24AZ)
Bad Weather BACKUP DATE:
Friday, April 8, 2016 - Sunday, April 10, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016 - Sunday, April 17, 2016
Grapevine Monthly Fly-In Weekend
Friday, April 29, 2016 - Sunday, May 1, 2016
Double Circle Ranch (Z66)
Bad Weather BACKUP DATE:
Friday, May 6, 2016 - Sunday, May 8, 2016
May, 2016
Saturday May 7, 2016
ASAG Meeting
Friday, May 20, 2016 - Sunday, May 22, 2016
Grapevine Monthly Fly-In Weekend

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