Backcountry Fall/Winter 2017MarkSpencer


By Mark Spencer


As the 2017 summer gives way to cooler fall and winter weather, we have a lot to look forward to in the Arizona backcountry. At Grapevine, now a formally fully opened airstrip, 88AZ, we will resume hosting our monthly weekend fly in camp outs and our donation based lunch every third Saturday! These are incredible events as nearly anyone, and any type of aircraft, can land on Grapevine’s 3800’ x 40’ wide asphalt airstrip. Weekends will be September 15th -17th, October 20th-22nd,  November 17th-19th, and we’ll announce December soon. We are thankful for the folks that have volunteered to help us in putting on the Saturday lunches for these weekends. If you’d like to be added to volunteer the list for spring, please let us know! 

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By the time this newsletter publishes, we’ll have completed our second annual Labor Day weekend fly in at Young, Pleasant Valley (24AZ), but put this on your calendar for next Labor Day weekend as the town of Young really comes alive on this holiday weekend!

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The good folks at the Springerville Airport have decided that a dirt airstrip is perfect for the Springerville airport. Summer will be almost over in the deserts, but September will be nice and cool in Springerville at 7000’ elevation.  Again, Springerville has added a parallel dirt strip (for those that are fat tire equipped) on the east side of 03/21, and has an area where we can camp out away from the active runways. The White Mountains are very scenic, and Springerville has fuel and is a great base for exploring Eastern Arizona and Western New Mexico. Come join us on our inaugural event September 22-24. If you would prefer to hotel it there are several hotel within a few miles and the airport has a courtesy car available for use. Questions or more info: Contact Nelson (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Sean (Airport Manager) 928–333-5746. 

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Come October 13th-15th  we’ll be headed up to the pines again to the incredible Payson Airport, KPAN camping facilities. Warm showers, picnic tables, a Ramada and grills make this one of the finest facilities in Arizona’s backcountry inventory. The onsite restaurant is among the best, and the loaner car is available for those wishing to stay in a nearby hotel. We’ll have our annual Dutch oven and chili cook off on Saturday the 14th!

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Take a step back in time and into the old west by joining us at the old Double Circle Ranch the weekend of September 29th-31st. One of Arizona’s largest and earliest ranch empires, the Double Circle is ripe for hiking and exploring. APA’s work on saving the lodge has helped make this incredible log structure a comfortable place to hang out with fellow aviators. Please bring your favorite side dish for the potluck BBQ on Saturday. Oh, and for the ladies, the lodge bathroom will be working for the weekend. 

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On November 10th-12th we’ll be back in Young, at the Pleasant Valley, 24AZ airstrip.  If you have a big tire plane, we’re working on a special fly over to our newest backcountry airstrip, Buzzard’s Roost, that Saturday morning where the local Rancher has offered to provide a donation based ranch style breakfast for us!   Buzzard’s Roost is basically an open hill top suited only for the skilled backcountry pilot with appropriate aircraft. Landing is up hill from either the north or south side of the hill, depending on winds, and density altitude, wildlife, rocks, and other debris are all possible. That being said, you can see from the photo below that it is a beautiful place! This view is from the southeast looking northwest towards Payson. The old wind sock pole has been tied to this tree for about 50 years and your APA donated the new wind sock to the USFS who installed it for us last year.

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Looking forward to seeing you all in the AZ backcountry soon!

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As always,  for the most up to date information on backcountry events, unexpected changes and such, visit the APA Facebook site. You do not need to be a Facebook user to benefit from this site. Also always read and understand our pilot briefs before visiting these airstrips. Lastly, you are responsible as pilot in command, under 91.3(a) for yours and the safety of your occupants. 

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APA’s last organized event for the spring went off without a hitch on the weekend of May 19th through 21st. The only challenge was keeping up with parking of the 30 aircraft! According to Kit ad Brad, our hosts for this weekend, there were a total 64 attendees throughout the weekend. Everyone pitched in with food dishes for the pot luck, and the weather could not have been better. There were many new faces this weekend and we expect several new members for the APA team. A good number of attendees made the hike down to the lake’s shore with only one rattlesnake sighting. We’ve heard that Kit and Brad’s supplied meals were to die for!


We’ll be putting off our organized events at Grapevine until it cools down again in September or October, so watch our calendar for the next date!


Again, Grapevine is now open full time to any non commercial non training flights, but expect fire restrictions to be in place until the monsoon is in full swing, and there will be no port-a-john until our next group event in the fall. If you do visit during the summer, please contact us to let us know at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let us know how you enjoyed it.


Please also think about hosting an event in the fall as we are already looking for volunteers!

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