By Mark Spencer
You may have noticed our temporary closure of the Grapevine 88AZ airstrip last month. One of the benefits of the Grapevine is its asphalt surface that allows pretty much any kind of aircraft to visit its quintessential Sonoran Desert environment and backcountry charm, but with that has come a lot of upkeep.
Grapevine’s asphalt was laid down roughly 30 years ago and after 26 years of abandonment, it’s taken a lot of work from APA and RAF volunteers to restore, not to mention their generous donations.
The US Forest Service fire crews also joined us at the airstrip to help cut out and replace areas of asphalt that were seriously compromised from heavy firefighting equipment supporting the fire crews utilizing this great asset over several fires of the last three years. Six firefighters and a like number of our volunteers used a diamond saw to cut around the permitter of these areas and our APA member Tracy Hardy showed up from Tucson with his excavator to assist the other volunteers in removing crumbling asphalt. While this was going on, Mike Andresen and his crew loaded the debris into a dump trailer and then filled additional gabion baskets near the drainage erosion at the northwest edge of the strip.
A few days later, 15 tons of hot asphalt mix was delivered, and volunteers again put their shoulders to the load spreading and compacting the mix into the areas that had been cleared. Yet a few days later, Tommy Thomason returned with another crew to back seal the end cuts from the diamond saw.
Grapevine and other backcountry airstrips only exist because of the volunteers that regularly give of their time, and we are grateful for this, and this recent show of dedication and sacrifice from a relatively few pilots in keeping Grapevine up to par for the rest of us! Thank you all sincerely for this!!