It seems that every year vast swaths of our precious forests catch on fire. A variety of causes are always to blame: lightning, car fires, errant sparks, campfires... Arizona's extreme heat and near constant drought conditions result in perfect conditions for these fires to propagate. You may ask what this has to do with flying. Lots.

The recent fires near Globe and Superior require significant aerial resources to suppress. Water bombers, slurry tankers, helicopters, and spotters are constantly either on scene or on the way to or from the scene. Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) are put into place fairly rapidly. This typically covers the airspace directly over and near the fire, and the areas are adjusted as the fire spreads or moves. What isn't covered is the flight paths to and from the supply points. For the local Valley fires, Mesa, Grapevine Airstrip, and Payson are popular supply points. This often puts local GA traffic directly in the path of responding firefighting aircraft.

This year, with the drought as severe as it is and monsoon season upon us, the US Forest Service closed several forests to airplanes completely in Arizona. Currently, Tonto, Coconino and Prescott National Forests are closed. Many of our backcountry airstrips are in these forests and are currently off limits. I recommend you follow our Facebook page and open emails from APA for real-time updates as we receive them.

To end on a positive note, the Forest Service is heavily utilizing the Grapevine Airstrip. They are incredibly thankful to the countless volunteers and hours spent rebuilding that runway and the surrounding grounds. Our efforts allow logistics to be much closer to the fires than one of the metro airports, saving valuable time. The success of Grapevine is directly impacting our discussions with other land managers regarding opening up additional strips in the near future. Thank you to each and every volunteer who served on that project or donated!!!

Blue Skies,


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