Young Labor Day Weekend
By Mark Spencer
This weekend’s fly in camp and Labor Day celebrations in Young would be hard to describe as anything but incredible, so much so that it will likely become an annual APA event! Of course, every successful fly in starts with participation, and from that perspective, we had no issues. In all, 20 aircraft and roughly 20 aviators and friends took advantage of the second ingredient for a successful fly in camp, that being weather, which could not have been better. I arrived Friday at noon to find several aviators already set up and ready to camp. Cub Crafters dealer, Rick Bosshardt, in his brand spanking new Carbon Cub, Steve Lewis in his Husky, and three Bearhawks, including one of our newest members, Cathy Page of Marana, had just landed. Cathy and her gang had already been camped out just eleven miles southwest of Pleasant Valley at the Buzzard Roost Airfield. I should say that Buzzard Roost, at least for now, is great for the more highly skilled pilot flying backcountry equipped aircraft. Your APA and RAF are working on plans to bring it into primetime, but safety must always come first, and there are some potential gotchas at this airfield at present. I followed these three Bearhawks into Pleasant Valley, (24AZ) AKA Young International around noon on Friday.
Temps were in the low 80’s, winds were calm on Friday, and in mid-afternoon we were blessed with a 15 minute rain… not quite what I’d call a shower. Local, Chuck Freegard, had already dropped off his truck and Barry Dille’s portable john for our use, and thankfully Vern, another local, had mowed the edges of the airstrip and parking areas for us last Wednesday, that’s a big job! A small team of us formed a work party and set out to remove multiple juniper trees that have begun to encroach on the eastern half of the airstrip.
Pat Fagan’s trusty Pulaski proved to be even more effective than a small chainsaw, but was not a tool for the faint at heart. Thanks much to Pat, an APA member from California, for doing most of this back breaking work! After a brief rest, a flight of four headed out to Buzzard Roost, two Super Cubs, a Husky, and a Bearhawk. The ranch manager, KC as he is known, was sitting in his OHV near the approach end of the airfield, and numerous cattle were scattered on the field, but a low pass took care of that, and all of us were able to land easily. Once on the ground, we got a chance to meet with KC, a very nice fellow and friendly to aviation. After a few photos, we headed back to PV, piled in the truck, and headed to Antlers for dinner. Pat rode his bicycle to town, easy enough perhaps, but the ride back is primarily up hill. We spent a couple of hours around the campfire before retiring for the night, and during the night I spent a good bit of time listening to the elk bugling!
Saturday morning was incredibly beautiful, temps a about 55F, and severe clear. About half of us headed for the sky and back to Buzzard Roost where KC and his wife Dianna were waiting for us to give them an air tour of the ranch. It was Dianna’s first flight in a small plane, and it was my privilege to introduce her to GA, especially backcountry.
By the end of the flight she was full of questions about the process of getting one’s pilot certificate. They nearly insisted that our small group come down to the ranch for breakfast with them, but we had to get back to PV and drove the rest of the folks to town for the breakfast fundraiser at the community center. This is the second time I’ve had the chance to enjoy this breakfast, and both times it was incredible, but this one was very special since Vern’s daughter,
Kristi, was there giving chair massages for only $1/minute. I had to wait in line for a bit, but man was it worth it! My back and neck felt much better after my night of sleeping on the picnic table. Yes, yours truly forgot his tent. The rest of Saturday became somewhat breezy, not uncomfortable, but not exactly what you’d want for smooth flying, so we all stayed on the ground, but were kept busy with visits to the two museums in town.
It is a rare occasion when the Hoghland store is open for tours, but it was this weekend, so a group of us attended the 3:00PM guided tour. Man, this place is cool; basically you are walking in on a store as it was left since being closed in the 60’s, when the last owner passed away.
The shelves remain stocked with the goods that were there from that time. The new owner, also the owner of the Dead Broke Inn, is a great guide and very excited about the place. If you ever get a chance, perhaps next Labor Day, you’ll want to take this tour.
After a brief rest, we all headed to town again, debating over prime rib at Antlers, or the community corn roast and chili cook off at the community center. Schedule conflicts between the two, and the unfortunate truth that if you don’t get your prime rib ordered by 5:00PM at Antler’s means you won’t be getting any, meant we had to head to town way too early for the corn roast, so we settled on Antlers, although Pat, who had ridden his bike again, was free from the common transportation, enjoyed the cook off.
If you’ve never eaten at Antlers, you are in for a delightful meal, and equally delighted when you see how reasonable the prices are. I will say that, with the Labor Day crowd and being prime rib night, it was pretty busy, but we enjoyed our time getting to know each other, and didn’t leave until about 8:00 that night. After a little time spent around the campfire, everyone retired to their tents and for me this night, the back of Chuck’s truck, thanks for the suggestion Jennifer! I had a much better night’s sleep.
Sunday morning was beautiful, as each of us packed our aircraft and headed home. I heard from the locals that a few more aircraft may have landed on Sunday, and am hopeful they had as good a time as we did.
With the local activities, and generally good weather this time of year, we’ll likely declare Labor Day Weekend an annual event at Pleasant Valley, so if you didn’t make it this year, plan for next, and look for our spring scheduled event here in the historic and beautiful Pleasant Valley!