by Colin M. Graham
NM68 Rael Ranch Horse Pasture is in a
beautiful area of southwestern New Mexico, having visited
there in October 2002. The elevation is right at 7,000 feet
and is currently not maintained and suitable for emergencies
only. Pedro Rael owns the airstrip. He is an attorney in Los
Lunas, about 3.5 hours away. He built the airstrip about 6
years ago for his own personal use, owning a ranch there.
Pedro intends on fixing the airstrip. To his knowledge no
one has landed there in the past two years.
The airstrip runs uphill to the southwest,
extending for 2,500 feet. The surface is dirt and currently
very rough because of the out-of-control clump grass. The
surrounding terrain is beautiful, high desert. To the west
are many pine trees.
Mr. Rael mentions that there are several
other unpublished airstrips in the area. He did not make any
specific remarks about visitors, but you could always ask
him at 505-865-6811.
Located just north of Interstate 70 and
about 50 miles north of Moab, Utah, lies Rogers Roost in
poor condition. Thompson Springs is not a town, on a truck
stop. The runway surface is gravel in very poor shape. I
made a visual inspection in December 2004 and had trouble
determining the runway ends and edges. The length is around
3,000 feet. I do not recommend flying here in its current
condition. The airport has not been used for many years.
The Root Ranch Airstrip lies just west of
the Cold Meadows Ranger Station airstrip. Check out Galen
Hanselman's FLY IDAHO!
This strip is about 1,500 feet lower
elevation than Cold Meadows because it sits in the bottom of
a small canyon. Bill Guth is the general manager of the
airstrip and request all pilots wishing to fly in to this
strip to call ahead at 208-756-6295. There is a $25 landing
fee for any pilot flying in who isn't using the ranch
facilities. Bill told us the airstrip is nice and flat and
the approaches can be flown from either direction. He said
take off is best downstream because the canyon ends
upstream. The single dirt/turf runway extends 2,100 feet and
is about 50 feet wide.
The Root Ranch is a fly-in resort tucked
deep into central Idaho and currently has about 150
residents. Mr. Guth said, "Our airstrip is in a grassy
meadow at the bottom of the canyon." The airport is open
from early June to November.
Remarks: Located at the bottom of a canyon,
either way in or out but preferred departure is downstream.
No grade in the meadows. Surrounded by mountains but not
deep. Closed in the winter from December through May.
2CO9 The Silver Heels Airstrip sits about 10
miles southeast of the Heckendorf Ranch. It was at one time
a glider port, but Heckendorf says the county shut the
operation down about three years ago because the tow pilots
were bothering the nearby cattle. It is still listed on
charts and is at an extreme elevation of 9,600 feet with two
gravel-surface runways of 4,500 feet. Denver and South Park
Soaring is listed as the owner, but when I called an older
lady told me, "There is no such thing anymore."
e-mail from Steward Kissel on 01-17-2005 reports, "Update
with image from last summer. Nothing grows more than
1/2-inch tall in these parts, so the strip is very landable;
although a little hard to see from the air. A road still
permits access as well."
45S I found this airstrip one evening while
checking the Web for a different strip more than 1,000 miles
away. It is located off Route 31 just west of Silver Lake,
Oregon. The runway is a dirt surface and strethces for about
3,000 feet and is 50 feet wide.
It is not regularly used and does not see
much maintenance, but it is in useable condition according
to the Forest Service. It is primarily used by the USFS
during the fire season and sees a lot of helicopter traffic.
The local terrain is "fairly flat" as described by the
Forest Service. It is mainly of a sagebrush nature. The
runway is soft when wet.
For current conditions call 541-576-7520.
1ID9 This private airstrip,
located somewhere off I-15, is perhaps one of America's
toughest. It is owned by Tom Simko who successfully
developed a MO-GAS airplane.
The strip is on the side of a mountain
adjacent to Interstate 15. The runway is a rough mixture of
dirt, a mere 400 feet in length at an elevation of 6,150
feet. All approaches are made uphill to the east because of
the 14-percent upslope. If there aren't enough obstacles to
suit you the runway has a dogleg in the middle. This is a
one-way strip with no chance of a go-around. The terrain to
the east climbs steeply to 9,000 feet. A climb rate of about
300 fpm is needed just to touch down. It is not recommended
that you try using this airstrip. A pilot during an
emergency would be better off to land in the valley by the
Take off is interesting as well. You simple
point the aircraft down hill and the minute it breaks ground
you reduce power to cruise because of the steady descent
towards the valley. The valley floor is around 4,500 feet.
Fly by and throw Tom a wave. He's a pretty cool guy. Just
don't bother to land on the runway.
82NM Mike Skeen sure is a nice gentleman. We
talked one fall evening in October about his airstrips. Only
one is listed on the ABQ Sectional chart but he has two very
well maintained airstrips at the ranch. He also had some
good information about other nearby airstrips.
The first strip is the "headquarters
airstrip" that is shown on the chart. It is a 3,800 feet
grass and dirt strip, well graded and fairly smooth. Mike
says the airstrip is located in a canyon but still friendly
to get in and out. He recommends landing to the south at the
main airstrip. Both airstrips have 24-inch windsocks and the
"outer strip" is located about two miles NW of the
"headquarters strip." The outer strip consists of an
east/west runway up on a flat plateau. Mike said it can be
easier getting into than the lower strip that may have some
tricky wind patterns.
The surrounding terrain is dry, rocky,
cactus-covered hills. Each strip is located on an active
ranch, so be advised that cattle and sheep can and often
will be on the runways. Mike keeps a 1952 Piper Super Cub in
a hangar based at his lower strip.
Both airstrips are open to anyone wanting to
visit as long are you call Mike in advance at 505-653-4084.
Other airstrips include the Diamond A that
is north of Skeen and the Flying H located to the south of
Skeen. Mike said the Diamond A is a pretty nice 6,000-foot
paved runway that has changed ownership a number of times in
the past. The runway is oriented north/south but lies deep
in a canyon that has very tricky wind ... not for the novice
pilot. The northern end opens into the Hondo Valley. Mike
said the Flying H is mainly used by powered parachutes.
CD02 The name Skyote comes
from a one-place kit aircraft that Mr. Bartoe designs and
builds. The airstrip is very dangerous and just like Barker
Creek, strictly private. Mr. Bartoe says, "If you plan to
land here, you'd better bring your bill of sale, 'cause
you'll never get out alive." I didn't figure out if that was
a threat or the nature of the airstrip. The strip is 1,600
feet in length at an elevation of 8,200 feet that slopes
downhill to the south. Mr. Bartoe reports there is about a
75-foot difference in elevation between the runway ends.
Land to the north, depart to the south. It is in a region of
mountainous terrain and tall trees surround the airstrip.
This is another "fly by and wave" strip.
Don't bother landing here.
(pronounced SA - WATCH has a 7,900-foot elevation runway
that is compensated for in its length of 7,750 feet. The
airstrip is publicly owned and maintained by the Colorado
Division of Aeronautics. The airport condition is described
as "very good." The surround terrain is rolling and sage
covered. Use caution for deer and antelope that are free to
meander onto the runway. The airport is used very little,
probably fewer than 30 aircraft each year land and take off.
There is a windsock and new AWOS system, but no facilities.
It is a short ride into the town of
Saguache, less than two miles. Most of the airstrip's usage
comes from the Division of Wildlife and the USFS / BLM.
State highway 141 runs along the northern edge of the
For more information call Peggy, airport
manager, at 719-655-2890.
ID90 This rather flat
airstrip is closed. It lies high on a bluff over the Snake
River south of the Salmon River confluence. It is owned by
Spencer Ranch, Inc., a commercial cattle company. It is an
ill used and decrepit airstrip with a dirt runway reaching
2,000 feet in length at an elevation of 4,200 feet. It has
not been maintained in over a decade according to Craig
Spencer (March 2003). It was originally built for flying
mail and food to the ranch when the roads were poor. In the
past 10 years the roads have gotten much better and the
company abandoned the airstrip. Craig said the stirp ends at
the edge of a bluff or very close to it. The airstrip is
about 25 miles north of Memaloose.
Tavaputs Ranch is one of the highest airstrips in the
Desolation Canyon and the Green River that lies some 7,000
feet below the Ranch. The runway was originally built to be
one mile in length, but now only half is being used.
Surrounding terrain is sage and evergreen pines. To fly in
here you better know the area, know the approach, and secure
permission from Mr. Jensen.
The ranch offers western-style
accommodations on the rim of Desolation Canyon. Visit their
Website at 222.tavaputsranch.com.
For more information contact Butch Jensen
435-637-1236 or 435-636-5008.
Taxiing up the hill at Tavaputs Ranch