The day dawned spectacular on Saturday so there was no doubt that lots of flying was on the agenda. The first order of business?? Breakfast, of course.
Breakfast was being hosted at the Big Creek airstrip (U60). A lodge existed here until a few year back when a fire wiped it out. A group has been working to rebuild this lodge and appears to now be very well organized. They have the majority of the needed funding and the blessing of the Forest Service. I believe the goal is to have the lodge open within the next four years. Please help in that effort by contact the Rebuild Big Creek group.
Like all of the backcountry airstrips in Idaho, Big Creek is unique. The strip has a fairly reasonable slope to it and there is a mountain in the way. In the Galen Hanselman Fly Idaho! backcountry airstrip book, the mountain of which I speak appears to be a little hill that sits between the runway and the downwind leg of the pattern. Once you are actually there in an aircraft, it is obvious that the hill is, in fact, a mountain and you cannot see the runway from downwind. I had done my research and knew this so it was not a surprise. I had even watched a number of videos of approaches and departures from the airstrips that we planned to visit. I encourage everyone to do this. This backcountry flying is not anything like “typical” aviation and you cannot be prepared enough for the challenges that it presents – on a good day.
After filling our tummies with some super tasty bacon, eggs, and pancakes (amazing how hungry that backcountry makes a person!!), we were off towards Mile High.
Mile High isn’t actually an airstrip in my book. It is a short, angled, mostly clear area on the side of a mountain slope. Yeah, a real challenge and definitely a place for the big wheeled Super Cub type airplanes. There were several aircraft there so we made a couple passes and captured some video.
While in the area, we checked out Vines and Bernard. Next stop? Flying B.
Flying B Ranch (12ID), as I understand it, is a sort of vacation spot, retreat, hunting guide sorta deal. You can rent a room/cabin, ride horses, explore, hunt, etc… It is a very neat place along one of the hundreds (it seems) of rivers in the area. It is not a public airstrip and so it is by permission only. We obtained permission from the air over the radio (to stop and purchase a hat).
They send a truck out to pick you up – the strip is about half a mile from the lodge. The airstrip is a bit of a challenge. It is down inside a pretty small/tight canyon, is kinda short, and none too wide. Nonetheless; my little RV-3 handled it without any problems.
The Flying B lodge is very rustic and western. I think I could turn in my reality and move there permanently without a second thought. After a good look around, we walked back to the airplanes. Along the way, we spotted several dear near the river, not more than a hundred yards away.
The departure out of Flying B has you flying down that deep and narrow canyon clawing for altitude.
Just a few miles up the river is Thomas Creek 2U8). We had never been there and had to give it a go.
The approach to Thomas Creek requires a fairly tight approach and is over a bit of a cliff and kind of has you headed into the face of another cliff (at the departure end of the runway you are landing on). The surface was rougher and more rocky than I expected which resulted in some bouncing around and using more runway than I would have liked.
We stretched our legs and took a short walk around the place. By this time, the afternoon temperatures were climbing and density altitude was getting serious. We could not mess around for long.
The departure out of Thomas Creek is opposite the way in. You have to get some significant altitude to be able to make the turn west and up the first wash. If not, you have to continue down river and then turn around and come back. The RV’s do a superb job with the climbing issue so we made the turn and headed west.
Since we were now south of an east/west line leading to McCall, we decided to give Cascade a little business. After filling our aircraft tanks with fuel we walked over to a nearby flea market kind of place for a very good, very greasy, high calorie hamburger.
The trip back to Johnson Creek took us over Landmark and I kinda wanted to land again given our wonderful experience there on Friday.
The SuperCub.org crew once again put on dinner. It was fantastic!! I didn’t keep track of who was footing the bill – I think Cub Crafters. Thank you guys and also to those that prepared and served it!