This past weekend I had the opportunity to combine flying and cycling – it was great fun!
The plan was to land at the Me-Own backcountry airstrip (1NM0) and then ride our bikes to the nearby Black Canyon campground and creek. We simply wanted to do a bit of exploring.
The obvious problem with this plan is getting a mountain bike into an airplane. My RV-4 friend has a folding Montague which just barely fits into the back of his plane. My bike is a standard bike and there is just no way it is going into the back of my RV-3. So, I cheated. The third fellow in our group flies a Cessna 180 so we loaded both his bike and my bike into his airplane. The real bummer of this is that I really enjoyed this trip and would love to take my own bike in my own airplane – gotta figure out a way to do this so I can fly/bike more often. Oh, I should also note that I decided to remove my wheel pants/skirts for this flight. They sit very low to the ground and are getting a bit beat up with my unimproved airstrip use so this was an attempt at saving them from more wear and tear. Yes, I noticed the difference in flight. My speed didn’t seem to change all that much but my CHT, oil temp, and fuel flow were all up a bit.
Three of us loaded our mountain bikes into our airplanes and headed south. The Me-Own airstrip in the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico. It is about 45 miles west of Truth or Consequences, NM and about 30 miles northeast of Silver City, NM. One of the people on the trip wanted as much video footage of the airstrip as possible so the two of us in RV’s had all cameras operating! Sadly, either the sun was out of position or the runway was oriented in the wrong direction as the video isn’t all that great. Nonetheless; it is something and that is better than nothing, right?!?
The flight down was smooth as glass and beautiful. I suppose it is due to all of the forest fires in the western states but there has been a lot of haze/smoke and relatively poor visibility lately. On this early morning, the sunrise lit up this smoke in some spectacular purples and reds.
The bike ride was great. The Forest Service road was hardpack and gravel in great condition. We didn’t anticipate quite how much climbing there was but it worked out ok – slow and steady! There were even a couple of nice downhill sections to get the adrenaline pumping a bit. I spotted several deer but wasn’t quick enough for photos of them. Of course, I had thought well ahead so I would be prepared for this ride. However; my thinking was “incomplete”. My water bottles were still sitting at home in the freezer… ugh..
As you can see from the elevation profile from Google Earth, getting back to our planes required a bit of work. By this time, I was getting pretty thirsty so begged some water from the other guys. Apparently, they were are not quite ready to get rid of me by leaving me gasping for water in the wilderness as they shared what they had. 🙂
We decided that lunch at another of the backcountry airstrips was in order. We picked Negrito (ONM7) and off we went. Flying over the Gila Wilderness Area is awesome. It is extremely rugged and beautiful terrain.
The Negrito runway was in much worse condition than the last time I was there. Lots of exposed rocks and fairly rough. The good news is that it is incredibly long (7000′) so next time I’ll know the sections to avoid.
I am simply amazed by the solitude and peacefulness every time I visit one of these backcountry airstrips. It is so neat being so far from civilization and getting to enjoy nature at it’s finest. We sat and talked, listened to the wind rush thru the trees, and simply relaxed. Very, very nice!
The flight home was uneventful. True to form, the afternoon bumps had appeared but nothing an RV can’t handle! I even got to fly lead for the entire leg!
I’ll post the video of the Negrito landing tomorrow.