Tricky little airstrip in Idaho

Idaho bush strip

Idaho bush strip – click picture for video

Here’s a short video of a bit more back country bush flying – a landing into a very small, high-altitude ‘runway’ between the trees at Simonds Strip in Idaho. Aircraft is a Cessna 185 with a STOL kit, not as one wag commented, ‘only a 747 would be big enough to carry the pilot’s b***s!’

Impact – a cautionary tale of bush flying gone wrong

ImpactHere’s an interesting story of a bush flight that didn’t go quite according to expectation. A pilot and passenger executing a low level wildlife survey flight find themselves in a bit of bother when the passenger declares he needs a ‘comfort stop’ and the pilot decides to land off airport.

While reading, I found many of the pilot’s comments sounded just a little bit too familiar. Were those occasional close calls just exciting experiences to relate in the flying club bar or had I taken them seriously as the lessons they almost certainly were?

This story is written candidly by the pilot and has useful lessons for us all – read to the end!

Story courtesy of Backcountry Pilot.

Wyoming Ridgetop

Wyoming Ridgetop video

Wyoming Ridgetop video

Another well-made bush flying video with a bit of a difference – landing above the cloud on a ridge top. To many people, this is an example of what flying is all about. The space, the terrain, fortuitous circumstances, all of which come together to produce a remarkable memory – here captured on video.

I can’t help but think that had we reached Innamincka and the Dig Tree on our recent expedition, our experience may have been similar – in a uniquely Australian way.

As usual, click on the photo to link to the video.

170s in the Wrangells

wrangellsHere’s another one for all you aspiring and actual bush pilots – a video about flying and camping in outback Alaska, courtesy of Backcountry Pilot (as usual, click on the picture for the video link). Well, I say ‘camping’ but these flyers stay in ‘public use cabins’ provided and maintained by the Alaska Parks Service. Now that’s my kind of tent! Although there’s more than one mention of mosquitos…I didn’t think those little ******s could survive in such a cold climate but they obviously do.

Bush flying is one of those activities to which quite a lot of pilots aspire. It encapsulates all those ‘freedom’ and ‘adventure’ urges which drive some people. And looking at this short video, I can see how the bug (and maybe the mosquito) can bite you. Crystal clear air, remote airstrips, carry everything with you, enjoy a campfire with friends and share stories of grizzly bears and derring-do.

It’s interesting to see them using the venerable old Cessna 170 – albeit with ‘big engines’ and fat tyres. I particularly like the weathered old blue one, which must have seen a lot of action over the years.

We’re planning our own ‘bush’ flying adventure, with a trip, hopefully, to Innamincka in north east South Australia via Mungo Lodge, Broken Hill and Tibooburra. With a side trip to the Dig Tree of Burke and Wills fame – or is that infamy? That’s if the weather is OK – a big ask at this time of year. Planned departure from Tyabb is Saturday 13 June, returning a week later.

Expected aircraft group includes the Bush Hawk, a Brumby high-wing, a couple of Foxbats and the Interstate Cadet (I don’t have a demo Foxbat at the moment). Flying time total is around 15 hours for the Cadet – probably a bit less for the others. It will be interesting to see if the 74 years-old Cadet can keep up with them. If I can get an internet connection, I’ll post some information and photos of the expedition. If not, then a full report on return…watch this space!

Bush flying in the High Sierra

High SierraIt seems everyone loves the idea of bush flying – and the more remote and different, the better!

Well, click this link to an excellent short video (sent to me by a UK subscriber – thank you!) which covers a group trip in the Sierra Nevada. Keep watching – there’s a great landing towards the end, by the Maule in the photo above. Be sure to click the ‘HD’ (high definition) button and view in full screen!

And here’s a write up of the video by online blog ‘Flight Club’:

“High in the plateaus of the Sierra Nevada, internal combustion engines struggle for breath in the thin mountain air. Where the landing roll is short, but take-off distance is eternal. Follow a group of modern day trailblazers on a high-flying expedition to a giant sandbox for pilots.

Remote backcountry bush flying might conjure images of tiny dirt strips carved into the dense forest of toothpick pines at the base of a snow capped Alaskan mountain. Or strapping on floats and taking a dip into an ancient glacier lake in the heart of the Canadian wilderness, but behold the pilot’s playground in the dry, arid heat of western Nevada. Just southeast of Lake Tahoe, acres upon acres of public property under the domain of the Bureau of Land Management offer various remote landing sites between 4,000 ft and 12,000 ft above sea level.

Now every year 60-70 airplanes gather in mid October to be led by local expert Kevin Quinn on a guided tour to find the last legal landing destinations in the little remaining untamed frontier. The “High Sierra” tour consists of huge roaring campfires at night and short daytime excursions. Even if you don’t have giant bushwheels there is a plethora of dry lake beds, smooth grassy meadows and finely packed sandy strips in entertain pilots of every make and model light aircraft.”

There’s even more information about the video and the people who made it  on the Backcountry Pilot Website (click here).

Maybe we should organise another trip to Lake Eyre??

More bush flying – Zimbabwe

Foxbat owner Mike Kellow, based in South Africa and Zimbabwe, has sent me a couple of photos of his Foxbat up in the tea estates in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe.

The dirt strip is a short 250 metres long, with hills – including an 8,500 foot mountain – at each end, so approaches have to be tight and take-offs quick!

Full size versions of the photos are in the Bush Flying album on Foxbat Pilot’s Flickr site (click here to take you there).

Aberfoyle Tea Estates

Aberfoyle Tea Estate strip crop

Bush flying

Backcountry PilotA good website for bush flying information is Back Country Pilot. They have just released an article and YouTube video about planning and executing safe short field take-offs in rough country. Although the two aircraft they focus on are the Carbon Cub and a heavily-modified Maule – both astonishing aircraft when it comes to short take-offs – nevertheless, the lessons for all bush fliers are relevant. The good thing about the Foxbat is that the tail is already in the air, so need to lift it before take-off like a tailwheel aircraft.

I’m working on some short field take-off and landing videos specifically covering the Foxbat and these should be available later in the year.