Back Country Trip

 This first picture is of Allison Ranch’s airstrip, which is 1475′ ish long.  It was fairly flat in the touch down zone 1-2% and 10% in the last 150′ or so.  It was also a blind approach which meant that you couldn’t see the runway until you were turning to line up for the runway which was about 10 seconds or so before you landed.  Which gave very little time to decide to land or go around.  This was also a Go Critical strip which means that a go around must be decided prior to landing because once past the abort point one had to land regardless because the airplane could no longer out climb terrain and obstructions.  So for here the abort point was just over the river which was just after the runway comes into view one has to either commit to land or go around.

 This is the cabin we stayed in.  There were four of us being introduced to Idaho’s back-country and we enjoyed a very comfortable cabin together with a beautiful view of the Salmon river.

This was a very common view mornings and evenings, we also found a herd of elk on the runway the last morning we were at Allison.
This picture and the next one are of one of the simpler runways we worked.  “Reed Ranch”  It is a US Forest service strip 2200′ long and fairly flat only about 1% slope up both sides to the middle.  It had almost a typical pattern to landing and takeoff but there where still a couple mountains in the way to make it a standard pattern that we would find at a typical NA airport.

This was just a neat picture I thought of the airplane’s shadow on the rock next to us as we approached Mackey Bar for landing.

Enjoying Lunch, the tail makes a pretty good dinner table and flight planning table when out in the wilderness.

This and the next couple pictures are of probably what could be the most difficult runway we used.  “White Water” was 1050′ long 10% slope.  Normally 1050′ would be to short for us to operate out of and maintain MAF’s margins that we have been learning.  However with a 10% slope it drastically helps with slowing down on the landing and acceleration for take off which allows us to adjust the performance numbers and gives us the margins we need to operate safely.  The pictures don’t really do a very good job as showing the slope but if you have ever drove in the mountains I think most of those steep sections of roads only get up to 6-7%.  Basically the touch down end of the runway is 100′ lower then the top of the strip.

We landed at a number of other strips as well along the Salmon and South Fork rivers.  Reed Ranch, Mackey Bar, Allison Ranch, Yellow Pine Bar, Wilson Bar, and White Water.  At many of these places we were met by those that live and here year round and it was very encouraging to meet and greet these individuals that receive their mail by airplane once a week.  On our trip home we also had the privilege of visiting with Ray Arnold a back country pilot legend who also is the mail man for the back country of central Idaho.  It was something to sit and listen to the stories and hardships Ray faced and lived through over the 50+ years as he has been and continues to fly serving the people in these remote parts of Idaho.

The day after my return home we where granted permission to barrow the plane I had been training in and I took the whole family together to Murphy, ID for a Murphy Burger for lunch.  The nice thing about a Cessna  206 is that we all fit in at once. This was the first time in our family’s history that we all got to go flying together.  Lord willing it won’t be the last time, it was a lot of fun even with the rough ride with convective and mechanical turbulence.

At the end of the day I ended with my debriefing from the flight portion of standardization and was presented with a safety plaque that for every year of safe flight operations I will add a decal to as a reminder of God’s blessings in the area of safety.  And I also had to get one more picture of the standardization mustache and beard before it came off later that night to my wife’s excitement.
PS: For the scenery pictures the detail is easier to see if you click on the picture to in large them.

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