Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Year-End Push and I Discover a Great Little Uncharted Airstrip

This is a regular blog post. If you’re looking for show notes and links to show audio, please see the other entries.

This is not my favorite time of year. As many of you know, when I'm not flying, writing about flying, or talking about flying, I’m a tech and aviation lawyer. I usually find myself struggling a little to make my hours at the end of the year for any number of reasons, not the least of which lately have been the struggling economy and the fact that I spent an awful lot of time out at airshows and flying this year. So I’m paying the piper these days.

At least I can mark my case of Red Bull in the fridge with my Red Bull Air Race media pass! Man, that was a fun event. I’m sure they’ll be back and Airspeed will be there with bells on covering it.

Anyway, other than a trip on Monday to Chicago and back to see a client (flying commercially), I’m chained to my desk in a mad dash through the end of the year and plan to do precious little flying until January. That case of red bull likely won’t make it to Tuesday.

So I’m driving back from the TLC training event in Mt. Pleasant, where I do the annual legal officer’s presentation for the Michigan Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. I stopped by Uncle John’s Cider Mill just north of St. Johns to get some cider and donuts and stretch my legs.

As I park, I notice markers on the power lines much like you’d see near an airstrip. So I walk to the edge of the parking lot and, lo and behold, it’s an airstrip! I asked inside and, although it’s uncharted and private, you can call ahead and get permission to fly in and land right there at the cider mill. The strip looks like it’s maybe 3,000 to 4,000 feet long. It’s none too level in any particular direction and there are power lines at the western end, but it’s plenty wide and looks like it drains pretty well.

Here’s a shot from the turnaround on the highway to show the power lines and the proximity of the main cider mill building. I’d really pay attention to those power lines because the road is about 20 feet above the level of the runway, so those lines are probably a genuine 50-foot obstacle and they’re hard to see. Best to really study your POH performance data and weight and balance but this looks like a really cool little strip. Got to keep this in mind next fall.

Anyway, back to the grind. Probably two more episodes left this year. One will likely be the holiday episode that I skipped last year due to work pressures. Should have time to write that and do one other substantive episode, but that’s it.

Raise a Red Bull for me! Won’t matter what time of day you do it, I’ll probably be at the office when you do it.

Uncle John’s Cider Mill
8614 N US Highway 27
St Johns, MI 48879
(989) 224-3686‎/

1 comment:

Kent said...

Very cool - But, and I hate to say this, check your insurance requirements. Mine says that the FAA has to recognize it as an airport, IE charted. I can land on grass (or any surface), private strips, whatever but it has to be an FAA-recognized airport. So, this one's out. :( However, it makes me happy to note that on my AirNav search for St. Johns, MI there were FIVE small grass strips. Looking at the chart, they're just peppered all over in that area. Very cool. Just not quite so cool as to have a restaurant right there.