Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Lure Of The Backcountry

Visiting a world only pilots know

It's important before attempting a landing anywhere but on a recognized, approved runway that a pilot start at least monitoring the chat groups on places like or Start talking to those who do it to understand the risks and the rewards. Then seek out the best training available.

Even when properly trained, the smart money goes about learning all of this in baby steps. Don't pick the nastiest runway in the state for your first backcountry venture. And go with guys who really know what they're doing. Don't be a pioneer.

Backcountry pilots are rewarded by the sure knowledge that they're doing something of which only a few pilots are capable. Better yet, they've tasted the delicious silence that settles on an airplane, when the prop stops turning and there isn't another living soul within 100 miles. As the saying goes: That's priceless.

Considering the unusual requirements of off-airport operation, there's a surprising number of long-time certified manufacturers supplying suitable hardware.

American Champion
American Champion's 160 hp Explorer will handle most backcountry runways. For the extreme situation their 180 hp big-wing, big-flap Scout and the 210 hp Denali will get the job done. Price: $134,900 (Explorer); $157, 900 (Scout); $182,900 (Denali).

Aviat Husky
The Aviat Husky is a purpose-built, fast and roomy alternative to the Super Cub. Available in a number of engine and propeller variations, they're all more airplane than the average pilot needs for the kinds of runways they're likely to challenge. Price: $204,192
(180 hp A1C); $249,260
(200 hp A1C).


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