Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Life Without An Address

Living the dreams that aviation makes possible

Figure a conservative 125 mph cruise on the Husky. That's 41 miles in 20 minutes. A pretty far piece, as we used to say. So, you find a likable small town located where major highways don't go and side roads are few, draw a circle 80 miles in diameter from the corner grocery store, and within it you're likely to find a place that's not too unlike his. This could be true in most parts of the country.

As for flying hardware, if you don't want/need the bush capability of the Husky and don't want the size/beef/speed of the Aztec, there are lots of airplanes that would work, depending on your local terrain. If you're into hauling stuff and have enough land to get 2,500 feet of runway and good approaches, you can be fairly high above sea level and still operate something like a C-206.

If wanting something smaller, an old square-tail C-182 will do anything you want and won't need as much runway. Either way, you'd be guaranteed 160 mph or better, so your 20-minute circle becomes well over 100 miles across. Now, we're covering some serious territory!

Of course, if you can tolerate roads coming perilously close to your little slice of rural heaven, you can seek out a distant farm, and there are lots and lots of those. This makes the surface drive to town more tolerable, but something like a little C-120 or 150 would make an arduous drive into an easy one.

Incidentally, you don't need to move up into the mountains to find boondocks. Or solitude. Here in the Southwest, we have lots of places where, as soon as you leave town, the area goes into "total hermit" mode. There's a medium-sized horse-ranch complex perched on the edge of my aerobatic practice area that's absolutely invisible to the world. The "road" in is just a scar in the terrain, but I can see a couple of 4x4s in the yard, and there's an unused runway in the backyard. In a straight line, it's not three miles from a major, sophisticated shopping center that's within walking distance of an airport, but there's some curvy, twisty terrain between their runway and that airport. It would be a 45-minute drive but a three-minute flight in anything with wings.

Three air miles past him is a 200-acre perfectly flat ranch perched on the banks of a major reservoir and surrounded by total mountain wilderness. It has to take at least 11⁄2 hours to drive to town, but it wouldn't be a 10-minute flight, even in a Cub. Better yet, the main road through the farm fields runs flat and right into prevailing winds. A flawless runway! They have their own little world. Wonderful amenities. But, no airplane. Sad! Wonder if they know what they're missing?

Both of these sites are so close to the fifth largest city that they're under the upper tier of the Bravo airspace (7,000-foot floor). That's close! Yet they're the epitome of solitude.

I'm certain neither of these places has a conventional address; I find that wildly attractive. Once again, little airplanes plant the seeds of wonderful dreams. They seem to do that a lot, don't they?


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