If you haven’t heard of the High Sierra Fly-In yet, get used to hearing about it right now. The grass-roots fly-in, which takes place on a giant dry lake north of Vegas in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, look like it’s here to stay. The event just wrapped up on Sunday, October 22, after an extremely eventful three days.
The fly-in (or maybe, more accurately, the “fly-out”) got its start as an informal get-together of backcountry planes at a large, remote dry lake called, romantically enough, Dead Cow Lake. After just two editions, it’s safe to say that the High Sierra Fly-In has grown up in a hurry. Despite extremely high winds that some estimated overnight at up to 90 mph, the event was widely deemed a big success.
Check out the High Sierra Fly-In Photo Gallery.
This year there were an estimated 200 planes, 400 people and a large number of RVs at Dead Cow, and this was despite challenging weather conditions for many pilots making their way to the site on Friday. It stayed windy throughout most of the weekend, but that didn’t stop the organizers from putting on a STOL drag race, a contest that combines a need for speed with a need to land short, really short. The contest came down to a final between Mark Patey in his Carbon Cub versus Steve Henry in his SuperSTOL, which Patey won by a hair.
Not every airplane that touched down on the lake was a big-tire taildragger. With lots of landing distance available, the organizers welcome all comers, and this year the visitors included a Grumman Mallard, a Mooney Acclaim and a Cessna 210 among other decidedly non-Outback machines.
Even though there was a contest, the gathering was as much a chance for backcountry enthusiasts to have fun, say hi and rejoice in what aviation looks like far from anything resembling controlled airspace. So, yes, there were fireworks, bonfires, country music, beer and barbeque, all in a setting of pristine natural beauty that reminds us of why we fly in the first place.
Learn more at the High Sierra Fly-In Facebook Group.