Idaho & The McCall Mountain/Canyon Flying Seminar
This trip was a chance of a lifetime. The additional good part is
that now that I had the experience and now have the knowledge about
flying in the area, I can go back and enjoy it again.
Flight path there: desired KLMO-RAMMS-LAR-CKW-RKS-KEMM with an IFR
flight plan and KEMM-KSUN-KMYL afterwards. I have a center
controller friend who was going to be on duty and hopefully be
coordinating the first part of my flight. But Denver Approach had
different ideas. They had me do the Yosemite Departure with YAMMI
transition which took me around my friends area, but never into
Arriving there, I was followed by a large 4 engine Air Tanker for Fire
Fighting. I thought I would do a short approach and get off ASAP
since he was pretty close on my tail. The other fun benefit was watching
him from the taxiway as he landed. Very cool. There was
lots of fire
fighting equipment there. A couple Single Engine Air Tankers,
a paratrooper plane, and one
plane (N1386C) that appeared to have two jet engines and two radial
engines... very strange. At the time there were fires in Utah and
Oregon and near Bailey, ID. Shortly after my trip, there were
numerous fires in the McCall area.
I stayed at the Americinn
Hotel which was very nice and directly across the street from the
airport and was also where the lectures were being held. There
was a free McCall Shuttle that will take you all over town including
passing the hotel. I could even see the fire fighting planes from my window.
The seminar I took was from McCall Mountain/Canyon
Flying Seminars and I took the basic
This was a very cool seminar with a lot of great energy with the super
experienced flight instructors and a group of experienced students all
excited to learn a lot.
3 days of flying in the morning and 4 afternoons of lectures. All
of it great.
My instructors for my
There were 10 students and 5 instructors. There were 2 morning
flights per instructor and each student changed instructors each
day. This worked nicely for me. The instructors
they have are incredibly experienced pilots and instructors.
The three great instructors I went up with were:
Lazzarini: 19,000 hours of instruction experience in 27 years of
mountain flying. An A&P too.
Welsh: Instructor with lots of hours and and A&P.
Bush: 18,500 hours of flight experience, including over 3,000 hours
as a flight instructor and over 1,000 hours in the Idaho
backcountry. He has flown over 100 types of aircraft.
Flight Day 1
The first flight day was going over lots of slow flight including many
many stalls and then some takeoffs and landings at grass strips.
The stalls and slow flight were to determine the best slow flight
speeds for my particular plane (every plane is a little
different). For me, slow canyon speed was 20 degrees flaps, 17"
MP, and 85mph. Short field approach of full flaps and around
65mph; some power is preferred so you have more options. With
that approach configuration, your wings are almost level with the
horizon, but you descend quickly. The touch down and landing
distance is short too. It works well.
Then it was time for my first soft field landing at New Meadows (1U4). Not to big a
deal and a great experience. We did quite a few landings.
Then on to Ski Valley air strip (A private strip I believe). It
was a warm day and I had loaded up the plane so it was getting closer
to gross. This made the takeoff and landings more challenging but
realistic. The winds started getting a little funny including
coming down the valley at just the strength to confuse which direction
to take off. One time, we took off upwind, but uphill. It
ended up a with a crosswind turn pretty close to some trees; at least
it felt close to me. Good to have an instructor with and
reinforced that taking off uphill should be done with great caution.
Flight Day 2
Then on to the second flight day. Johnson Creek(3U2), Landmark(0U0), Indian Creek(S81), and Sulfur Creek(ID74).
Some people went into more advanced strips, but these were great for
me. I had not been in the Idaho area and had not landed on grass
until this trip.
One of the more popular places in Idaho:
(They have water sprinklers for
the grass runway and a nice campground with showers and flush toilets.)
Johnson Creek Live Web cam:
A topographic picture of Johnson
Here is a link to a similar
The ridges to the left and right
are about 4 miles apart and are at 2701m (8861') and 2425m
(7956'). Johnson Creek airport is at 4933'. About a 4000'
hill to the left and 3000' to the right. For comparison, the
Grand Canyon near the visitor center goes from 6878' to 2600' to 7600'
in about 6 miles; 4000' south vertical and 5000' north
vertical, but over a larger distance.
So the landing strip pictures do
not give the full perspective. It was similar depth as the Grand
Landmark Airstrip was
at a higher altitude and made the landing/takeoff a little
longer. This was good practice, but I hear there is not too much
to do at this strip.
(Camping. Launch point for rafters on the Middle Fork of the
Sulfur Creek (Private
Lodge with a restaurant and Cabins) Location for the Advanced Seminar.
Flight Day 3
Then the third day. Big Creek (U60), Chamberlain (U79), Dixie USFS (A05), Warren USFS (3U1).
Big Creek (Has
lodge with a restaurant, and cabins)
This was the place I think I would be most interested to go back
It has camping that seems nice and then there is a lodge for when you
are lazy or tired of camping. Seems perfect.
This one is maybe 50 miles from any road.
Great camping and a river next to it.
Dixie USFS was
great. One of the great things for me is that we stopped there,
shut down the plane for a few moments and heard the river and the birds
and looked around at a beautiful grass strip and wild flowers.
This is the first strip we really stopped at. There was a hiking
trailhead about halfway down the airstrip along with a forest ranger
cabin. It was amazing to think that I could fly my plane to a
spot that was so beautiful.
Warren USFS was pretty
cool. It was on the edge of a small Idaho town. It almost
feels like you are landing at the end of the main street.
I highly recommend this seminar. I think it is best to take after
you become very familiar with the handling of your plane.
Practice your short field landings a lot without dragging the approach
and chopping the power at the obstacle. After the seminar you
become even better at everything. It also opens up the
possibilities for some great adventure flying especially for somebody
who likes the outdoors. They have an Advanced
Seminar that hopefully I will take soon.
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