Christina Chapman (Idaho)

Christina Chapman flies an American Champion Scout and is based at KMYL McCall, Idaho.

I am a very lucky taildragger pilot. My backdoor is the largest forested wilderness in the lower 48. Central Idaho is home to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness where the famous Salmon River, Middle Fork & South Forks of the Salmon flow, east and north of my home in McCall. Hell’s Canyon is to the west of McCall dropping to the Snake River with backcountry adventure all year long. Local pilots talk about “Flying to Hell and back” for fishing or camping.

Three other wildernesses join the “Frank” so we enjoy about 4.5 million acres of wilderness aviation, most within a hour of my home. That luck goes beyond the ordinary. I’m grateful, very appreciative, and never take life for granted.

I fly an American Champion Scout outfitted for backcountry aviation ordered new from the factory in Wisconsin in 2005. I took delivery December 15, 2005, did a test flight over the factory, and flew it home with one stipulation: Since I had zero tailwheel time, my flight instructor flew back with me and that began my tailwheel endorsement. It was a 3-day flight due to snowstorms in Cheyenne Wyoming and winds aloft on day two exceeded 50 knots which slowed us down considerably. I had some eye-popping landings and wing walkers were required on taxi to parking. My take off from Sioux City was barely two plane lengths in a 18-knot headwind; my plane jumped up with me sqealing with joy. I heard some yips in the backseat too as well, so contagious was that moment of joy.

I slept great each night after complete emotional and physical exhaustion on those challenging but exhilarating flights. Priceless moment after moment storied us across the country. Tied down in Cheyenne, pilots from a Lear and Kingair parked on either side of my Scout were intrigued by that little taildragger and we made an amusing ramp sight. “Wow”, one captain said to me, “Your plane looks brand new. How many hours is on it?” “Three” I said. He just stared and slowly a knowing smile overtook his face. I fell asleep with huge grins every night on that journey home.

My color scheme has a vintage look of burgandy over cream. The tail is red/burgandy in honor of the Tuskeegee Airman–a favored aviation history. The engine is upgraded from 180hp to 210hp. Then I added Tundra Tires. It flies like a dream with a cruise of 122mph. However, I throttle back to a comfortable 70-90 mph in canyons & tight terrain or when flying with friends in their Kit Fox or Cub.

Before my taildragger, I enjoyed a 1959 Cessna 182 for 4 years. Then after my second child, my husband, also a pilot, and I bought a 1982 Turbo 206 and we flew that for nearly 8 years before I bought my Scout. The 206 was our introduction to flying the backcountry. That’s why we moved from Steamboat Springs, Colorado after nearly 30 years there to McCall, Idaho: Just for the backcountry aviation.  Since then we sold the 206 and my husband flies his Found Bushhawk and I my Scout.

I wouldn’t trade my plane for any other right now; it’s that much fun. And getting 8-10 gph is rather economical aviation especially for today’s fuel prices.

When in Idaho, give me a call. There are fewer women aviators these days. Many here stopped flying due to costs or medical reasons. Some sold their planes due to the economic stress. For those of us who still squeak by, stay flying. You’ll notice that I don’t have lot of diamonds or fancy clothes because my fun-money goes to the fuel/maintenance budget.

My passion is the outdoors. I enjoy flying to Indian Creek, Thomas Creek, the Flying B, the Root Ranch, Upper Loon, Moose Creek, or Shearer for backpacking, fishing, or even airplane camping. I’m always up for a backcountry adventure. Life is short. So why not fly? And…Why not fly a taildragger in the backcountry! For me, it has been more bang for the adventure and passion buck.

Christina Chapman
7 Comments
  • Anne Wright
    Posted at 10:17h, 16 April Reply

    Christina, I’ll see you in July at your seminar! Judy called me, said she wanted to go, and I jumped right in – I can’t wait to see your beautiful “backyard”! Your seminar will hopefully help me with my flying and my newest sport, short-track speedskating. Woo hoo!

  • christina chapman
    Posted at 19:12h, 10 June Reply

    I remembered you right away. Love the new paint job. I’ll look up the fly in in Johnson Creek and Garden Valley. I have some retreats planned (new busines) and if there is no conflict, I’ll meet you. Glad you’re retired. You have the time to fly that I wish for every day.

  • Susan Harper
    Posted at 10:33h, 08 June Reply

    Hey Christina,

    Plan to attend 180’s activity in Garden Valley again this year, as well as Johnson Creek’s fly-in – both in July. We first met at the Mtn Flying seminar several years ago, then again last year @ Garden Valley. Look forward to getting out of this heat and back to the cooler temps in Idaho.

    Susan

  • christina
    Posted at 13:39h, 27 May Reply

    Susan,

    Nice to “meet” you out there in Dayton, Ohio. I agree that others perceive pilots as rich, which in many cases they are. But, flying does offer economical solutions, sometimes is cheaper than driving. From Steamboat, Moab Utah is a 6-hour drive. UGH. It was a 1-hour flight. Even using today’s horrific av fuel costs, that’s about $300 for a car in gas and 1/2 that for our 182 that we had at the time and only $100 in my Scout. People will find a way to stay intimidated by things they’re too afraid to try. Any excuse will work and you can’t talk them out of it. More sky for us though!

    I love “Til the spars crack.” You have a great sense of humor.

    Smiles,
    Christina Chapman
    McCall Idaho

  • Susan
    Posted at 06:35h, 27 May Reply

    Christina!!

    I don’t know how in the world the could name some place out there — “Hell” — looks like “Heaven” to me!! I love your enthusiasm and dedication to flying and your plane is just beautiful — much better than diamonds and fancy clothes!!! I had to laugh when you wrote that — people always say — “Flying is so expensive!” To which I reply — “Yep — but I’ve spent a whole lot more on a lot less! It is worth is!!”

    Welcome to LLT!!!
    Til the spars crack!
    Susan
    Dayton, OH

  • christina
    Posted at 17:37h, 26 May Reply

    Anne, I worked three summers for McCall Mountain Canyon Flying Seminars doing mental proficiency stuff. My background in sport psychology in Steamboat with Olympic athletes was so fun that I translated it for bush pilots. Call if you come out. There is all sorts of fun here for pilots. It will ruin you forever. In a good way…
    And you are so right: we are fortunate to fly and own our own planes, especially taildraggers. There is something very romantic about a taildragger. It is a reminder to all of the Golden Age of Aviation. Happy flying in Michigan.
    Christina

  • Anne Wright
    Posted at 16:09h, 26 May Reply

    Wow!! Now that’s a beautiful backyard! I’m a flatlander (from Michigan), and was thinking about going to the mountain flying school in McCall. If I ever get there, I’ll give you a call. We are all so fortunate to be flying and to own our own airplanes, but that kind of scenery just adds to it all.

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