Oct 2020 Want To Fly A Lap Around The Pumpkin Patch?
Many thanks to lady taildragger pilot Kristyn Blocher for creating this inspiring and timely blog post. Kristyn is a Commercial, Multi Engine, Instrument pilot and Cessna 170 owner from Western Washington. She can be found on Instagram at @tailwheeltango.
For a lot of us, the idea of heading to your favorite farm in October with a huge pumpkin patch, corn maze, and hot apple cider is a big “YES please!”
But how about if you could fly your airplane into that patch? Would you want to do it?
This year, I did. And it was glorious. Some of the purest airplane fun I’ve ever had – fun that I most definitely plan to repeat.
I found out that a local farm was inviting pilots to drop in with their planes and had a couple of mowed grass ‘strips’ near their pumpkin fields.
*You have my attention* but I’m thinking, “Really??”
I checked for myself and sure enough! So, of course, they had me at “…come on over with your plane…”
*On it, be right over!*
Similar to a lot of backcountry or private strips, this farm is not a registered airport. It does not have the expected airport markings and is not charted. So I did some Google imaging research and chart plotting before heading over. I was looking for landmarks I’m familiar with to triangulate the specific fields, and spent some time checking out what the approaches look like from both directions. (Trees on one end and difficult to see power lines on the other.) Cool, I appreciate an honest challenge!
A lot of summer debris piles and wood stoves are burning again at this point, so that is helpful and, in the end, I created a location pin in Foreflight for myself which made it all very simple.
Several other area pilots and I flew our airplanes in, on a Sunday. We received a very warm welcome from the farm owner, Scott, and got our fill of the pumpkin patch shenanigans. It was as good as any summertime fly out, but with an added sense of “special” because of the unique circumstances and location.
With 1800′ – 2000’ x 30’ between the power lines and trees of available sod to land on, the parallel farm strips are suitable for anyone who is used to landing on short-ish grass. And yes, the tricycle gear airplanes do just fine with it too!
As someone who finds a lot of aviation joy in small, lesser known and often unpaved airports, being invited to fly into a land owner’s farm checks all of the -yes- boxes on my adventure list. It leaves me feeling fulfilled in a way that is very different than larger airports usually do. Maybe it’s because it makes me use my skills and maintain mastery of this art we call aviation. I highly recommend it!
->The warm welcome was offered by Chapman Farms, of Montesano, WA. You can check them out here at Chapman Farms.
Posted by Kristyn Blocher