Category: The places you’ll go (page 2 of 3)

I don’t care how you get there, just get there if you can.

AOPA Regional Fly-Ins offer Friday intensive education series.

In regard to the newly announced two-day AOPA Regional fly-ins I am going to paraphrase Oleta Adams song Get Here, I don’t care how you get there, just get there if you can. Ongoing education is vital to the pilot population. Statistics are clear that when we attend continuing education our ability to safely operate airplanes increases. According to national safety seminar presenter Mark Grady, “Several years back it was determined that pilots who participated in the FAA’s Wings Program regularly did not have as many accidents, incidents and even violations as other GA pilots. It simply makes common sense that pilots who take time to do more than the minimum of a flight review are going to be safer. After all, we react the way we are trained in an emergency, so the more up-to-date training we have, the better we handle things that may go wrong.” When AOPA adopted a regional fly-in format versus a multiple day format, I missed the comprehensive educational seminars offered. And though the regional fly-in format is wildly successful, the opportunity for intensive classes was not available. Well, all that changes with the new Friday,  hands-on workshops being offered at all four AOPA regional fly-ins across the country.

Each fly-in offers four subjects to choose from for a Friday seven-hour intensive clinic with excellent presenters. Pre-registration is required. Tuition fees apply: $105 for members, $155 for non-members, and $75 for spouses. I am thrilled to have developed Pilot Plus One which will be offered at all four regional fly-ins. Check out the offerings below:

Owner-Guided Maintenance: Managing Your Aircraft Maintenance
Interested in taking on a larger role in the maintenance of your aircraft?   Join aviation adventurer, JetBlue pilot, and around-the-world adventurer, Adrian Eichhorn and A&P/IAs Mike Busch and Paul New help you determine what you, as the aircraft owner, can do to keep your plane in top condition. Get hands-on with changing the oil in an actual aircraft engine, cleaning and gapping spark plugs, and examining the insides of an aircraft engine to determine its health with the help of these three FAA Aviation Technicians of the Year.


IFR Refresher: Getting Back to Instrument Proficiency
Hear from Jim Simon, chief flight instructor and director of Rainier Flight Service. Simon’s motto is “Safety first,” and he’ll be putting his more than 5,000 hours of flight instructing experience to work so you can get back into the cockpit as pilot in command under instrument flight rules.


Overcoming Mountains & Water: Flying in the Extremes
Join renowned mountain flying specialist Lori MacNichol and AOPA Pilot magazine editor-at-large Thomas A. Horne to learn the skills necessary to fly safely in mountainous terrain, or over water, and learn what items these experts suggest you should have on-hand to survive after a forced landing in mountainous terrain, or after a ditching at sea.  You’ll gather around a general aviation airplane, pull a life raft out of storage, deploy it, inflate it, and don your personal flotation device in a real time run-through of a ditching emergency.


Understanding Aviation Weather

For September 8th-9th Norman, OK you will have a unique chance to tour the National Weather Center for a seminar called Understanding Aviation Weather.


Pilot Plus One©

Pilot Plus One is a comprehensive daylong educational seminar designed to educate, inspire, and encourage adventure pilots and non-pilot companions. The idea is simple, when we recognize the unlimited possibilities for using the airplane for recreation, vacation, business and charitable flights, we will all start flying more now. Pilot Plus One is a lively seminar with ample opportunities for audience participation. At the close of the day, we will have fabulous door prizes from Lightspeed Aviation and Flying Eyes Optics. Our schedule includes leading experts in the aviation.

More Than Just the $100 Hamburger: Fun destinations to Fly by George Kounis, Publisher/Editor in Chief, Pilot Getaways Magazine.

Overcoming Fear Unleashing Potential: Addresses common fears of pilots and right-seat flyers by Robert DeLaurentis, Pilot, author, and philanthropist

Picture Perfect: Tips and techniques to get the best in-flight and at destination photos by professional aviation photographer, Jim Koepnick

Right Seat Ready! This companion safety seminar by Jolie Lucas and Jan Maxwell provides familiarization for non-pilots including airframe, instruments, radios and avionics, aircraft control, emergency communications, navigation, heads-up flight display, and landings. It is a fun, fast-paced, hands on class sure to inspire confidence to be ready on the right.


So make a plan to get to Camarillo, CA., Norman, OK., Groton, CT., or Tampa, FL in 2017. I will look forward to meeting many of you.  Your attendance and participation will make you a more informed pilot.  Bring your Plus One and let us inspire you to have more fun adventures in the airplane.  From educational opportunities to exhibits, displays and camaraderie, these events should not be missed.   For registration please go to:  AOPA 2017

Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. Jolie presents aviation seminars around the country including Sun n Fun, EAA Oshkosh and AOPA. Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Email: [email protected] Web: Twitter: Mooney4Me

Reigniting people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world

Last weekend I flew from Santa Maria, CA to Prescott, AZ for the final AOPA Regional fly-in of 2016. Through my service club, the Mooney Ambassadors, I am able to display an airplane, and have a booth with children’s activities etc. There were over 6000 attendees at the event and I had the opportunity to meet pilots, wanna be pilots, and families of each. One of the folks standing by my airplane was Gillian Blumer. I asked if she would like to come inside my Mooney and we had a nice chat.

Gillian, from Corvalis Oregon, is a freshman at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She developed the passion for flight in a 7th grade science class when they had a mechanics of flight lecture. Gillian is working on her pilot’s license, and she has a passion for aeronautical engineering. If all goes according to plan, she will graduate with an aeronautical engineering degree with a minor in computer science.

Jolie Lucas and Gillian Blumer

Jolie Lucas and Gillian Blumer

When I asked her what she wants to do with her engineering degree, I was completely impressed with her answer. “I want to incorporate aviation into society. A lot of people see airplanes as transportation for long distances or goods and materials. But  I believe with future technology, we can create airplanes for every day life, that can get us from point A to point B in wonderful fun. These airplanes have to fit key aspects: be relatively small [size of car] and able to take off in short fields or through vertical lift. Currently vertical lift airplanes are not efficient because the propulsion it takes is inefficient. I would like to work on making vertical lift planes more efficient. I feel that we could do a lot to advance aviation if we re-designed aircraft engines. I have applied for the Human-Powered Project on campus, which seeks to design a human powered aircraft,” she says.

Her comments about bringing the fun and wonder back to aviation made me think about my friend Brian Terwilliger and his movie Living in the Age of Airplanes. Following its premiere at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC, the film continued its successful run on giant screen, digital, IMAX® and museum cinemas worldwide in 2015 and 2016.

IMG_7813I was lucky enough to see a press screening in Oshkosh and it is set for a Blu-Ray/DVD release October 25th. The movie is simply stunning.  As many of you know Brian was the filmmaker who brought us the aviation classic, One Six Right about historic Van Nuys airport.

To dramatize the remarkably fluid global traffic enabled by contemporary air travel, Terwilliger traveled with his crew to 95 locations in 18 countries searching for some of the most exotic spots on earth. Living in the Age of Airplanes is directed by Brian J. Terwilliger (One Six Right) and produced by Terwilliger and Bryan H. Carroll. Director of Photography is Andrew Waruszewski. Music is by James Horner (Avatar, Titanic) and the Editor is Brad Besser.

“Since we were all born into a world with airplanes, it’s hard to imagine that jet travel itself is only 60 years old, just a tick on the timeline of human history,” said Brian. “But our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration. I want to reignite people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world.”

Reignite the wonder of flight

Reignite the wonder of flight

Terwilliger recruited Harrison Ford, one of the world’s biggest movie stars and an expert pilot, to narrate Living in the Age of Airplanes. “It was important to me that the narrator truly owned the story and had a passion for the subject,” says Terwilliger. “I didn’t want to have a celebrity simply ‘lend’ their voice, because this project is very personal to me, and the narrator plays such an important role. With a documentary like this, there are the visuals, the music and the narrator—and that’s it. I wanted the delivery to come from someone with passion. Harrison was very committed to telling the story and getting it right.”

To create the music for Living in the Age of Airplanes Terwilliger collaborated with another private pilot and kindred spirit, composer James Horner, who scored such Hollywood blockbusters as Avatar, Titanic, and Braveheart. Take a listen to the beautiful SCORE .

Terwilliger hopes Living in the Age of the Airplanes restores a sense of wonder for aviation during an era when many people take air travel for granted. “Flying has become more accessible to more people than at any time in history,” he says. “It’s no longer just for the elite as it was 60 years ago.” But now that mankind has realized its dream of flying after 200,000 years of earthbound evolution, air travel has lost some of its luster. “It’s become such a commonplace experience that it doesn’t seem to kindle people’s interest anymore,” Terwilliger says. “You have a lot of disgruntled passengers where their focus is on the inconvenience and the delays. My hope with this film is that it inspires audiences to see aviation with a new sense of appreciation and awe. If somebody sees Living in the Age of Airplanes and comes away thinking ‘I’ll never think about flying the same way again,’ then it worked.”

For those who would like to check out the trailers for Living in the Age of Airplanes or perhaps pre-order a DVD/Blu-Ray for holiday gift giving, follow this link:AIRPLANES_DVD

We all need to continue to think outside the box. Young people like Gillian will push aviation forward through design and engineering. Creative visionaries like Brian Terwilliger will illustrate the awesome wonder of our world and the ability to live life in three dimensions. What will be your contribution?



Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. Jolie presents aviation seminars around the country including Sun n Fun, EAA Oshkosh and AOPA. Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Email: [email protected] Web: Twitter: Mooney4Me

Pilot Plus One© Educating right and backseat companions on safety and recreational flying



I will never stop working to inspire the love of flight in children and youth. When I meet kids at aviation events I always ask if they want to be a pilot, and it is heartwarming to see a few of those kids’ faces light up.  We should all continue to inspire younger generations in various aviation careers, whether pilots, mechanics or pleasure flying.  However when inspiring the love of flight in children and youth there is a built-in time lag of 8-10 years until that person is a certificated pilot.

Inspire the Love of Flight

Inspire the Love of Flight

My current passion is to get our right- and back-seat non-pilot companions turned on about flying.  Toward that end, I have co-developed Right Seat Ready! © with my teaching partner Jan Maxwell.  RSR is a companion safety seminar in a one and two day format.  Jan and I teach around the country  5-6  times per year.  We have corporate clients as well as community aviation group sponsors like the 99s or local EAA chapters. I am aware there are many quality companion safety seminars offered around the country. I think as a pilot population we should take better advantage of educational offerings for our non-pilot passengers.

Jan Maxwell, RSR Instructor

Jan Maxwell, RSR Instructor

Right Seat Ready! © gives our attendees a wonderful education on aircraft systems, dynamics of flight, and emergency procedures.  Jan has decades of flying experience as well as being the co-owner of Maxwell Aviation a large Mooney Service Center.  As a licensed psychotherapist,  I am attuned to the psychological aspects of the companion seminar.  This usually means addressing common fears about flying as well as education in assessing the left seat pilot’s readiness for flight.

Pilot Plus One© education is dedicated to not only educating the pilot population, but enticing the right and back seat non-pilot companions.  The concept is to offer educational opportunities in which there are sessions for the pilot and the companions.  The more we provide opportunities to reach both audiences, the more we will be flying our airplanes.  This is a life-style idea and it is win-win.  When we address fears and talk about value added through general aviation, the more we are flying immediately.

Most of our companion safety seminars attract male and female attendees.  When talking with my students I have found that once the fear issues have been addressed they are more likely to want to use the aircraft as a recreational, business or charitable vehicle.  This  engagement has an additional benefit of increasing sales of aviation related items: hotels/resorts, fuel providers/FBOs, headsets, luggage, sunglasses, and O2 systems.

Companion education can save lives.

Companion education can save lives.

This weekend Jan and I will be teaching Right Seat Ready at Orange County Airport [KSNA]. The event is sponsored by the Orange County 99s. We have nearly 30 right-seaters registered to come.  I can already tell you what will happen:  the first few minutes we will see the “deer in the headlight” look when we talk about aircraft systems and instruments. Yet in a few hours, the attendees brains will be lit up and they will be able to tell us what a manifold pressure gauge measures, and how to read an altimeter.  The chances of our attendees ever having to land an airplane due to a disabled left-seat pilot is slim, but they will be ready, especially with practice.  What will definitely happen is that our right-seaters will be more engaged about flying, less fearful, and able to see the opportunities available when we fly.

I would like to ask my readers to use the comments section to let me know if your right or back-seat companions have taken a safety seminar or flight lessons, what the barriers are for education, and if you think that education aimed at both the pilot and the companion would be appealing to you. Or contact me using one of the methods below.

There are many wonderful teachers out there educating our right seat non-pilot companions.  Why not give that gift of knowledge to your spouse, older kids, or companions?



Jolie Lucas is a Mooney owner, licensed psychotherapist, and instrument rated pilot. Jolie presents aviation seminars around the country including Sun n Fun, EAA Oshkosh and AOPA. Jolie is the Vice President of the California Pilots Association. She is the 2010 AOPA Joseph Crotti Award recipient for GA Advocacy. Email: [email protected] Web: Twitter: Mooney4Me

Nebraska Nice – The Nebraska Air Trail!

These Air Trails are designed to bring flying and tourism together. The idea is to give pilots another reason to fly and give their passengers another reason to get in the airplane. This time we are highlighting Nebraska.

Nebraska is a midwestern state encompassing the prairies of the Great Plains, the towering dunes of the Sandhills, and the panhandle’s dramatic rock formations.

According to, Nebraska is known for its four seasons and friendly, hospitable residents. Gallup surveys rank Nebraska among the top 10 states with the happiest residents. Nebraska is known as the “Cornhusker State.” The state insect is the honeybee, the state flower is the goldenrod, the state gem is the Blue Agate, and the state motto is “Equality before the law.” Nebraska is the only state in the union with a single house legislature, also known as a unicameral. The 911 emergency dispatch communication system was developed in Nebraska and it was the first state to utilize the system.

I have to agree with on that Nebraskans have to be the nicest people in the country! That has been my experience!

While the Omaha skyline surprises visitors with its big city feel, part of the real beauty of Nebraska lies in the sunsets that spread across the rolling plains. The vast openness of the scenery is overwhelming at first, as every color of the rainbow seems to blend together in perfect harmony.


A few symbols have been added throughout the route to make it easy for readers to identify the facilities and activities each airport/area has at a quick glance.

Figure 1. Symbol Legend.



We have developed a circular route to make it easier to follow with multiple stops. We may have identified too many possible stops but you can start/stop this route from any airport and fly it in any order or direction you prefer. You can also skip and add other stops as you please; these are just suggestions. Fly at your own risk!

The following figures help give a visual of the entire route.

Figure 2. Route Overview (see references to locations in Figure 3)


Figure 3. References to Locations on Previous Sectional

References to sectional

Figure 4. Route on ForeFlight

ForeFlight route

Source: ForeFlight

If you decide to do part or the entire route and use social media, we would love for you to use #NebraskaAirTrail as a hashtag.

Fly safe, fly often, and enjoy the Air Trail!

  1. Omaha

1 Omaha symbols

Omaha is the largest city and lies on the eastern edge of the state along the banks of the Missouri River. Omaha holds attractions like most metropolitan cities across the country. While shopping, one can find goods that run from locally produced items to the exclusive items sold throughout the world. Omaha has areas of revitalization worth visiting such as the Old Market downtown, Midtown Crossing, Benson, and Aksarben village. Omaha also has numerous breweries, a vast array of restaurants of all food types, the world famous Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Josyln Art Museum, and Lauritzen Gardens. In addition, the TD Ameritrade Stadium is the stadium where the College World Series is played every year.

The Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. It offers year-round accommodations and recreational use along the picturesque Platte River. This ultra modern park offers an array of lodging (Little Creek and Lakeside campgrounds near Owen Marine Lake, cabins secluded on wooded ridge tops, and the Peter Kiewit Lodge has 40 rooms), group meeting facilities, and activities (like paddle boats at the Owen Marina or the Family Aquatic Center with water slides, a wave pool, and a lap pool, for example). The lodge also has a restaurant.

Nearby attractions include the Platte River State Park, the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari, the Quarry Oaks Golf Club, and the Iron Horse Golf Club.

You can visit the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum any day you like or you can consider attending when they are hosting a certain regular event, such as their annual Indoor Air Show, Swing Under the Wings, Helicopter Day, or Family Fun Carnival.

The quaint Platte River State Park draws guests to its cabins every year, with the teepees as perhaps the most unique lodging option. Other popular draws are the park’s picturesque waterfall, scenic hiking and biking trails and two observation towers that allow those who climb to the top a spectacular view of the Platte River Basin.

The Omaha area has several airports to choose from:

  1. Nebraska City

2 Nebraska City symbols

“It’s hard to think of a state with a bigger interest in creating shade than Nebraska. And with that in mind, it makes perfect sense that Arbor Day began in this town positioned where the Missouri River valley gives way to the vast Great Plains. Did you know that Nebraskans planted more than 1,000,000 tress on the first Arbor Day? J. Sterling Morton launched the holiday here in 1874, and his Arbor Lodge mansion still hosts tours of both the home and its parklike setting. Next door, Tree Adventure sends visitors into a series of interconnected tree houses and teaches lessons about conservation. Across the valley, the modern Lied Lodge features 140 hotel rooms, a massive indoor pool and the high-end Timber Room restaurant. Thousands come to town for the AppleJack Festival in September. The next month brings prime time for views of the river valley from the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Center on a bluff just outside of town.” – Midwest Living magazine, July/August 2016.

The Nebraska City Municipal Airport (KAFK) is your gateway to the city and you have your choice of runway based on your aircraft capabilities or preference – a 4,500 ft paved runway or a 2,500 ft turf runway.

  1. Falls City

3 Falls City symbols

The John Phillip Falter Museum opened in the historical downtown on May 1, 2015 in the lobby of the former Richardson County Bank. After graduating from Falls City High School in 1928, John Philip Falter went on to become a world-renowned illustrator. The museum features: his Philadelphia studio (on loan from the Nebraska State Historical Society Museum), his 129 “Saturday Evening Post” covers, original Jazz works and prints, as well as other works on loan from local collectors.

The Indian Caves State Park is in close proximity. Named for the park’s large sandstone cave, the park is well known for its beautiful camping and picnicking spots, as well as for its 22 miles of scenic hiking and biking trails along the mighty Missouri River. The park is particularly beautiful in the autumn when you can see wonderful, changing colors.

The Brenner Field Airport (KFNB) is your key to the area.

  1. Beatrice

4 Beatrice symbols

The Homestead National Museum has a Heritage Center and an Education Center. In addition, the 1867 Palmer-Epard Cabin is located just outside the Heritage Center and the Freeman School serves as a reminder of the role the schoolhouse played in the history of settlement on the prairie.

The Beatrice Municipal Airport (KBIE) is a nice little airport with two wonderful crossing runways.

  1. Hebron

5 Hebron symbols

Nebraska is also famous for being home to the largest porch swing in the world. Suspended from a giant crop irrigator pole, it can comfortably seat 24-25 adults.

The Hebron Municipal Airport (KHJH) offers two runways: a 3,600 ft concrete runway and a 2,500 ft turf one. While the airport may not be incredibly busy when you visit, I have seen that airport at one of its busiest time and that was during the 2015 Nebraska State Fly-in and Airshow. They had a great event and turnout!

  1. Lincoln

6 Lincoln symbols

Lincoln is the Capital of Nebraska and the State Capitol is definitely worth a visit.

Nebraska Cornhuskers football is basically a state religion. On game day, Memorial Stadium becomes the third largest city in Nebraska, with over 90,000 screaming fans. With more than 320 consecutive sold out games, the Cornhuskers have been one of the most dedicated fan bases for over 50 years.

Mammoth fossils have been found in most Nebraska counties so the state designated the mammoth as the official state fossil in 1967. In fact, the world’s largest “Woolly Mammoth” fossil was discovered in Lincoln, Nebraska and can be found in the University of Nebraska State Museum.

The Lincoln Airport (KLNK) is Lincoln’s airport and a great one; however, several pilots have landed on the extremely long (12,900 long!) runway when they were cleared to land on the long-enough (5,800 long!) almost parallel (18/36 vs 17/35) runway instead. Look out and review the FAA’s hot spots.

If you are looking for an adrenaline sport… Skydiving Crete is based at the Crete Municipal Airport (KCEK) (not pictured on graphical route), only 16 air miles southwest of KLNK.

  1. Seward

7 Seward symbols

Seward is home to the world’s largest time capsule, buried by Keith Davisson, a man who vowed not to be forgotten. Weighing 45 tons, the capsule was buried in front of a store he owned in 1975 and was marked with a huge pyramid. Set to be opened in 2025, it contains over 5,000 items including a bomb, a pair of bikini-style panties, and even a brand new car.

You have your choice of runway at the Seward Municipal Airport (KSWT): a 4,200 ft concrete runway and a 3,400 ft turf runway. Seward is home to the Midwest Aerobatic Championships, scheduled at the beginning of each July. This year, they had over 30 aircraft and 50 participants!

  1. Grand Island

8 Grand Island symbols

Depending on the time of year you visit, Grand Island creates a huge migratory corridor for Sandhill Cranes. That, of course, is both good and bad news for pilots. Good news… they are pretty and interesting to watch. Bad news… look out the window and avoid them!

The Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer preserves and portrays the inspiring era of the pioneer town builders who created the first communities in Nebraska.

The Central Nebraska Regional Airport (KGRI) has three wonderful runways and, let me tell you, they do come in handy in windy Nebraska sometimes. The airport has an onsite restaurant called the Afternooner’s.

  1. Hastings

9 Hastings symbols

Hastings celebrates the birth of Kool-Aid with an annual festival called “Kool-Aid Days” in August.

The town is also home to Hastings College and the Hasting Museum has a popular Planetarium from 1958.

The Hastings Municipal Airport (KHSI) is just northwest of town.

  1. Kearney

10 Kearney symbols

Depending on the time of year you visit, Kearney also creates a huge migratory corridor for Sandhill Cranes.

The Nebraska Firefighters Museum and Education Center preserves the state’s firefighting heritage, fosters public understanding of the impact and benefit of firefighting in regards to saving lives and possessions, and educates individuals about fire prevention and fire safety.

Pilots like airplanes, cars, motorcycles… you name the kind of vehicle! Kearney’s Classic Car Museum is your chance to see over 200 beautiful classic cars.

And the Great Platte River Road Archway is something to see from both the road and the air… as it spans 310 feet over Interstate 80, representing 170 years of America’s westward movement. It features the story of the homesteaders and pioneers who pushed west.

From the air, Kearney Regional Airport (KEAR) may appear to have four runways. Well, it used to. Now it has two and that is sufficient for us to come and visit. And, if you hear students on the radio, chances are they are students from the University of Nebraska at Kearney 🙂

  1. Alma and Red Cloud

11 Alma and Red Cloud symbols

Alma is another good location for bird watching. I should mention that this Nebraska Birding Trails website is a good guide to Nebraska’s bird-watching.

Although the aerial picture of Alma Municipal Airport (4D9) may show a turf runway, their runway is actually paved and very newly paved, actually.

Have a seaplane or an amphibian? Bring it to Alma! They have Nebraska’s only seaplane base – Harlan County Lake (H63).

Side note: Just east of Alma is Red Cloud and the Red Cloud Municipal Airport (7V7) (not pictured on graphical route). The town is the home of Willa Cather and visited extensively by fans of her books on pioneer life.

  1. McCook and Imperial

12 McCook and Imperial symbols

This area had some serious clashes between Native American tribes back in the day. McCook had a WWII training airfield and Imperial is just a nice little farming and agricultural business town.

The former McCook Army Air Field was activated on April 1, 1943 and it is seven miles north and three miles west of McCook. It was one of 11 U.S. Army Air Forces training bases in Nebraska during World War II. It includes three 150 by 7,500 foot concrete runways, five hangars and barracks for 5,000 men. McCook provided final training of heavy bomber crews for the B-17 Flying Fortress, Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and Boeing B-29 Super Fortress. Today, though, the land is owned primarily by farmers and the Nebraska Bureau of Land Management. Most of the concrete runways have been removed except for a 20′ strip on the E-W and SW-NE runways. About a dozen World War II-era buildings still exist at the former airfield in various states of deterioration including all the hangars. You can find it in google by typing “McCook Army Air Base Historical Marker.”

Figure 5. General Location of the McCook Army Air Field

Figure 5 General Location McCook Airfield

Source: Google Earth

Figure 6. McCook Army Air Field

Figure 6 McCook Airfield

Source: Google Earth

Figure 7. McCook Army Air Base Historical Marker

Figure 7 McCook Historical Marker

Source: Google Earth

The McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport (KMCK) and the Imperial Municipal Airport (KIML) are your gateways to the area.

  1. North Platte

13 North Platte symbols

From the 7th floor of the Golden Spike Tower you can see the largest rail switching yard in the country. Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard is the largest railroad classification yard in the world. Named in honor of former Union Pacific President Edd H. Bailey, the massive yard covers 2,850 acres, reaching a total length of eight miles. The yard is located in the midst of key east-west and north-south corridors, on the busiest freight rail line in America, making it a critical component of Union Pacific’s rail network.

The Buffalo Bill State Historical Park is also in North Platte. Col. Wm. F. Cody (better known as Buffalo Bill) built his North Platte home during the heyday of his famous Wild West Show. Cody owned some 4,000 acres and, in 1886, built the large Second Empire mansion at a cost of $3,900. Sixteen of his acres became a historical park in 1965 where you can see his house, barn, and much of his memorabilia. In addition, Nebraskaland Days is held there for almost a week every early summer with rodeos, parades, concerts, etc.

The Norte Platte Regional Airport Lee Bird Field (KLBF) is the airport you want to fly into. The airport has an onsite restaurant called the Lincoln Highway Diner.

  1. Sidney

14 Sidney symbols

Sidney, Nebraska is the birthplace of Cabela’s outfitters. Go see where the dream of the Cabela family began and take in the whopping 85,000 sq ft of outdoor supplies and a museum-quality taxidermy kids love.

And if you want to take a short detour, the town of Porter is about 10 miles west of town and has the only “Duckpin Bowling Alley” west of the Mississippi River.

I am told the Sidney Municipal Airport / Lloyd W. Carr Field (KSNY) is a very nice airfield with a new pilot/passenger lounge and enthusiastic airfield staff. I believe it in Nebraska…

  1. Scottsbluff

15 Scottsbluff symbols

This is a very picturesque part of the state and most of what is mentioned below can be seen from the air as well as from the ground for two different perspectives.

The Western Nebraska Regional Airport / William B. Heilig Field (KBFF) is just east of town. The airport has an onsite restaurant called the Flight Deck Restaurant & Lounge.

Stretching 300 feet into the sky, the Chimney Rock National Historic Site served as a landmark for travelers heading west throughout history. Not only did Oregon Trail travelers use it, but those on the California Trail and Mormon Trail did as well. Chimney Rock is southeast of town by about 25 miles.

The Scotts Bluff National Monument is just on the other side of town from the airport. Towering 800 feet above the North Platte River and rich with geological and paleontological history as well as human history, Scotts Bluff also served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern travelers.

The town of Mitchell is just northwest of there and is home to the Brown Sheep Company which spins world famous yarn on a family farm.

  1. Alliance

16 Alliance symbols

Alliance is a railroad town and has a large BNSF rail switching yard.

The perplexing but very cool “Carhenge” is found just outside of town. There’s a lot of flat land in Nebraska that seems to stretch for endless miles. That just means there are a lot of places to do some weird things. One of those weird things is Carhenge, made of 38 old cars buried partially in the ground, reminding viewers of the mysterious Stonehedge found in England.

The Alliance Municipal Airport (KAIA) was a WWII Army Airfield Base where they trained glider pilots among others. The “Ghost Bomber,” a lost B-25 from the Cold War, can be seen east of the field.

KAIA was 2013’s host of the annual Nebraska State Fly-in.

  1. Chadron

17 Chadron symbols

East of town is the Museum of the Fur Trade, home to the only museum in the world that showcases the fur trading industry. It has fantastic displays of Native American artifacts, Fur Trapper tools and garb as well as an impressive display of firearms used during this period of the country’s history.

This is a gateway to the Black Hills with very hilly picturesque terrain.

Travel southwest for 30 miles via car from Chadron to visit the Fort Robinson State Park, an old Cavalry Fort. It one time housed “Buffalo Soldiers” who participated in frontier battles and it offers lots of attractions, including jeep and horse-drawn tours, stagecoach rides, hiking, biking, equestrian trails, and swimming among other things.

West of town and just north of the Ft Robinson State Park is the Toadstool Geological Park and Campground, in an area known as Nebraska’s Badlands. I hear it looks like another planet and is worth a visit. The spectacular rock formations and unusual examples of the effects of water and wind over millions of years make the Toadstool Geologic Park Trail Hike a definite “Must See” on any Western Nebraska trip.

The Chadron Municipal Airport (KCDR) is a good 5 miles west of town.

  1. Valentine

18 Valentine symbols

Valentine is on the Niobrara River and has some of the best scenery in the state both along the river and south of town into the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge.

West of Valentine are the towns of Gordon and Rushville. There was a grassroots movement to build approximately 16 miles of the “Cowboy Trail” which is found in other parts of the state and is a repurposed rail bed.

The Miller Field Airport (KVTN) is Valentine’s airport. A leg from KAIA-KVTN or vice versa takes an aircraft over the heart of the Sandhills.

  1. Broken Bow and Ord

19 Broken Bow and Ord symbols

A southeast heading from KVTN gives you the option of:

  • Broken Bow, which is another great Nebraska community and home of the Kinkaider Brewing Company, or
  • Ord, which is home to the Scratchtown Brewing Company and an airport dedicated to Evelyn Sharp, one of Nebraska’s best-known aviatrix during her eight year career as flight instructor, airmail pilot, and ferry pilot.

For a list of other breweries (and even wineries), visit,, or

Now, remember, no drinking and flying!

The Broken Bow Municipal Airport / Keith Glaze Field (KBBW) airport is just north of town.

The Evelyn Sharp Field Airport (KODX) offers two runways: a 4,700 ft concrete runway and a 2,000 ft turf one.

For planning purposes… KBBW is just southwest of KODX.

  1. Norfolk and Columbus

20 Norfolk and Columbus symbols

Norfolk was the birthplace of Johnny Carson, the American television talk show host and comedian.

The Norfolk Regional Airport / Karl Stefan Memorial Field (KOFK) is one of the larger airports we are highlighting in this Air Trail. The 2012 Nebraska State Fly-in was held at the KOFK airport. Keep in mind the Norfalcon Radio Control Club has a Remote Control (RC) airfield just south of the Norfolk airport.

Figure 8. Location of the Norfalcon Radio Control Club

Norfalcon Radio Control Club at KOFK

Source: Google Earth

Just 32 miles south of Norfolk is the town of Columbus, on confluence of the Loup River and North Platte River. Columbus is the birth place of Andrew Higgins, who designed the Higgins Boats used in the Normandy Landings.

The Columbus Municipal Airport (KOLU) is a very active airfield with aircraft restoration. Paul Muhle, a previous Oshkosh grand champion winning builder, has his shop there.


In its entirety, the state of Nebraska has a far more dynamic topography than one would expect. While it may fit the mark of a “fly-over state” from FL350, it reveals at least four different types of terrain that stand out to those of us at lower altitudes.

The Eastern part of the state starts with bluffs along the Missouri River that turn into the rolling hills of the “Bohemian Alps” west of Lincoln. If one flies north or south along the western edge of those hills you can see where the edge of an ancient glacier once flowed (and flattened the middle part of the state).

The mid-portion of Nebraska is flat plains; however, there are numerous rivers running through the entirety of the state which are interesting to follow. Prominent rivers throughout the state are the Niobrara River, multiple branches of the Loup River, the Elkhorn River, and the Republican River. The biggest and most prominent of all is the North Platte which spans the length of the state and has centuries of unique frontier history.

The Sandhills territory starts about the midway point through the state, with hundreds of bodies of water filled by the Ogallala Aquifer. Airfields are few and far in between in this portion; however, if viewed from a car, boat or airplane, this area is spectacular and worth transiting as its own attraction.

The Western portion (Panhandle) has the greatest amount of hills, bluffs, and the beginnings of mountainous terrain. Whether flown from east to west, or west to east, the Panhandle of Nebraska is a striking beginning or end of an enjoyable air tour of this great state.

Additional Sources and Information

Nebraska’s Tourism website has plenty of additional tourism/things to see/things to do information you can review before your trip. You can also request a printed “travel guide” from there. Each year the state promotes different tourism destinations via a passport book. You can download it via an app and collect stamps along the way for a chance to win some prizes!

Not sure how exactly you are going to get around once on the ground at some of these locations? Looking for ways to bring a bike or canoe with you? Take a look at this blog I recently published for some ideas.

Have Additional Time?

The “Friendly Airports and Helipads in the AOPA Central Southwest Region” blog covering NM, TX, LA, OK, AR, KS, MO, NE and IA has a list of those airports that have an on-site restaurant, aviation museum, camping, and/or aircraft viewing area, etc that you may consider stopping at on your way to/from Nebraska.

People and Organizations to Thank

I personally want to thank Ronnie Mitchell, Director of the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics, Rod de Zafra, Pilot and PIREPS Editor for the Nebraska Department of Aeronautics, Jenn Gjerde, Public Information Officer, the Nebraska Tourism Commission, and Tom Winter for their knowledge, time, suggestions, and overall help with this particular Air Trail.

New Mexico True Trails – Route 66 National Scenic Flyway

(Editor’s Note: If you are using something other than Internet Explorer, you may not see all figures)

NM Route 66 symbol

The legendary Route 66 National Scenic Byway, connecting Chicago with Santa Monica, enters New Mexico across a vast, sunlit prairie before meandering through rocky outcrops, quiet streams and adobe villages. Along the route, the high desert landscape is both austere and sublime, its red-hued cliffs dropping off into immense llanos or pine-wooded hills and valleys. Motels and 1950s diners with restored neon signs line portions of the Route 66. This “Scenic Flyway” is a flying version of the famous National Scenic Byway as designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

The National Forest and the National Parks Service have considerable land holdings in New Mexico and along historic Route 66. They include hiking trails, campgrounds, monuments, picnic areas, and scenic roadways.

One unique and historic part of this Scenic Flyway is the 1920’s air corridor across New Mexico that generally followed the Santa Fe Railroad tracks to Gallup, and on into Arizona. By 1929, this route became part of the Midcontinental coast-to-coast airway, developed for passenger service by the fledgling Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) company, with Charles Lindbergh as the head of its technical advisory team.

In an era before radar, pilots depended solely on ground-based landmarks and road maps for guidance. The first airway navigation system was developed in the mid-1920s for airmail service, initially by the Lighthouse Service of the Department of Commerce. On the early mail routes, these sites, with 51-foot beacon towers, were spaced every 10-15 miles for night navigation. For daytime flight, the design included concrete arrows at airway beacon sites. Federal emergency landing fields were also located every 40-50 miles as terrain would allow.

Soon, airline mergers and new radio navigational aids led to realignment of the TAT airway route, with several of its concrete day arrows left behind on lonely hilltops. Dating from 1932, there are two arrows at auxiliary airfields plus eight more at isolated airway beacon sites across New Mexico, from Texas to the Arizona border (a few others are now gone). This route will take you over some of those TAT arrows and you will also have a chance to visit one of those restored beacon sites in person. The Cibola County Historical Society / Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum provided the names and locations (with exact coordinates) of the identified and still existing beacons and arrows in this document and some of them are also included below.

The following figures help give you a visual of the proposed route and stops.

Figure 1. Route Overview

Figure 1. Route Overview

Figure 2. First Half of the Route (East to West) (see reference to locations in Figure 4)

Figure 2. First half of route

Figure 3. Second Half of the Route (East to West) (see reference to locations in Figure 4)

Figure 3. Second half of route

Figure 4. References to Locations on Previous Sectionals


Or, for easier reference, you can view the route in a screenshot of ForeFlight.

Figure 5. Route on ForeFlight

ForeFlight overview

Source: ForeFlight

Keep in mind some of these airports may not offer fuel. Please plan accordingly! You may also want to pack a set of tie downs for your aircraft.

If you decide to do part or the entire route and use social media, we would love for you to use #Route66 as a hashtag.

Fly safe, fly often! Enjoy this Scenic Flyway!


A few symbols have been added throughout the route to make it easy for readers to identify the facilities and activities each airport/area has at a quick glance.

Figure 6. Symbol Legend


Flight Planning Resources

Always remember to use current charts and always check notams prior to departure.

Google Earth may be a great tool for you to become familiar with the location of certain things, especially TAT arrows, before embarking on your flight. However, keep in mind Google Earth images may not always be recent. This is an example of the format you should use in Google to enter coordinates: 35° 03’ 22.28” N, 106° 47’ 39.86” W.

If using ForeFlight for flight planning and as your Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) in the aircraft, this is an example of the format you should use to enter coordinates: N35032228/W106473986 (same coordinates as above but with a pretty different format).

Also remember that ForeFlight has different map features that may be helpful to you as you are looking for landmarks in addition to the typical “U.S. VFR sectional” or “U.S. IFR (low)” we use, such as:

  • World map
  • Terrain map
  • Street map
  • Aerial map

Other flight planning tools may have similar capabilities.

Safety Resources

It is always good to review best practices and tips when flying around mountains. Subjects like density altitude, turbulence, or terrain really become a player in this type of flying. Here are some resources on the topics:

If you have never flown around mountains, you may also want to consider taking a “mountain flying” course. The New Mexico Pilots Association (NMPA) offers one every year, normally in September, in Santa Fe.

Most locals fly early in the morning on hot summer days.

Route (east to west) (from Texas to Arizona)

  1.  Glenrio. In the route as a fly over point only.
  2. San Jon. In the route as a fly over point only.
  3. Tucumcari (KTCC)

Route 1

Due to construction over the years, it is unclear if there was ever a Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) arrow at the Tucumcari airfield; however, Clovis was the terminal and transfer between planes and trains. The beacons between Clovis and Albuquerque were relocated to the Amarillo-Tucumcari-ABQ alignment when the plane-train service ended in 1930-31 and the four-course range (radio beam) was established. Except for airfields, no concrete arrows were built that late. Tucumcari, a city airfield, apparently did not have one on the new route, while the two isolated Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA) fields did have arrows on the 1932 Los Angeles-Amarillo Airway airfields, numbered as Cuervo LA-A 81B and Anton Chico LA-A 78A. This is similar to the 1929-1930 southern border airway, which has arrows only at landing fields.

The Cuervo CAA Intermediate Airfield (you can still see the runway marker circle) and associated arrow (site LA-A Site 81B) can be found at 35° 06’ 25.32” N, 104° 24’ 29.09” W.

Figure 7. General location of the Cuervo CAA Intermediate Airfield and Arrow

Figure 1

Source: Google Earth

Figure 8. Arrow and Runway Marker Circle at the Cuervo CAA Intermediate Airfield

Figure 2

Source: Google Earth

As an anecdote, nearby Conchas Lake Seaplane Base (E61) is the only seaplane base in the state. There is also a 4,800 ft airstrip near the shore of the man-made reservoir. From the Pilot Getaways magazine, Fall of 2000: “The large lake you see in the middle of New Mexico’s barren desert is not a mirage. Camping, fishing, hiking, and tranquility are the best aspects of Lake Conchas. Enjoying a 15-mile long lake after a short flight is a wonderful treat for pilots in a land-locked state.”

4. Santa Rosa (KSXU)

Route 2

Land on part of the original Route 66! Santa Rosa’s runway 08 is an old stretch of Route 66. In the mid-90s, a group of volunteers painted a Route 66 logo on the centerline of the runway; however, with post resurfacing and runway work, unfortunately that logo was covered.

The original, pre-1937 alignment of Route 66 ran south of Interstate 40. However, it cannot be followed now because part of the road is on private land and another section is now part of the runway at the Route 66 Municipal Airport.  The post-1937 alignment follows US Hwy 54 and the I-40 Business Loop.

The picture below shows the alignment of the runway with the main road though town and the old roadbed beyond the airport to the east.

Figure 9. Santa Rosa Airport and Surroundings

Figure 3

Source: Dick Perry

Santa Rosa’s main attraction is unique: the Blue Hole, an 80-foot-wide, 80-foot-deep artesian well filled with water so crystal-clear that it draws scuba divers from all over the western states to practice their underwater techniques here. The water of the Blue Hole, at around 61°F, is too cold for casual swimming but, in the summer heat, it’s a great place to cool your heels.

The Blue Hole is well signed at the end of Blue Hole Road, a half mile south of old Route 66; for purists, Blue Hole Road is old, old Route 66, since it formed the early (pre-1937) alignment of the Mother Road across Santa Rosa, the rest of which is used as a runway at the city’s airport. East of here, running along the south side of I-40, one of the oldest stretches of Route 66 is only partly paved and best done in a 4WD or on a mountain bike. Here you get an indelible sense of what travel was like in the very early days, when less than half of the route’s 2,400-odd miles were paved.

The arrow at the Anton Chico CAA Intermediate Airfield (site LA-A Site 78A) can be found at 35° 08’ 9.10” N, 105° 05’ 5.15” W.

Figure 10. General location of the arrow at the Anton Chico CAA Intermediate Airfield

Figure 4

Source: Google Earth

Figure 11. Arrow at the Anton Chico CAA Intermediate Airfield

Figure 5

Source: Google Earth

Sub route A – Original Route

A1. Moriarty (0E0)

Route 3

The Moriarty airport has a CAA beacon tower and station house from the 1932-64’s Otto airfield.

Moriarty boasts some of the finest year round soaring conditions in the United States, including 15 knot thermals to 22,000 ft, mountain wave to 34,000 ft, and orographic lift off the Manzano, Sandia, Ortiz, and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges. Many flights in excess of 300 miles are recorded each year.

Whether you are novice or an expert glider pilot, either one of these groups would be happy to show you around:

  • Sundance Aviation is a commercial glider operator. Check out their inspiring video!
  • The Albuquerque Soaring Club (ASC) was established in 1960, has approximately 80 active members, and owns two Piper Pawnee tow planes and four club gliders.

Gliding is such a big part of Moriarty that they also have a museum dedicated to soaring – the U.S. Southwest Soaring Museum.

A2. Sandia East (1N1). In the route as a fly over point only; however, feel free to stop in.

To KAEG via Tijeras (VFR checkpoint) OR via the Pumping Station (VFR checkpoint)

Sub route B – Later Route

B1. Las Vegas (KLVS)

The now-retired Southwest Aviator magazine wrote a nice story on Las Vegas, New Mexico back in March/April of 2004 covering its tourist appeal as well as its aviation history. While most of its information still applies, keep in mind it is from 2001 so some of the phone numbers and airport information, for example, may be different now.

The Santa Fe Trail travels from Las Vegas to Santa Fe via San Miguel del Vado, Pecos Ruins and Glorieta Pass.

B2. Romeroville. In the route as a fly over point only.

B3. San Jose. In the route as a fly over point only.

B4. Pecos Pueblo.

Route 4

The Pecos National Historical Monument has visually stunning ruins and was one of the largest of all pueblos just prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.

B5. Santa Fe (KSAF)

Route 5

Santa Fe sits at the base of soaring Sangre de Cristo Mountains in central New Mexico. Founded as a Spanish colony in 1610, Santa Fe embodies a rich history and a melding of Native American, Spanish, Hispanic, and European cultures. It is renowned for its pueblo-style architecture, colorful markets, traditional and contemporary art, amazing cuisine, and unparalleled outdoor adventures. Santa Fe is ranked as the #1 Cultural Getaway by Travel+Leisure, Best High Altitude City by National Geographic, and Reader’s Choice Best Shopping Cities in the World by Condé Nast Traveler.

From the Pilot Getaways magazine, Fall of 2001: “Something magical in the light of Santa Fe has attracted a vibrant artistic community to this town on a New Mexico plateau. Here pueblo Indians continue their traditional lifestyle while a modern culture thrives. Exotic and beautiful, it is a place you should explore on foot, wandering the Farmers Market and galleries. Fall is the perfect time to avoid the crowds and enjoy the changing landscape.”

“Santa Fe Municipal Airport (KSAF) – with its charming terminal building, new-Mexican flair café, and exceptional Fixed Base Operators (FBOs) – is the gateway to a world-class, must stop destination along the Route 66 Flyway.” – Cameron Humphres, Santa Fe’s Airport Manager.

With all that it has to offer and 320 sunny days per year, Santa Fe is a magical, exuberant, colorful, world-class destination.  Come see for yourself why Santa Fe is known as “The City Different.”

There are many things to see and do in its historic downtown. For more information, visit:

And, while in Santa Fe, you may want to visit the “Oblique Views: Archaeology, Photography, and Time” exhibit at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. It tells the story of the Southwest through the aerial photographs of Charles and Anne Lindbergh and Adriel Heisey.

B6. Switchback Hills at “La Bajada” Hill

Route 6

La Bajada Hill is considered the dividing point between the Rio Arriba (upper river) and Rio Abajo (lower river). Travelers on the Camino Real could take this route to reach Santa Fe, which became part of Route 66’s pre-1938 alignment. Barely 1.5 miles long through though volcanic rock, the old road on La Bajada Hill included 23 hairpin turns and was famous for overturned wagons and boiling radiators. It was so steep that gravity-fed tanks had to take it in reverse. In 1932, a new road up the escarpment was laid out slightly to the east and later widened into I-25. La Bajada means “the descent.”

Figure 12. Switchback Hills

Figure 6

Source: Elizabeth Hunke

      5. Coronado Historic Site (along Rio Grande River)

Route 7

The Coronado Historic Site is an archaeological dig in the 1930s uncovered the foundations and several Kivas (one restored that visitors can descent into). The views along the Rio Grande and of the Sandia, Jemez and Sangre de Cristo mountains from the site are spectacular. There is campground available.

6. Albuquerque (KAEG)

Route 8

Gemit Paulsen said it well in the intro of the “Albuquerque – An Exciting Blend of Cultures” article he wrote for the Southwest Aviation magazine:

“Four centuries of history can’t be wrong. Abundant natural beauty, a year-round mild climate, and the subtle blending of the many cultures that comprise its history make Albuquerque, New Mexico an exciting destination well worth exploring.”

Two aviation magazines covered Albuquerque’s “to do’s” and history well:

  • The Southwest Aviator magazine did a story on Albuquerque’s history and local sights back in March/April 2002.
  • From the Pilot Getaways magazine, dated September/October 2014: “Albuquerque has been the location for AMC’s popular show Breaking Bad, but the real city defies the stereotypes seen in the show. Set in the shadow of the beautiful Sandia Mountains, and with the Rio Grande running through it, Albuquerque makes a wonderful—and safe—weekend getaway. As Managing Editor Crista Worthy explains, visitors can start with Petroglyph National Monument, which begins right across the street from Double Eagle II Airport. In the monument, you can view hundreds of ancient petroglyphs and hike to several volcanoes. Outdoor enthusiasts can also hike or bike the Sandia Mountains, where they’ll enjoy cool breezes and expansive views of the valleys below. Or go for a jog beside ancient, tree-line acequias (irrigation ditches), which residents still use to irrigate their locally grown crops. Every October, fans of hot-air ballooning flock to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world’s largest. You’ll feel pure joy when you watch about 600 colorful balloons ascend into the blue sky or when you watch the evening Balloon Glows. Pilots can take a tour of the Eclipse jet factory to see cutting-edge technology right on the assembly line. Albuquerque has plenty of upscale shopping and art galleries, as well as authentic Indian jewelry and art, all over town. You’ll want to try authentic New Mexican cuisine while you visit. When it comes to chiles, New Mexico takes them seriously. Even their state question is: “Red or green?” This refers to what type of chile sauce you’d like. If you can’t decide, just order it “Christmas” style, and get both! Accommodations range from upscale eco-hotels downtown with hopping nightlife and rooftop bars to cozy B&Bs and even an historic farmstead designed by a legendary architect in his signature Pueblo Revival style. Like so many others who visit, we bet you’ll fall in love with this place!”

The Matador Network lists “The Luz Trail” as “one of New Mexico’s Most Spectacular Hikes.” It is an incredibly popular but difficult trail. Found on the west face of the Sandia Mountains, right on the edge of Albuquerque, La Luz Trail climbs eight miles to either the crest of Sandia Peak or over to the Sandia Peak Tramway. It is a rough hike intended for the fit, gaining nearly 4,000 feet on an impressively steep grade, and for most of the year the dry air will literally suck the moisture from your body. Take plenty of water with you. One of the best things about this climb is the experience of crossing multiple climatic zone and ecotones, which means rapid flora and fauna changes as you gain elevation. Oh, and then there’s the view. Not only is the city below impressive, you get to see all the surrounding mountains from up high: Mount Taylor to the west, the Sierra Ladrones in the south, and the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo mountains to the north.

The Double Eagle II Airport (KAEG) has an on-site restaurant, the Bombing Range Café, with wonderful views of the airfield. The old Southwest Aviator magazine did a story on it back in 2004 when it was called The Prop Wash Café.

Want to camp? You may do so at the Enchanted Trails campground close to KAEG.

Albuquerque features more than 400 miles of on-street bicycle facilities and multi-use trails. The Paseo de la Mesa Trail runs right by the Double Eagle II airport. And, of course, you can always create your own route. Here is one that stopped at the Double Eagle II airport a group under the New Mexico Touring Society organized on February 6, 2016.

The Petroglyph National Monument is a nationally protected 17 mile escarpment left from volcano activity hundreds of thousands of years ago. There are over 15,000 petroglyphs created sometime between 1300 and 1600. This is a good place for hiking.

Albuquerque has both a downtown and an Old Town (historic downtown). For more information on things to see and do there, visit:

Most people associate Albuquerque with balloons and rightfully so as the city has a long standing history with the aeronautical activity:

  • The Albuquerque Balloon Museum is a good place to visit and learn about the city’s ballooning history.
  • Held every year, Balloon Fiesta is Albuquerque’s most popular festival. It is normally held in October although their website can always confirm it. Going to the 2016 AOPA Regional Fly-in in Prescott, AZ on Saturday, October 1st? The 2016 Balloon Fiesta starts that same day so you may want to consider stopping in Albuquerque on your way back for that! Beautiful balloons of all colors will be flying over.
  • But, if you’re not there during Balloon Fiesta, you can just about see a balloon on any particular nice morning (early morning, that is!).

West of Albuquerque, several arrows remain from the 1929 TAT Midcontinental Airway route; however, these gray TAT concrete arrows can be difficult to spot on the desert floor.

The first arrow site is Beacon TAT 76 (9-Mile-Hill Beacon LA-A 68) at 35° 03’ 22.28” N, 106° 47’ 39.86” W. It is on the mesa just south of I-40. Note, this site is under KABQ’s Class C airspace and just south of KAEG’s Class D airspace.

Figure 13. General Location of TAT Site 76

Figure 7

Source: Google Earth

Figure 14. Arrow at TAT Site 76

Figure 8

Source: Google Earth

The Rio Puerco Valley Beacon is TAT Site 75 and can be found at 35° 01’ 49.75” N, 106° 58’ 34.53” W. It is just north of Interstate 40 and east of a dirt road, soon after flying over the Route 66 Casino Hotel and Travel Center.

Figure 15. General location of TAT Site 75

Figure 9

Source: Google Earth

Figure 16. Arrow at TAT Site 75

Figure 10

Source: Google Earth

      7. Las Lunas

Route 13

TAT Site 74 is on a low mesa rim. The easy-to-see visible feature to help you find it is the junction of I-40 and NM Hwy 6, about a mile west of the arrow. The coordinates are 34° 59’ 05.13” N, 107° 08’ 56.22” W.

Figure 17. General location of TAT Site 74

Figure 11

Source: Google Earth

Figure 18. Arrow at TAT Site 74

Figure 12

Source: Google Earth

      8. Laguna Pueblo and Acoma

Route 13

To respect Native American culture, please avoid low flying over Laguna and Acoma (also known as Sky City).

Laguna Pueblo is the largest Keresan-speaking pueblo. Historians believe the ancestors of the pueblo have occupied the Laguna homelands since at least A.D. 1300. For more information, visit: and

Acoma, believed to have been established in the 12th century or even earlier, was chosen in part because of its defensive position against raiders. It is regarded as the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States. Both the mission and pueblo have been designated as a Registered National Historical Landmarks. For more information (including tour information), visit: and

Enroute to Grants-Millan (KGNT) From Laguna Pueblo

Route 13

Two miles northwest of Seama, TAT Site 72 (also called Seama Mesa) sits south of Flower Mountain, not far from Interstate 40. The coordinates are 35° 02’ 55.4” N, 107° 32’ 46.1” W.

Figure 19. Location of TAT Site 72

Figure 13

Source: Google Earth

TAT Site 71 (also called Anzac Mesa) is located on a small mesa above the lava flows in the valley of the Rio San Jose, Rte. 66, and the Santa Fe tracks. This arrow was a key turning point to follow the TAT airway and railroad west to Gallup. It is a mile northwest of the abandoned Acomita Intermediate Airfield (1932-52) and its radio range navigational site. The coordinates are 35° 03’ 39.73” N, 107° 43’ 31.53” W.

Figure 20. General Location of TAT Site 71

Figure 14

Source: Google Earth

Figure 21. Arrow at TAT Site 71

Figure 15

Source: Google Earth

      9. Grants-Millan (KGNT)

Route 12

The Western New Mexico Aviation Heritage Museum at the KGNT airport honors those pioneer aviators who crossed the West along the 1929-era Los Angeles-to-Amarillo segment of the Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) route. You can see Beacon LA-A 62, complete with a painted tower and corresponding generator shack, at the museum.

El Malpais National Monument was formed by millions of years of volcanic activity. The lava flows have created a unique, beautiful and eerie landscape. The 115,000 acre monument is also known for its archaeological sites.

The Matador Network lists the “Zuni-Acoma Trail” as “one of New Mexico’s Most Spectacular Hikes.” “For over 1,000 years, the pueblos of Zuni and Acoma were connected by a 75-mile trail traversing some of the roughest territory in the Southwest. Today, eight miles of this ancient trail remain in El Malpais National Monument, and it is still peppered with the rock cairns, and ceramic debris left by the region’s original inhabitants. For experienced hikers, eight relatively flat miles may seem like a walk in the park. But be warned: This is a serious adventure that will take about six hours one way. The Zuni-Acoma Trail crawls over rugged lava flows and frequently disappears — it’s marked in many places by nothing more than simple rock cairns. Located 16 miles south of Interstate 40, the western trailhead begins on NM-53. The eastern trailhead can be found on NM-117. Carry plenty of water, wear solid, reliable boots, and above all…enjoy.”

Enroute to Gallup (KGUP) from Grants-Millan (KGNT)

Route 13

TAT Site 69 (also called Prewitt) was another key turning point for TAT to follow the Santa Fe Railroad route up toward the Continental Divide and Beacon TAT-68. This may have been a 75-foot tower. The coordinates are 35° 21’ 45.25” N, 108° 02’ 45.70” W.

Figure 22. General location of TAT Site 69

Figure 16

Source: Google Earth

Figure 23. Arrow at TAT Site 69

Figure 17

Source: Google Earth

TAT Site 68 (also called Continental Divide) may be hard to spot due to several adjacent structures, and the vegetation growth around the tower site. The coordinates are 35° 25’ 36.67” N, 108° 18’ 11.60” W.

Figure 24. General location of TAT Site 68

Figure 18

Source: Google Earth

Figure 25. Arrow at TAT Site 68

Figure 19

Source: Google Earth

TAT Site 67 (also called ChurchRock Rd / Ft Wingate) is the last confirmed TAT arrow in western New Mexico, although another is rumored to have been just west of Gallup. At this beacon site, right next to Old Route 66, the generator shed was destroyed when I-40 was constructed. The coordinates are 35° 31’ 45.83” N, 108° 36’ 23.10” W.

Figure 26. General location of TAT Site 67

Figure 20

Source: Google Earth

Figure 27. Arrow at TAT Site 67

Figure 21

Source: Google Earth

      10. Gallup (KGUP)

Route 14

Gallup is known for its trading posts where one can buy and sell Native American jewelry, clothing, pottery, carvings, art, etc.

From the Pilot Getaways magazine, November/December 2010: “Gallup is often called the Indian Capital of the World, and if you love Native American arts, you will absolutely love this place. Indian artists from the Navajo, Zuni, Acoma, Laguna, and Santo Domingo Pueblos bring their finest creations to the authentic trading posts here. Step inside one of these trading posts and be blown away by the sheer quantity of turquoise, pottery, and rugs. As Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy explains, the staff will be happy to give you a tour into their vaults where many Indians store their most precious possessions. You can buy with confidence, knowing exactly where and by whom a piece of jewelry was made, and perhaps even learn a bit about the artists themselves. Downtown Gallup bustles with local activity and diversity. Savor authentic Southwestern cuisine at low prices. Visit the historic El Rancho Hotel with its Western and film memorabilia, and then take a few side trips. The countryside is loaded with national monuments, including the fantastic Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Make a visit to the nearby Zuni Pueblo and meet local artists in their studios. December brings the Red Rock Balloon Rally, with upwards of 200 hot air balloons filling the skies, as well as parades, dancing, and other activities. In August, come for the Intertribal Ceremonial, where Indians from tribes all over the U.S. converge to show off their finest clothes, dances, jewelry, and other arts.”

Pilot Getaways’ Spring of 1999 magazine mentions flying into Gallup Municipal Airport (KGUP). “Following the interstate keeps aircraft away from rough terrain. Gallup Municipal Airport (GUP) is stretched out along the south side of Route 66, about a mile south of Interstate 40. For VFR arrivals from either east or west, it is easy to find; simply follow the interstate and look for a runway parallel to your flight path. If you’re having difficulty spotting the airport, look for Highway 666, one of the few major highways branching off towards the north, just east of the airport. Flying in the pattern at GUP is deceiving because the terrain underneath the pattern is higher than the airport elevation of 6,469 feet; you will tend to be high when coming in for landings. Be aware that there may be substantial loss of performance due to the elevation and high temperature.”

KGUP has an on-site restaurant called Badlands Grill. They are known for their steaks.

Side Trip to Ramah

Route 15

Mystic Bluffs (NM56) is a privately owned, private use airport (except for one weekend a year when everybody is invited to their annual fly-in/camp-out) so remember to ask for permission prior to landing and operate at your own risk. However, even if not landing, it is still a very beautiful area to explore from the air.

A reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff made, El Morro (the headland) National Monument was a popular campsite for hundreds of years.

All of New Mexico provides wonderful hiking opportunities; however, water is scarce in certain areas. Depending on the season and year, you can hike to waterfalls and find canoeing opportunities around Ramah.

Refer to another blog titled “3rd Annual Backcountry Fly-in at the Beautiful Mystic Bluffs (NM45) in New Mexico” for more information and pictures of NM56.

11. Manuelito. In the route as a fly over point only.

Have Additional Time and Coming From or Going To the East/Northeast?

Route 16

The AOPA Central Southwest Regional Page covering NM, TX, LA, OK, AR, KS, MO, NE and IA has a blog on “friendly airports and helipads” with a list of those that have an on-site restaurant, aviation museum, camping, and/or aircraft viewing area, etc that you may consider stopping at on your way to/from the Route 66.

Sources for Additional Information

The New Mexico Department of Tourism has a link with information and a video about the “Route 66 National Scenic Byway” on their website.

The New Mexico Route 66 Association has a wonderful website with all the information you can possibly need regarding Route 66 as it travels through New Mexico.

Not sure how exactly you are going to get around once on the ground at some of these locations? Looking for ways to bring a bike or canoe with you? Take a look at this blog I recently published for some ideas.

People and Organizations to Thank

Several people and organizations have contributed information to the creation of this Flyway. Their knowledge, time, and efforts for the benefit of all pilots and passengers are highly appreciated:

  • Steve Summers, Director of Aviation, New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT)
  • Joyce Woods, Vice President of the New Mexico Pilots Association (NMPA) and AOPA Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer for KAEG
  • Steve Owen with the Cibola County Historical Society at the Grants-Milan Airport
  • Cameron Humphres, Airport Manager for KSAF
  • Elizabeth Hunke and Dick Perry for their pictures
  • Pilot Getaways magazine
  • Sometimes Interesting
  • Zhanna’s Beacon Survey Station Database




“Flying Oz,” the Ozarks Air Trail!

(Editor’s Note: If you are using something other than Internet Explorer, you may not see all figures)

Rugged beauty, stunning vistas, secluded cabins and B&Bs, unique lodging options, cute towns, camping, sparkling rivers to canoe or kayak, lakes for different water activities, waterfalls, fish-filled lakes and rivers, hiking and biking trails, off-roading trails, horseback riding trails, zip-lining, fly boarding, golfing, museums, awe-inspiring caverns, shopping, interesting history… the Ozarks offer enjoyable and fun year-round adventures and activities and available to pilots with average to above average skills.

The Ozarks, covering portions of three states (Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma), truly have it all, including great fly-in options! This road map shows what is considered “the Ozarks.”

Figure 1. Byrd’s Backcountry Airstrip.

Source: Zen Boulden.


A few symbols have been added throughout the route to make it easy for readers to identify the facilities and activities each airport/area has at a quick glance.

Figure 2. Symbol Legend.


The Ozarks provide a stunning backdrop for a long vacation or some weekend getaway fun – your choice! We have developed a route that includes activities and airports for pilots and travelers of all ages and interests.

We have chosen nine different stops with two of the stops having multiple airports to choose from. We have included a mixture of community and backcountry airstrips, paved and non-paved runways, public and private airports… to ensure there is something for everybody based on pilot skills and experience and aircraft capabilities. Keep in mind some of the private airstrips may require prior permission from the owners. Fly at your own risk – you are Pilot in Command!

The following figures help give a visual of the entire route.

Figure 3. Route Overview.

Figure 4. First Half of the Route (see references to locations in Figure 6).

1st half of the route_final

Figure 5. Second Half of the Route (see references to locations in Figure 6).

2nd half of the route_final

Figure 6. References to Locations on Previous Sectionals.

Or, for easier reference, you can view the route in a screenshot of ForeFlight.

Figure 7. Route on ForeFlight.

ForeFlight screenshot_final

Source: ForeFlight.

You can start/stop this route from any airport and fly it in any order or direction you prefer.

Keep in mind some of these do not offer fuel. Please plan accordingly!

You may also want to pack a set of tie downs for your aircraft.

If you decide to do part or the entire route and use social media, we would love for you to use #OzarksAirTrail as a hashtag.

Fly safe, fly often! Enjoy the Air Trail!

Grand Lake, OK

Grand Lake has three wonderful airports (1K8, 3O9, and KGMJ) for you to choose from:

  • Grand Lake Regional (3O9) in Monkey Island: The Landings on Monkey Island community, as they call it, offers direct home access by land, water or air. This airport has not one, but two, on-site restaurants. Market and Grill is in the FBO alongside a convenience store, a gas station and a car wash. Aqua Bar & Grill is down in their marina, on the water. There, you can also rent a boat or jetski. Sangri La Resort offers championship golf and it’s only a mile away.

Grand Lake and the Neosho River are great places for you to obtain a seaplane rating or exercise it, if you already have one. Steve Robinson with Grand Seaplanes, LLC would be happy to offer some training in his Lake Amphibian. He normally operates between his house on the lake (where he ramps his aircraft), 1K8, and KGMJ.

Nearby Disney, OK is known among 4-wheelers. There is world class off-roading and “jeeping” below the Pensacola Dam. Hogan’s Off Road Park, as an example, is a campground that offers 25 miles of woods trails, a rock crawling area, as well as some deep mud pits and swimming holes.

The Grand Lake State Park has several smaller parks that are located near the Pensacola Dam and around the lake.

Looking for other things to do and see once there? Visit for plenty of options.

Bentonville, AR

Northwest Arkansas has quite a variety of airports to choose from but Bentonville Municipal Airport/Louise M Thaden Field (KVBT) really stands out as a friendly GA airport that is trying its best to offer everything any pilot could ask for. The City of Bentonville offers a courtesy car and the FBO, Summit Aviation, can offer you a bike to ride, shuttle you, or line up a car. Summit also offers backcountry flying and tailwheel training and instruction!

KVBT has an “outdoor pilots lounge” on the Northeast corner of the airport, just south of Lake Bentonville. Relaxing, fishing and picnicking are encouraged. Camping is also an option.

Figure 3. “Outdoor Pilots Lounge” at KVBT.

Source: Yasmina Platt.


Ozark, AR

Since 1982, Byrd’s Adventure Center at Byrd’s Backcountry Airstrip Airport (51AR) has been “the leading off-road and ATV park in Arkansas and one of the top canoe, kayak and raft rental services on the wild and scenic Mulberry River, surrounded by the Ozark National Forest.” It’s a great place to fish, hike, or just simply relax!

But, that’s not all. Byrd’s Adventure Center features two grass runways on 800 private acres. The primary 1,900’ 07/25 runway is suitable for many single-engine airplanes.  Landing to the west and departing to the east (conditions permitting) is recommended and pilots are encouraged to monitor 122.8. All pilots and aircraft are welcome; however, the Center does recommend some mountain flying experience (see above, under KVBT) as gusty conditions can create turbulence along the runway.  The secondary runway, 1,200’ 17/35, accommodates short field oriented aircraft and pilots.  With an electric line at the south end and a line of trees and a sharp elevation increase on the north end, creative approaches and departures are required.

If you are the camping type, bring your gear! Primitive camping is offered with access to a large heated shower house. If you’re not… no problem! Cabins are available as well. The Center also has a year-round store and a riverfront restaurant normally open, Friday, Sat & Sunday, from March to December. Byrd’s hosts fly-ins every spring and fall so you may want to time your trip with one of their fly-ins.

If you plan ahead and give them a call, they may also be able to arrange letting you use a courtesy car during your stay.

(Note: The airport ID was assigned for this airport in May/June of 2016 so it may not appear in all GPS databases yet. The coordinates are: latitude 35 40’ 37” N; longitude 93 43’ 59” W)

Berryville and Eureka Springs, AR

In 1930, the City of Eureka Springs purchased land for a landing strip. This is now the Carroll County Airport (4M1). Another airport, the Lake Lucerne Airport, was also built in 1930 but, unfortunately, it closed about 30 years later for housing. To learn more about Eureka Spring’s aviation history, visit

(Note: 4M1 is scheduled to close on June 13, 2016 for approximately 2 weeks to resurface the runway! Always check notams prior to departure!)

It’s only a 9 mile drive between 4M1 and Eureka Springs via a scenic but winding road (highway 62) that takes about 15-20 minutes to drive. In fact, they say that the roads to Eureka Springs are some of the best touring roads in the U.S. The airport has a half a dozen courtesy cars available for pilots and crews to use.

The historic town has plenty of cute shops, galleries, spas, restaurants, etc to explore. Looking for more things to do and see once there? Visit and for some more suggestions.

Looking for unique lodging options? Try a safari lodge or a tree house at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge or maybe a castle, cave or hobbit at Estree Houses.

Shell Knob, MO

7 Shell Knob

Hungry? The restaurant at the Turkey Mountain Airport (MO00) is a good place to stop in. They usually have a fly-in every month also. Note this grass strip is a private own, private use airport so you will need prior permission from the owner to fly in. FMI and to find the owner’s contact info, visit:

(Note: This restaurant is undergoing renovations as of June of 2016 and its reopening date is unknown!)

Branson, MO

8 Branson

While Branson has several different airports to choose from, M. Graham Clark Downtown Airport (KPLK) is the closest airport to town. It is also the airport a Southwest Airlines B737 crew confused for the Branson Airport (KBBG) back in 2014.

Branson’s 76 Country Boulevard is famously lined with theaters, which once hosted mostly country music performers but today present diverse entertainment. Also along the strip are Silver Dollar City, an 1800s-themed amusement park with live music, the landmark Marvel Cave, Dolly Parton’s Wild West-style Dixie Stampede dinner theater, and numerous shopping opportunities at area malls. New attractions in 2016 include the Branson Ferris Wheel and Fritz’s Adventure.

So, Branson is a good place to eat, visit a museum, enjoy an attraction, or take in a show: magic, rock ‘n’ roll, country, family harmonies, comedy, dinner shows, gospel… You name it, they have it!

Prefer to stay away from the hustle and bustle of town? You can also golf, hike, horseback ride, zip-line, or enjoy the many water activities at one of their three beautiful lakes: Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake, or Lake Taneycomo.

  • Table Rock Lake is a world-class spot for boating, fishing and swimming.
    • Table Rock State Park features a modern campground, a full-service marina, trails, picnic areas, etc.
    • The State Park Marina is a great place for lake activities, anything boating to scuba diving.
    • Want to try a different type of flying activity? You may want to try para-sailing or the newer fly boarding.
    • Just want to enjoy the lake and relax? Sure! You can even rent a houseboat.
  • Bull Shoals Lake offers a variety of activities including hiking, hunting, fishing, and water sports such as swimming and boating.
  • Lake Taneycomo has clear cold waters which provide some of the finest trout fishing available anywhere in the world!

The Missouri Division of Tourism’s website has a good website with more ideas.

Lakeview, AR

9 Lakeview

Gaston’s White River Resort is renowned as mid-America’s premier trout fishing destination, famous for its record rainbow and brown trout. Pilot Getaways’ Summer 2003 magazine couldn’t have said it better. “Known as one of the leading trout fishing resorts in the Ozarks, Gaston’s offers lodging, dining, and activities right next to your tie down on its 3,200-ft. grass strip. Rise at 7am for a misty morning guided float trip, or head out fly fishing on your own… a 20-foot Johnboat is included with your stay. You’ll also find tennis, swimming, and great hiking not far from your cabin. Gaston’s is a fisherman’s paradise any time of year.”

The airstrip (3M0) has a 06/24 runway with their own Bermuda grass and is open to everyone. They encourage everybody to use 122.8.

Their restaurant is normally open from around Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving weekend. You can try some of the freshest trout or go for a steak.

You can camp, if you want, but “enjoying the great outdoors at Gaston’s is by no means, roughing it.” They offer cottages and a lodge.

If you have never fly fished before or if you would like to improve your skills, they also offer classes with one of the most knowledgeable fly fishing guides on the White River.

The Bull Shoals-White River State Park is just 7 minutes away by car. The visitor/education center is named in honor of James (Jim) A. Gaston, owner of Gaston’s White River Resort. Its observation tower affords a sweeping view of the White River, Bull Shoals Dam, and Bull Shoals Lake. Interpretive exhibits are featured throughout the lobby, theater, gift ship and exhibit hall.

Lake of the Ozarks, MO

10 Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks is the No. 1 recreational lake, according to USA Today.

Lake of the Ozarks has three wonderful airports (KOZS, K15 and KAIZ) to choose from depending on what you are intending to do or where you are intending to go once there:

Lake of the Ozarks State Park, the largest in the state park system, contains natural areas ranging from rugged, wooded areas to delicate cave formations and more than 80 miles of lake frontage. In addition to hiking and backpacking trails, the park has three equestrian trails (guided rides are available from Hayburner Ranch) and two mountain biking trails. An aquatic self-guiding trail marked with buoys on the Grand Glaize Arm of the lake is designed for boaters interested in learning about features along the shoreline. On the south end of the park is Ozark Caverns, best known for a deposit called “Angel’s Shower,” a never ending shower of water that seems to come out of solid rock. With lantern in hand, visitors can view sleeping bats, bear claw marks and the speleological wonders as the first explorers did.

As a water-based park, the park also offers excellent opportunities for water recreation. Two free public swimming beaches include bathhouses and shady picnic areas nearby. Public Beach #1 also offers canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals.

Camping facilities, ranging from primitive to electric hookups, are available year-round and include modern restrooms, laundry facilities and dumping stations.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park has won numerous awards and contains castle ruins that attract people from all over the country. According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, “imposing architecture and breathtaking scenery combine to make Ha Ha Tonka State Park one of Missouri’s most treasured spots. Located on the Lake of the Ozarks, the park features the stone ruins of a turn-of-the-20th-century castle built by a prominent Kansas City businessman high atop a bluff. More than 15 miles of trails traverse the park, leading visitors to sinkholes, natural bridges, caves and down to the lake.”

If you have never been in a helicopter, the Lake of the Ozarks may be a good place to do it. Lake Ozarks Helicopters, Inc. offers six different routes around the lake during the warmer months of the year.

For more things to see or do while there, visit and

Miller, MO

14 Miller

Hungry? The Hangar Kafe at the Kingsley Airfield (MO9) is a great place to have a hamburger. MO9 is a flat grass strip right in between the Grand Lake Area and Lake of the Ozarks. They also have live music most Friday and Saturday nights during the summer months. FMI:

Like the thrill of skydiving? The Ozarks Skydive Center is based at MO9.

Have Additional Time?

You can explore Petit Jean (KMPJ), Plane Crazy USA at River Bend Aero Ranch just east of Mena, or Hot Springs (KHOT) in Central/Southern Arkansas on your way to/from the Ozarks.

Petit Jean, AR

15 Petit Jean

The Petit Jean State Park is Arkansas’ first state park. It is an “Arkansas icon, a state natural and historic treasure that has welcomed travelers over the decades.”

From Pilot Getaways’ March/April 2005 magazine: “Camping just steps from your airplane is a dream for many. Mix in great fishing and hiking, plenty of wildlife, and a spectacular night sky, and you might think you really are dreaming. But—pinch yourself—this is Petit Jean, one of Arkansas’ best-kept secrets.”

There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails in Arkansas that will lead you through Petit Jean’s natural and historic resources. Walk to the spectacular 95 foot Cedar Falls, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Arkansas, meander through ancient geology on the Seven Hollows Trail, or enter Rock House Cave and view ancient pictographs.

The Petit Jean State Park Airport (KMPJ) has five tent sites with electricity and water. But, if camping is “not your thing,” the Mather Lodge is a great place to stay with 24 guest rooms and several cabins. The lodge also has a restaurant.

Plane Crazy USA at River Bend Aero Ranch, AR

16 Plane Crazy USA

Located in Polk County, just nine miles east of Mena, this private airstrip provides a 3,300 ft. North/South grass landing strip in the Ouachita Mountains and on the banks of the Ouachita River, making it a very scenic and unique field from which to fly.

Spend a night or a week. They have hookups for RVs, plenty of space for tent camping, and a three bedroom and two bath cottage.

You can canoe, kayak or fish on the Ouachita River (they can provide a canoe and shuttle service), hike or bike on several trails, horseback ride on trails in the National Forest, visit the nearby Wolf Pen Gap ATV trails, take a drive on the Talimena Scenic Drive, visit the Queen Wilhelmina State Park, or stroll through Mean’s downtown and many shops. Restaurants are available in downtown Mena or just a mile down the road at the Cherry Hill Store.

Note this grass strip is a private own, private use airport so you will need prior permission from the owner to fly in. FMI and to find the owner’s contact info, visit:

Hot Springs, AR

17 Hot Springs

From Pilot Getaways’ Winter 2003/2004 magazine: “For centuries, a valley in the Arkansas Ouachitas mountains has been the focus of pilgrimages for “the cure” for life’s ailments. Even in this age of high-tech medicine, hot mineral waters from 47 unique thermal springs are sought out by folks who find magic here. If soaking in 4,000-year-old thermal water sounds good, file a flight plan to Hot Springs, Arkansas, otherwise known as Spa City. Hot Springs is a quaint and quirky Victorian town with a fascinating history that includes warriors, gamblers, mobsters, and a recent U.S. President.”

The Memorial Field Airport (KHOT) is the town’s airport and has a courtesy car for quick errands.


  • You can access the Hot Springs National Park from the middle of town. Hiking, picnicking, camping, and taking a bath in one of the bathhouses on Bathhouse Row is all available.
  • The Oaklawn has well-known horse races from January to April every year but they also offer Vegas-style games all year around.
  • You can get awesome views of the area from your aircraft; however, you can also go up to the 216-foot high Hot Springs Mountain Tower for a different perspective.
  • Magic Springs and Crystal Falls, Arkansas’ only amusement park
  • Hotels, resorts, bed & breakfasts, camping, cabins, houseboats… there are all kinds of lodging options.

For more information, visit


18 Other

In addition, the AOPA Central Southwest Regional Page covering NM, TX, LA, OK, AR, KS, MO, NE and IA has a blog on “friendly airports and helipads” with a list of those that have an on-site restaurant, an aviation museum, an aircraft viewing area, allow camping, etc that you may consider stopping at.

Looking for other fly-in destinations, air trails, air tours, or flyways in the region? Take a look at AOPA’s Central Southwest Destinations page.

Additional Sources and Information

The tourism offices of each of the three states have wonderful websites with plenty of additional tourism/things to see/things to do information:

In addition, the “Arkansas Wild” magazine published an article titled “Explore Ozark Backcountry Aviation” in their Fall 2015 edition, (pages 30 – 40).

Not sure how exactly you are going to get around once on the ground at some of these locations? Looking for ways to bring a bike or canoe with you? Ask the specific airport and take a look at this blog I recently published for some more ideas.

People and Organizations to Thank

Several people and organizations have contributed information to the creation of this Air Trail. Their knowledge, time, and efforts for the benefit of all pilots and passengers are highly appreciated. Special thanks to:

  • Chad Cox, Walton Family Foundation
  • Dave Powell, Owner, Summit Aviation at Bentonville Municipal Airport/Louise M Thaden Field (KVBT)
  • Chip Gibbons, Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer, Bentonville Municipal Airport/Louise M Thaden Field (KVBT)
  • James (Jim) Morris, Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer, Grand Glaize-Osage Beach Airport (K15)
  • Jere Brown, Airport Support Network (ASN) Volunteer, Camdenton Memorial-Lake Regional Airport (KOZS)
  • Airport managers and owners of all the airports listed

Ground Transportation Options for Pilots

“I’ve flown into an airport, now how do I get around on the ground?” Well, there are many options. Here are some that come to mind:

Courtesy Cars

Airport courtesy cars or airport crew cars are meant to be used for a short period of time, normally 2-3 hours. They are meant to be used for things like grabbing a quick bit to eat, picking up or dropping off something or somebody, or checking out a nearby store or museum quickly.

A pilot by the name of Glenn Brasch has compiled some of this information for us in the form of an app titled, appropriately so, “Airport Courtesy Cars.” It is available for free for both Apple and Android products in the iTunes or Google Play stores respectively.

The AOPA Airports resource can also help you determine if they have one or not. If they have one, it should appear under the “services at this airport” section of each individual airport listing as shown below:

Figure 1. Sample “courtesy car” listing on AOPA Airports.

Source: AOPA.

However, it is always a good idea to call the airport or FBO ahead of time to double check that they still have it and note that these are always “first come, first served” so, just because they have one available, does not mean it will be available right at the time you need it or expect it.

Rental Cars

This is always a great option. You can have a vehicle when you need it, for as long as you need it.

AOPA offers rental car discounts to its members and, in fact, you can even use our website to compare and book your next rental car.

Car Service

Every town seems to have at least one taxi or limo provider (even if it’s just one guy driving an old cop car). The airport/FBO can provide you with that information or a quick Google search may too.

In addition, newer options such as Uber, Lyft or Get Me may be available. The best way to know is to check their website or to download their app.

Public Transportation

Some city’s public transportation may reach their airport. Again, the airport manager or FBO may be best equipped to help you with this option.


It seems like more and more cities are catching on the “biking trend.” Some are investing in biking trails, some are working with bike rental providers (such as B-cycle to install biking stations, and others have courtesy bikes in addition to courtesy cars. I personally love this.

And, just like you may carry your own chair, table, tent, cooler, or grill in the aircraft, why not bring your own bike? Some aircraft make it easier to carry them than others. The canopy-type aircraft for example, such as Grummans, seem to make it easier because you have a bigger opening to get it through. If only two of you are traveling, you may also consider taking out the back seats. They occupy unnecessary space and add extra weight.

Figure 1. Bicycle in the back of a Grumman Cheetah.

Source: Yasmina Platt.

Some bikes are easier to carry than others, too. You may consider getting folding bikes for flying trips. A google search will show you several options. And some of the aviation suppliers also sell these.


Fishing at your destination? Floating down a river? Or maybe rafting? How about just simply taking a relaxing paddle around a lake? An inflatable canoe or kayak may be a good option for you to bring with you in the aircraft. My husband and I have two of them. They have proven handy for more reasons than just bringing them flying with us. They also occupy less space in the garage or closet. J

AOPA’s Pilot Gear Store

And, don’t forget that AOPA’s Pilot Gear store has some great gear options for many occasions: rainy days, cold days, beach days, hiking, picnicking, golfing, etc.

Oh, flying is so fun! and it also allows us to reach and enjoy some of our other hobbies, too.

Flight school flyouts: We’re outta here

If your flight school could shake up your training routine by offering you a chance to join other pilots on an organized fly-out, would you go? Most of us would love it. Getting out of the pattern, going places? Getting a taste of what it will be like when we can be pilots in command and go where we want? Where do we sign up?

Many flight schools try to organize these types of events—but they’re not easy to pull off. There’s the weather, availability of airplanes, flight instructors, and a host of other details to consider above and beyond the normal flight scheduling routine. So if your flight school offers you the chance to join a fly-out—whether it’s to the next airport for a pancake breakfast, or to Niagara Falls—don’t wait. Reserve an airplane, get a CFI if you need one, and go. I guarantee you’ll learn a lot and have a great time.

In 2002, as a low-time private pilot, I flew from Maryland to Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and back during a four-day fly-out organized by Frederick Flight Center. There were several student pilots in our group, and everybody gained a great deal of confidence (see “Destination: Experience,” March 2003 Flight Training).

When you read this I’ll be on my way to Florida with a group of airplanes and pilots out of Virginia. The 12 aircraft are leaving this wretched Mid-Atlantic winter behind, temporarily. But we’re not staying in Florida. We’re headed to the Bahamas, accompanied by Bob Hepp, owner of Aviation Adventures. (Aviation Adventures’ Conor Dancy is our 2013 Flight Instructor of the Year, and the school itself has won recognition for high-quality training at its Manassas, Leesburg, and Winchester locations. Some of the airplanes going on this fly-out are on the flight line at Aviation Adventures.)

This will be Aviation Adventures’ third fly-out to the Bahamas. The school also organizes trips to Oshkosh, Wis., for EAA AirVenture, and most recently shepherded a group on a frigid December morning to tour the Hudson River corridor in New York.

A student pilot can’t fly solo outside the United States, of course. He or she can fly accompanied by a certificated pilot who is qualified to act as PIC. But crossing the border in a small airplane is a great adventure and a personal goal for many pilots. And if you have any qualms about Customs procedures, the paperwork, the navigation, and/or the safety equipment needed, a group fly-out is a great way to give it a try. (If you want to get going on the research, see AOPA’s Bahamas resources page. We’ve got info for Alaska, Canada, and Mexico, too.)

I’ll share some of these considerations on the Flight Training blog as we travel, and you’ll see a complete write-up in a future issue of Flight Training magazine. In the meantime, you folks where it’s cold, try to stay warm, and I’ll do the same.—Jill W. Tallman

Are you interested in learning to fly? Sign up for a free student trial membership in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and receive six issues of Flight Training magazine plus lots of training tools and resouces for student pilots. Click here for more information.

Alaska calling

The June issue of Flight Training, going to press this week, Juneauis full of great content about the great state of Alaska. Pilots can’t get enough about Alaska (and can’t stop dreaming about going there, flying there, living there, or working there). Maybe it’s because general aviation is so entrenched in the state because there’s almost no other means of transportation for many communities. Maybe it’s the allure of the bush-pilot lifestyle, whatever that may be. Maybe it’s the endless possibilities of where you can land: water, snow, a glacier, gravel. I don’t know; you tell me what it is in the Comments section.

But anyway, as I was saying—Alaska! The photo you see is one I took from the left seat of a modified Cessna 150 in June 2008, somewhere near Juneau. I was midway through a weeklong cruise from Seattle, and I knew that the 12 hours our cruise ship was docked at Juneau was the only window I’d have to do some affordable flying. (Much as I wanted to do a glacier flight, that wasn’t in the budget. But if you can afford one, do it and tell me how it went.)  So I went on the Internet, found a flight instructor, called him from Maryland, and scheduled some dual. Two weeks later, he picked me up in downtown Juneau, drove me to the airport, and I had the most memorable 1.3 hours of flying of my life at that point.

The scenery was spectacular. The flight instructor pointed out several little sand bars and gravel strips. We overflew a 1,900-foot gravel strip that from 200 feet looked like a dirt path made by a couple of four-wheelers. For $168, I considered my flight a bargain.

Editor Ian J. Twombly has fond memories of Alaska, too. It’s where he got his seaplane rating–an experience he describes in this 2005 article (see the sidebar, but read all of Katie Writer’s discussion of what’s involved in becoming a bush pilot).

Do you have Alaska dreams? Better yet, do you have Alaska memories? If so, share them in the Comments section. The June issue of Flight Training starts shipping to homes on April 4; digital subscribers will see it a on March 28.—Jill W. Tallman


A holiday flight

Back in December, we asked chat participants what was on their Christmas wish lists. There was a prize at stake—a free eBook.

Chatters wished for more money to fly with, more time to fly with, a handheld nav/comm, and just plain more flight time (40 hours, to be exact, so that the chatter could complete an instrument rating). The wish that got us was David Kincade’s. He asked for 10 hours’ block time at his FBO. To finish up a rating? No. Turns out he wanted to fly his wife to her parents’ home for the Christmas holiday.

David won the eBook—and what’s more, he actually made the trip. He posted a photo on our Facebook page with a note:

“Hey Ian and Jill; thanks again for the book I won in December’s chat. I did get some flight time for Christmas, and did indeed use it to take me wife from St. Louis (KSET) to Branson West (KFWB) to visit with her parents. I even got to take her mother for a sightseeing flight around Table Rock Lake. We had a blast, discovered some fun airports, and met some great people along the way.
Just Southeast of Springfield, MO, there are some giant TV towers, 2000agl, photo enclosed.
This flying thing is kinda fun.”

Thanks for checking in and letting us know, David! And yeah, no argument there—this flying thing is kinda fun.—Jill W. Tallman

Our next Flight Training Facebook chat will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, January 8. The topic is paying for flight training with guest chatter Brittney Miculka. Go here to set up an email reminder, or just join us at the chat! 

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