The RAF is primarily volunteer-driven, meaning your donations go directly toward on-the-ground projects that further the RAF mission to preserve, maintain, and create airstrips for recreational access.

Volunteer RAF state liaisons identify projects, then apply for RAF funds. A grants committee – made up of State Liaisons, RAF members and an RAF Director – then reviews the application. Typically, the liaison must also organize volunteers to help with the labor required. Often, they call in others who are willing to donate or provide equipment and building supplies at no cost, or at reduced prices. 

Here is a summary of recent grants awarded:

Wisconsin: RAF Liaison Jeff Russell will oversee improvements at Cornucopia Airport (WI23). The project includes construction of a pilot shelter, adding picnic tables, tie downs and bicycles. Jeff worked with the airport manager and local businesses to foster support for investing time and money to make the airport more inviting. “This airstrip has high recreational value due to its proximity to Lake Superior and the Apostle Island National Lakeshore,” Jeff said.

Minnesota: RAF Liaison Kurt Pennuto  was awarded a grant to improve Bowstring Airport (9Y0). He will complete two campsites, picnic tables, fire rings and an outhouse. From each campsite, campers will be able to access the Chippewa National Forest, area lakes, trails and hunting opportunities. The airport commission has committed to maintaining the campsites and outhouse.

New Hampshire: Liaison John Meade  has taken Parlin Airfield (2B3) under his wing for preservation and improvements, adding picnic tables, and solar chargers. Its amenities include camping and access to local Sugar Hill Recreation Trails with use of mountain bicycles at no cost. John emphasizes that local personnel do much of the work “which increases broad community commitment and teamwork, while insuring lower operating costs for the town.  Parlin has become a regional fly-in destination,” he added. 

Colorado: Liaison Tom Haefeli  says the cornerstone of his pilot shelter project at Ken Rominger airport (KRCV) will be the new shower and kitchen area. “This will allow airplane campers, mountain bikers, and pilots a place to refuel, refresh and continue great airplane adventures,” he said. The airport is three miles north of Del Norte, central to many Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico airstrips. “This shelter will also be a great resource for cross country travelers as well,” he added. Rio Grande County is a key partner for the project.

VermontBob Burley is fond of Allenholm Airport (VT26), and wants to preserve it from possible closure and improve it with funding for mowing and added improvements. Maybe the regionally famous Allenholm Farms pies, pastries, cookies available at the airfield is one reason! This historic 2,400-ft field is located in an apple orchard on an island in Lake Champlain. Within one mile of the airfield is a state park with beaches and watercraft rentals, several B&Bs, and a quaint Vermont village.  All within a half- or hour-long flight are scenic mountains and islands, a four- star, 150-year-old lakeside resort, golf course and grass strip. “Allenholm is ideal for both hub and spoke day trips and peaceful respite,” Bob said. Vermont Air National Guard pilots are committed to helping out at Parlin.

Florida: What started out in 2013 as efforts to reopen abandoned Blackwater Airfield (8FD3), has developed into ongoing cooperation to improve this popular recreational destination. RAF Florida Liaison Bobby Capozzi continues to work with Florida Sport Aviation Antique and Classic Association (FSAACA) by adding barbecue grills, and refinishing picnic tables. “These efforts show continued engagement and commitment to foster a positive relationship with the State Forestry Service in preserving and maintaining this recreational airfield,” Bobby said.  “Not only was the project approved by State Forestry Manager David Creamer, he was willing to assist with installing the grills,” Bobby added.

Bobby also erected a sign acknowledging participants. “The sign is an investment in advertising for all who worked so hard to get Blackwater open to GA,” Bobby said.

Oregon: RAF Oregon Liaison Richard Mayes has a less tangible need. He was invited to join the Hells Canyon Recreation Collaborative (HCRC) whose mission is to maintain and improve recreation access into the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area by making recommendations to the US Forest Service. “RAF representation on the HCRC will help protect and maintain public access to the Hells Canyon airstrips, and foster positive collaboration with other river users,” Richard said.

The area encompasses 652,488 acres of rugged backcountry between northeastern Oregon and western Idaho.  There are no roads across Hells Canyon’s 10-mile wide expanse. Six backcountry airstrips deep in the canyon along the Snake River are open for public use.  Administration of HCRC is funded by contributions from key participant organizations. Richard works entirely at his own expense, but the largest HCRC administrative cost is the salary of the part-time facilitator. Idaho Aviation Association pledged support, and Richard requested a like amount.

Submitted on May 30, 2019

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