2021: An RAF Year in Review
Barrows Field, VA
March - RAF Virginia State Liaison Alan White was awarded an RAF grant to make Barrows Field more of a recreational destination with amenities.
Volunteers developed a camping area, blazed a hiking trail, installed an RAF fire ring, and assembled a picnic table. The group installed signs pointing out the campground and trails. For the finishing touch, an official RAF windsock was installed.
Red's Horse Ranch, OR
April - RAF Oregon State Liaison Richard Mayes was awarded an RAF grant to assist as needed with airfield maintenance at Red’s Wallowa Horse Ranch airstrip, (68D) in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area of Oregon.
When the old mower needed to be replaced, RAF Oregon Ambassador Bill Ables planned the effort to acquire a new mower, which was ultimately paid for by USFS Region 6 funding. The airstrip was mowed, thanks to collaboration between the USFS, the Wallowa County Pilots Association, the RAF, and Oregon Pilots Association volunteers.
McKenzie Bridge, OR
April - RAF Oregon State Liaison Richard Mayes was awarded an RAF grant to mow and undertake improvements to McKenzie Bridge Airport, in the Central Oregon Cascades.
Using the grant funds, volunteers rented a tractor and mower to mow the airfield and used string trimmers to clear the tie-downs. The airport lies within the Willamette National Forest, and the USFS assisted with funding to provide additional improvements. A new picnic table and RAF fire ring supplied by the USFS were assembled and installed by volunteers.
Two Hearted, MI
June - The RAF approved a grant for Two Hearted airstrip in MI to allow for major runway improvements. Spurred by the grant and a substantial matching donation from RAF supporter Jeff Littmann, a large volunteer effort took place in October. RAF volunteers donated time, equipment, and energy.
The crew hauled equipment 3½ hours to the airstrip including a large bucket loader, road grader, skid loader, roller/compactor, and straw chopper. In total about 800 feet of runway was smoothed and topsoil was replaced, tilled, seeded, mulched, and compacted.
Marcy Field, NY
June - RAF New York Liaison Doug Turnbull was awarded a second RAF grant to enhance safety at Marcy Field, near Keene, NY in the Adirondack Mountains. Locals had expressed concern about the potential for planes hitting cars or pedestrians on the runway. In conjunction with the Town of Keene, signs were posted along the runway to protect users.
In 2020, an RAF grant was used to remove encroaching trees and brush at Marcy. The Town of Keene provided equipment and manpower, and Adirondack Aviators volunteers helped accomplish the work.
July - The RAF awarded a grant to reclaim and enhance safety at Norridgewock, ME. The RAF grant provided equipment usage and fuel, and seven volunteers provided labor, including volunteers from Maine Fish and Wildlife, and Morgan Aviation. RAF Maine Liaison Steve Mason reported that it was a successful improvement project.
October - RAF Florida Liaison Bobby Capozzi was awarded an RAF grant for continued maintenance at Blackwater airfield near Munson, Florida. This grant will go toward needed maintenance such as picnic table treatment, pressure washing the fire ring seats, sanding and repainting barbecue grills, painting the marker tires, and tending the airfield, including the installation of a new RAF windsock. As is typical, volunteers will provide all the labor.
January - Work at Grapevine airstrip started early and continued throughout the year. Volunteers improved drainage and safety at the strip by spreading and compacting 400 tons of material. The $10,000 worth of material was purchased through USFS funds, made possible by the RAF’s Master Challenge Cost Share agreement with the USFS. Arizona Pilots Association and the RAF provided volunteer labor of par value.
April - RAF Director Jeff Russell and Wisconsin State Liaison Trever Otto, along with a crew of dedicated volunteers made improvements to the airstrip and pilot shelter at Cornucopia airstrip. In the pilot shelter they installed flooring, put in electrical wiring, and finished the interior walls. Improvements to the runway included removing brush from the side of the runway and clearing trees.
Trigger Gap, AR
May - September - 40 volunteers from the RAF, the Tailwind Aviation Foundation, and local Fly Oz friends gathered throughout the year to construct a pilot pavilion at Trigger Gap. Work included screwing 16-inch screws into massive beams, digging trenches, installing wiring and lighting, building a shower tent, spreading grass seed, replacing windsock frames, splitting firewood, and building chairs.
The RAF thanks all who contributed their time or monetary donations toward this project, and values its relationship with Fly Oz and The Nature Conservancy.
Richland Creek, AR
May - Throughout the Trigger Gap work party, volunteers took on projects at Richland Creek airfield in Arkansas. They constructed a composting toilet and erected a gazebo with wood cut by the same MT Amish supplier who provided timbers for the Trigger Gap pavilion and the Ryan Barn.
Spotted Bear, MT
May - Volunteers representing the RAF, Montana Pilots Association, and Montana Aeronautics worked to help maintain Spotted Bear Forest Service airstrip in Montana. The group completed realigning the runway cones, replacing windsocks, and repairing the windsock standards. They cleaned and painted the outhouse and the concrete runway end "T". They also installed a new roof on a storage shed.
May - Volunteers from the RAF and the New Mexico Pilots Association met at Me-Own Airstrip, which is close to the Gila Wilderness Area in New Mexico, to complete maintenance. RAF New Mexico Liaison Ron Keller reported that the group cleared encroaching trees and rebuilt the segmented circle to include traffic arms.
Ryan Field MT
June & September - Volunteers spent many hours throughout the year working on improvements at Ryan Field in Montana. Jobs included fencing, cutting trees that threatened a power line, cutting and stacking firewood, and replacing the windsock. Work on and around the Ryan Barn continued, as volunteers sealed the concrete floor, installed light fixtures and plumbing, tiled the bathrooms, and added snow breaks to the roof. An irrigation system was also added near the barn.
July - Town Meeting members authorized funding to replace a dilapidated World War II hangar at Katama airfield in Massachusetts for local groups to engage in aviation projects year-round. When funding was short to heat the new hangar, RAF New Hampshire State Liaison John Meade, who owns a business that specializes in heating large buildings, donated the engineering on behalf of the RAF, and sold the needed equipment to the Trust at trade cost.
North Fox Island, MI
July - RAF Michigan Liaison Brad Frederick reported that improvements to North Fox Island in Michigan were made with the help of many volunteers. Despite bad weather, volunteers completed general maintenance and improvements, including mowing the airstrip, cutting brush, clearing trails, and splitting and stacking firewood,
Ingalls Field, VA
August - RAF Virginia State Liaison Alan White and Virginia Ambassador Jeremy Vaughan organized a group to clear the trails at Ingalls Field, one of the highest elevation airports east of the Mississippi River. Due to heavy preparation, the group was able to do even more work on the trails than they had planned. The trails were cleared to allow for easy access to a scenic outlook that people can enjoy, reinvigorating the airport.
Toketee Airfield, OR
August - Thanks to the efforts of RAF Oregon Ambassador Bill Ables, the USFS directed a portion of this year’s federally allocated funds to initiate improvements at Toketee State Airport in Oregon. Several volunteers from the RAF and Oregon Pilots Association worked to clean up the camping area and install a new picnic table and RAF fire ring. In addition, RAF supporter Pete Gauthier constructed and donated a beautiful timber picnic table.
September - A crew of RAF volunteers helped improve the camping area at Waterbury-Plymouth airfield in Connecticut. They constructed two elevated 10x10-ft tent platforms and placed a fire pit between them, and stacked firewood. The lumber was provided at a discount and screws were donated by Chapman Lumber; local pilots also pitched in to help with financial donations to complete the project.
Las Trancas, CA
October - The RAF is pleased to announce the preservation of Las Trancas airstrip, located on the Pacific Ocean north of Monterey Bay. The RAF signed a lease with the airstrip owners, Big Creek Timber Co., to ensure ongoing maintenance and preservation for public use. Improvements made to the airstrip include removing encroaching vegetation, grading the 900-foot strip, and installing a picnic table, barbecue grill and portable toilet.
Creighton Island, GA
November - RAF Georgia Ambassador Eric Davis was joined by RAF Georgia Liaison Kevin Barry and Ambassador Lou Furlong for a work party at Creighton Island, a privately-owned coastal island airfield.
The team mowed the runway and parking areas of palm and pine saplings, making space for additional aircraft. They cleared the understory near the bunkhouses and beat back saplings that had grown back since their work last year.
USFS Renews Agreement with RAF
January - RAF Chairman John McKenna and US Forest Service Recreational Director Michiko Martin co-signed a five-year renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding between the USFS and the RAF.
“The RAF has worked consistently for the last eighteen years to build a good working relationship with the Forest Service at the district, regional, and national level,” RAF Idaho Liaison Tim Riley said. The document establishes aviation within USFS Planning Directives as one of the three legs of the National Forest Transportation System on 155 national forests, twenty national grasslands, and seven national monuments.
RAF Meets with AOPA State Advocacy Team
February - Mike Ginter, Vice President of AOPA’s Airports and State Advocacy anchored an RAF “Fire Hub Chat” session with State Liaisons, Ambassadors, and the RAF Board to discuss preserving aviation access and improving safety.
Hartzell Announces RAF Partnership, Propeller Discount
April - Hartzell Propeller reached an agreement with the RAF to offer a special $1,000 discount on all new Hartzell backcountry propellers sold to RAF supporters through the end of 2022.
“The RAF has prevented the closure of a number of airstrips and even built new ones. We are excited to be a part of the legacy established by these dedicated pilots,” said Hartzell Propeller President JJ Frigge.
RAF Advocates at EAA AirVenture
July - RAF Director Jeff Russell, RAF Indiana Liaison Bill Steinmetz, and RAF Arkansas Liaison Dave Powell gave a presentation, "Preserving Backcountry Airstrips" to a receptive audience at AirVenture this year.
RAF volunteers headquartered daily at the Hartzell booth, thanks to our welcoming friends there. Additionally, key RAF volunteers and supporters spread throughout the event grounds and camping area to share the mission.
Texas Riverbeds Reopened for Aviation Use
September - Thanks in part to RAF Texas Liaison Tres Clinton’s efforts, Representative John Cyrier and Senator Charles Perry were able to pass HB 4436 in June, allowing the operation of an aircraft in or on a protected freshwater area in spite of pushback from local landowners. “After working with Texas Parks and Wildlife and successfully passing the bill, Texas riverbeds are open again for recreational aviation,” Miller announced.
Campaign to Save Tongass Cabins Continues
October - RAF Southeast Alaska Liaison Jeff DeFreest has motivated volunteers to help preserve some of the 140 US Forest Service cabins in the vast Tongass National Forest. Some are in jeopardy of closure due to perceived lack of use. “RAF volunteers delivered our USFS-approved RAF informational letters to seventeen of these fly-in cabins,” DeFreest reports. He also provided the letter to Ward Air, Admiralty Air Service, and Alaska Seaplanes, Part 135 operators that offer transport for visitors to the USFS cabins.
RAF Supports FAA Private Use Airport Updating
October - The FAA is continuing their effort to update its database of Private Use airports, according to RAF Director Jeff Russell. “We want to make RAF supporters aware of the FAA’s January 20 deadline and encourage owners to update their airport data in time,” Russell emphasized.
“We are publicizing this current round of data gathering, urging owners to update their data,” Russell said, adding, “If they need help, their RAF State Liaison may be able to assist."
RAF Signs New Mexico Airstrip Network Renewal
November - The RAF was invited to be the first of 13 parties to sign the New Mexico Airstrip Network Memorandum of Understanding renewal. The document’s purpose is to extend collaborative efforts and build on the established framework for cooperation for preserving and enhancing airstrip access, promoting aviation, and the development, management, and operation of public and privately owned airstrips in New Mexico.
The RAF thanks its many donors and volunteers for their contributions throughout the year who helped further the RAF mission of preserving, improving, and creating airstrips for recreational access.