Each month we highlight an airstrip with hopes that you will get out and enjoy these special places. This month’s Featured Airstrip is Grapevine, Arizona.

Years ago, the Arizona Pilots Association recognized the value of Grapevine, an abandoned asphalt airstrip on the Tonto National Forest within the Sonoran Desert near Roosevelt Lake. “Sadly, this incredible airstrip was in ruins,” RAF Arizona Liaison Mark Spencer said. “Thanks to willing hands and open wallets of members of the Arizona Pilots Association, 99s, RAF, and cooperation by the US Forest Service, Grapevine was re-opened. Hundreds of volunteers gave their time, money, sweat and even blood to restore the airport to a safe condition,”  Spencer added.

Thanks to a Master Challenge Cost Share Agreement between the Forest Service, Arizona Pilots Association, and the RAF, coordinated by Spencer, the entities invested $30,000 worth of work. Grapevine was reopened in 2012, with resealing recently completed in fall of 2022.

Since its reopening, Grapevine, 88AZ has become very popular with recreational flyers from the Phoenix area and central Arizona who seek backcountry camping experience yet prefer a paved runway. The APA and RAF makes available shade canopies, picnic tables, a fire ring with cooking grate and pit toilets seasonally. APA organizes fly-in potlucks and campouts nearly each third Saturday from September to April. Check APA’s website for event and important access information. As one of very few asphalt airstrips on Forest Service lands, it is used by National Guard helicopters, Air Force Search and Rescue training, and has been a critical part of fire operations, Spencer points out.

For information on Grapevine and a link to its Arizona Pilots Association Safety Briefing, see the Airfield Guide.

Submitted on January 30, 2023.

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