A June 2023 RAF grant to improve privately-owned Henderson Field, 95IL near Golconda Illinois, included a new RAF windsock, an RAF fire ring, and treating and smoothing the turf runway with a vibrating roller. This was partially matched with in-kind donations and volunteer labor. “Thanks to terrific weather and help from visiting pilots David Butler and Chris Erkmann, everything was accomplished,” RAF Illinois Ambassador Dave Warner reported. “It’s a big improvement already, but another rolling should really make a difference,” he added.

In addition, trees and brush were cleared from along the runway and the approach to Runway 03. “There’s always more to be done, but the field is much more inviting,” he said, and pointed out that the resulting supply of firewood at the campsite is probably sufficient for a couple of years. The owners acquired a new mower to do a better job of mowing the runway, and are generous in allowing public access.

Joining Warner and his wife Ann to accomplish the work were Henderson airfield owners John (Herbie) and Cindy Henderson, Cliff Hisey, Dave Butler, and Chris Erkmann. “A full moon, evening meals together, swimming from the pontoon raft, and serenades from owls and coyotes added to the experience,” Warner said. The airfield is 2,410 feet long, and Hendersons kindly allow camping, hiking and access to a 4-wheeler. Water and toilet are available in the shop building. Visitors may fish and swim, and use the canoe, kayak or John boat available to enjoy the on-site lake.

You are invited to take advantage of this quiet spot in one of the dark sky areas of Illinois, by joining the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois for its stargazing party at Henderson Field on October 21. “Planning is underway for a fly-in to experience some of the surprises hiding in Southern Illinois, as well the marvels of deep space,” Warner added. Camping is welcomed, and as an alternative, there are Air B&Bs nearby. If interested in details regarding the stargazing weekend, contact Warner at dwarner@theraf.org.

Find more about Henderson Field and the required safety briefing in the Airfield Guide.

Submitted September 15, 2023
Written by Carmine Mowbray

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