The RAF is pleased to announce the preservation of Las Trancas airstrip, (17CL) located on the Pacific Ocean north of Monterey Bay. This beautiful airstrip provides pilots an opportunity to enjoy spectacular coastal scenery and easy beach access for recreational opportunities. The RAF signed a lease with the airstrip owners, Big Creek Timber Co., to ensure ongoing maintenance and preservation for public use.

Bud McCrary created the strip from which to fly his 1964 Skylane. During summer evenings, Bud flew over the Santa Cruz Mountains checking for forest fire smoke. The California Forestry Association memorialized Mr. McCrary as a giant in the forestry sector, a “pioneer of sustainable forestry, a champion of community trails, and inventor of mechanical solutions.”

Bud McCrary

Bud invented his own VASI at the short airstrip to make it safer for him to land. With Bud’s passing and the airstrip seeing less use over recent years the question was what would become of the airstrip. The RAF along with dedicated local pilots started a conversation with the McCrary family to preserve the airstrip and Bud’s legacy.

“As a respected national organization with a track record of preserving airstrips across the country, the RAF built a relationship with the owners. They appreciated our intention to preserve the airstrip and be good stewards of the property,” said RAF Director Tim Riley.

Led by local RAF volunteers Jeremy Lezin and Barry Porter, the airstrip has already been improved. Encroaching vegetation has been removed, the 900-foot strip has been graded, and a picnic table, barbecue grill and portable toilet have been installed. Camping is permitted on the field.

“It’s hard to put into words how beautiful this location is…stunning and magnificent come to mind as you exit the plane and look out across the expanse of the Pacific,” said RAF President Bill McGlynn. “We can’t thank the McCrary family enough for this personal commitment to preserving this airfield and its history for the future.”

The RAF recently celebrated its new relationship with the McCrary family and the revitalization of the airstrip at a lunch on the field. Family members and pilots shared memories of Bud. His 93-year-old brother Lud recounted the time that he spotted a wounded fisherman in distress from his office window. They radioed for help and Bud flew his Skylane off the strip to direct the Coast Guard to the fisherman and his life was saved.

Riley noted that “anything that flies is welcome to use the strip.” Over the years, it has been used by hang gliders, Army Blackhawk helicopters, air ambulances, search and rescue aircraft, and those practicing short field techniques. He also noted the prevalence of strong crosswinds. A safety briefing is required prior to use.

More information and the required safety briefing is available on the Airfield Guide.

A history of Big Creek Lumber is here: https://bigcreeklumber.com/past-and-present/

The Recreational Aviation Foundation was founded in 2003. Headquartered in Bozeman, Montana, it has nationwide membership and support. The RAF preserves, improves, and creates airstrips for recreational access. See www.theRAF.org.


  1. Don Arnold on November 1, 2021 at 6:48 am

    The north end of the strip ends in a NW facing cliff with strong ridge lift. When soaring hang gliders in the late 70’s we would slowly go north up the ridge and then turn south and rocket back. But look first, to see if Bud was about to launch another moonshot. That Cessna would hit the ridge lift and go right on up. We tied bits of yellow rag in the upper rigging so Bud would know we were locals.

  2. Jay PerryCook on November 1, 2021 at 7:05 am

    I’m so pleased to see the RAF’s efforts in saving this strip. As a resident of Santa Cruz for 15 years and the birthplace of my love for aviation, this strip was the seed to short field technique for me and many other local pilots that opened the door to other strips like it. Thanks to the McCrary Family for their generosity and interests in preserving Bud’s legacy.

  3. Matt Freeman on November 1, 2021 at 8:06 am

    I recall many decades ago while a customer of Bud, he generously gave me permission to use the airfield. His briefing for landing my Cessna 172 included wind shear on final that can be quite wicked during strong winds, sequencing landings during hang glider operations, and especially useful and challenging were his “VASI” for night landings. Thank you to all for preserving this gem!

  4. Jim Taylor on November 1, 2021 at 8:36 am

    RAF continues to do outstanding work, not just for the aviation for the communities the airports are in. Thanks to all who participate.

    • Raymond Aalgaard on November 1, 2021 at 10:32 am

      Awesome been going into there for over 30yrs it was the late Vern Miller took me in there when I was a green Cessna 180 TW Pilot one year another pilot told me Xs on the field called Bud asked what’s with the Xs replied didn’t pertain too me when you come in give call love come down BS with you I always did 5 miles out answering machine lol he never showed Thank You RAF Buds Family for preserving this strip!

  5. Alex on November 1, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Awesome! We will definitely be checking this out as soon as possible. I love flying the highway 1 corridor and even more – I love airplane camping at backcountry strips. Thank you RAF and all that you do! What a great way to preserve these special opportunities for pilots and remember Bud!

  6. Mark Cannon on November 1, 2021 at 11:09 am

    This is wonderful. Next time I fly up to see my daughter we will check Las Trancas out. I remember flying over it about a year ago and thinking that it would be a great place to fly in to and have a picnic. Another great thanks to the RAF and of course Mr. McCrary.

  7. Fred Williams on November 1, 2021 at 11:14 am

    Thanks to all in making this airstrip available for recreational use. My wife and I are very anxious to fly in and enjoy this beautiful spot.

  8. Rick H on November 1, 2021 at 11:18 am

    There is one YouTube video featuring a landing and takeoff at this strip. Check it out.

  9. Byron Piro on November 1, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    Flew my back country 182 back down to the KTRM Saturday. Look forward to flying to this
    New little RAF jewel. Thanks for all that made this happen. What a great organization.
    Way to go RAF!!

  10. JT on November 2, 2021 at 3:13 pm

    Love this! Such a special site. Thank you to all those involved in maintaining it and allowing us hang gliders to fly there.

  11. Raymond Aalgaard on November 13, 2021 at 11:32 am

    Wish didn’t put sand on strip left hard pan was there yesterday

    • Raymond Aalgaard on November 29, 2021 at 10:08 am

      Take back about sand went again with 2 other C180 pilots surface of strip getting packed down very nicely

  12. Jeff Robertson on November 23, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    Visited today for first time. Possibly the most beautiful little airstrip anywhere. (emphasis on LITTLE) Nice surface packed gravel and dirt. Excellent briefing material fails to mention that Porta Potty combo is CTAF freq. Rotor on south end of runway is no joke – approach steep and slow with hair trigger on throttle for power. There is a Pilot Logbook in the mail box, mine was the first entry; come on guys, log your visits. Ive just doubled my donation to RAF.

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