Trigger Gap Airfield, 17A was built in 2016 on Arkansas’ Pension Mountain through the generosity of The Nature Conservancy, and volunteers and funding from the RAF and Fly Oz, as well as The Walton Foundation.

Lying in a large clearing, there is little shade. RAF Arkansas Liaisons Dave Powell and Harper Goodwin and their wives Julie and Diane have spent a good bit of time working on improvements there, and began taking action to create more shade. “Our long term plan is to let selected volunteer pine trees grow here and there. However, when campers take shelter in the shadow of the pavilion chimney, one starts thinking of a solution,” Goodwin said. He visited nurseries, talked to The Nature Conservancy people and local area ranchers. He met Michael Bays of Instashade who specializes in transporting and planting large trees. They are sourcing trees from what Goodwin calls, “a tree farm that finds itself in the path of urban sprawl. It’s only a matter of time until these trees are replaced by a sea of grey rooftops.” Bays is transplanting these trees at what Goodwin considers a very fair price, funded by a Walton Family Foundation grant. 

Plans to accomplish the transplanting in 2022 were delayed, so the crew started looking at late fall 2023 but rains prevented Bays from accessing the tree farm with his trucks. In February, Harper was able to select seven Nuttall Oaks, “substantial trees that will provide beauty and shade for a hundred years,” he announced.

A massive spade accomplished the transplanting over four days. “The distance and hard ground took its toll and a mini excavator had to be rented to complete three of the holes,” Goodwin said.

Next came the obligation to water the trees, about 100 gallons of water each every week now, and throughout summer. “So now I have a 150 gallon collapsable water bag in the back of my pickup,” Goodwin said. He fills it from their well at home, then tops it off a couple of times at a local rancher’s home near the airfield. 

Always managing maintenance, these volunteers will host a work party to stake the trees, remove rocks, smooth soil, and assemble picnic tables. “Dave and myself are very proud of what has been accomplished here at Trigger Gap,” Goodwin says. “It would not have been possible without the help of The Nature Conservancy, The Walton Foundation, the RAF, Fly OZ and their dedicated volunteers. Come fly in and enjoy the view and now the ever-increasing shade!”

Submitted March 4, 2024
by Carmine Mowbray


  1. Joe Wilson on March 15, 2024 at 3:44 pm

    Beautiful tree! Great project Dave & Harper!!!

  2. Darrell Morgan on March 15, 2024 at 7:24 pm

    Harper and Dave please never hesitate to ask for assistance in the maintenance of Trigger Gap.
    I’m always ready to lend a hand. 1 day, 1 week, 1 month , whatever it takes.
    Darrell Morgan

  3. Dave Williams on March 16, 2024 at 12:22 pm

    I appreciate all of the hard work the RAF volunteers have done to make these airstrips great destinations!
    I am located just north of Trigger Gap at Turkey Mountain (MO00) and would like to help anytime you need it.

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