Volunteers continue making improvements at the USFS airstrip at Sacaton, New Mexico, NM16 as part of the Challenge Cost Share agreement with the US Forest Service. Organized by RAF New Mexico Liaison Ron Keller, RAF and New Mexico Pilots Association volunteers poured the concrete pad for the vault toilet recently, in spite of weather that had prevented a few helpers from making the journey.

“A couple of us need to go back in two weeks to finish,” Keller said. Now that the vault toilet is installed, Keller estimates that 20-40 yards of fill dirt will be needed at the site to replace what was used to level the stoop area, and to prevent eventual washout. The crew will install what’s called a VanHorn Roll, designed to minimize erosion between the concrete pad and the dirt or gravel pedestrian approach. The design is named for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest recreation technician who invented the concept, and is now commonly used throughout Forest Service public camping facilities to preserve ADA access. 

Keller points out that Sacaton offers direct access into the Gila Wilderness. “Pilots who visit have the option of just camping and stargazing, or going for a day hike,” he said. “For the ultra adventurous, an experienced backpacker can hike miles into the Wilderness, and do some fishing. Rain Creek Trail, just northeast of the airstrip is rated moderate to difficult, and is popular for its spectacular scenery,” he added.

Anyone wishing to fly in to Sacaton needs to contact USFS Gila Dispatch center, 800-538-1644 for permission to land.

Find more information in the Airfield Guide, including a link to the NMPA’s Sacaton safety briefing.

Submitted on April 29, 2024.
By Carmine Mowbray

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