Our many RAF supporters have such vast and varied experience, and we’re capturing some of their words of wisdom to share with you. This month’s guest editorial is by Roy Evans II, the President of Utah Back Country Pilots Association.

Throughout my journey in aviation, I’ve been guided by many mentors. In my adolescence, I found myself taxiing across a spacious apron following the tire tracks of countless flight students like me. Immediately my instructor slammed the brakes, turned towards me in the tight confines of that Cessna 152 and asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I quickly replied, “I want to be a professional pilot.” Twice as fast as I had replied, my instructor said, “Then start right now and get on the yellow line.”

The benefits of an active, engaging mentor/mentee relationship are often overlooked. Our modern, connected lives rarely find time for the peace and solace many of us find while flying and enjoying the backcountry.

In the state of Utah, we are the benefactors of the exemplary stewardship of recreational aviators who enjoy our historic, unparalleled backcountry. When two members of the Utah Back Country Pilots Association were out enjoying a fair weather day and landed at an airstrip they were met by park rangers. When questioned about pilots’ rights in landing at this airstrip, their true professionalism shone. What transpired over those tense moments for these two became the foundation that our organization has been striving for. Their innate stewardship for aviation’s access to our public lands made the impossible happen. Utah’s first airstrip located in a state park, Temple Mountain, once on the chopping block of existence, now thrives as an airstrip with access to Goblin Valley State Park. 

Etiquette and customs traverse generations — not in books or signs — but in actions. Each time we roll our tires in the backcountry, our impacts on the future of recreational aviation are felt across the world. Learning more about how we can turn our errant marks into positive impressions lies in our individual efforts to engage with those who’ve made this all possible, and the organizations that perpetuate those impressions to the impressionable. Whether it be your membership dues, your participation in work parties and public comment periods, many times a simple email or phone call can bridge the gaps our adversaries exploit in restricting or removing one of America’s greatest freedoms. 

While we all will find ourselves straying from the yellow lines from time to time, it’s important to surround ourselves with those with the passion to help us steer back on course. Organizations such as the UBCP, Idaho Aviation Association, Montana Pilots Association, and RAF are chock full of mentors looking for ways to help preserve and protect backcountry flying, and I know they would love an extra set of hands. During this winter season, while many of us wait for the snow and the skies to clear, let’s take this time to engage with our local aviation community. Find a mentor who will empower you to continue to make better aeronautical decisions; and prepare ourselves to serve in a similar role. Start making better decisions today that will provide even more opportunities for recreational aviation in the future, and find joy in keeping the dreams of backcountry flying alive.

Roy Evans II has been flying airplanes since he was eight years old. Having the opportunity to make a career out of being a professional aviator, Roy volunteers as the President of the Utah Back Country Pilots Association, preserving and protecting Utah’s backcountry airstrips while enhancing the safety of pilots across the west.

When his chores are done, he’s likely flying around in his Cub Special with one of his children in the back teaching them how to read a sectional while navigating them to the nearest huckleberry milkshake. 

Submitted December 21, 2023.


  1. Larry “Lumpy” Lumpkin on January 1, 2024 at 7:36 am

    Roy, I experienced the same comment when I was a newly minted charter pilot taking an FAR 135 check ride with a FAA examiner way back when. Apparently I was offset from the yellow taxi line and all he said was “The centerline is for ATP’s and ATCO (Air Transport Commercial Operator) pilots”. I have never forgotten him and his sage advice. He was a mentor in many ways. Along with discipline, he advocated courtesy, respect and honesty. I see all of these attributes in the RAF. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Don Seim on January 3, 2024 at 9:55 am

      Are you the Larry from Nebraska?

  2. Wayne Loeber on January 1, 2024 at 8:54 am

    Hey Roy,
    Well said. I miss all you wonderful UT Backcountry Guys. (And girls Wendy)
    Happy New Year
    Wayne Loeber

  3. Dan Prill on January 1, 2024 at 9:05 am

    Great article. Definitely worth the read.

  4. Tim Clifford on January 1, 2024 at 9:09 am

    Contributions like this tell me the stewardship of the backcountry is in good hands for years to come! Thanks Roy.

  5. Lawrence E Martin III on January 1, 2024 at 11:01 am

    Kudos Roy. All of us BC pilots need to support as many BC organizations as possible. That way our strips will survive and thrive. Lars

  6. Richard Dennis on January 1, 2024 at 11:06 am

    We all need to become involved. Once now several decades back, I attended a breakfast at the Lewiston Idaho Airport. (LWS) The event was sponsored by The Idaho Aviation Association with the speaker their President, Last name Miller I think. He shared how it was that he became involved. It was a 4th of July camping trip to the Chamberlin Basin. A hot day with pilots sitting in the shade of their wings all sitting side by side. At some point a ranger walked up, standing in front of him and demanded to know, “What gives you the right to fly in like this.” At that point he noted, that for those who knew him, that was all it took for him to get involved. I will note that aviators are a cut above. Get involved.

  7. Walt Peters on January 1, 2024 at 1:22 pm

    The sentence, “Etiquette and customs traverse generations — not in books or signs — but in actions.” says it all. It is our actions, and those based on manners and etiquette, that will ensure our access to the backcountry airstrips for years to come. Very well thought out and well written editorial.

  8. Daryl Austermiller on January 1, 2024 at 4:02 pm

    Excellent Roy. We all appreciate your hard work and informational articles.

  9. Bret Kobe on January 5, 2024 at 7:22 pm

    Great article! We all need to be mentors of not just safe flying and good decision making in the air but on the ground!

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