October Skies


October Skies

October has always been a big month for those who enjoy getting out with their airplanes. Yes, July has Oshkosh, and April is for Sun ‘n Fun… but October is the time of year when the summer heat has gone, the winter cold has yet to arrive, and the forests are bright and colorful. Organized fly-ins and campouts abound, and it is easy to find someplace to go and meet other aviators on any given weekend.

As the month drew to a close, we “disorganized” a small fly-in to a mountain airstrip here on the Nevada/California border. I don’t like to “organize” events – that’s too much work. We simply use a well-known forum on the internet to announce that we’re going camping at such and such a place on a certain date, and if anyone wants to join us – that’d be great! Last year we attracted ten airplanes; this year we had somewhere about that. People come, hike, share some camaraderie and airplane stories… some spend the day, some stay the night.

Alpine County Airport (M45) is located at the southern end of the Carson Valley in Nevada, about 40 miles south of Reno. Hardly remote, it takes about 12 minutes to fly there from the state capitol of Nevada (Carson City), but because it is up in the foothills, it has the feel of being wild. There are no facilities – just a nice runway, a good ramp with tiedowns, and space in the nearby woods where you can camp. You have to bring everything – there is no water, no toilets, and no tables.  This year, an RV builder drove in with his camper and provided a few amenities – but overall, it was just a relaxed place to enjoy the outdoors and talk airplanes.

Morning brought some interesting clouds, courtesy of upper winds and the Sierra Nevada mountains. Standing Lenticulars are always neat – when you add a few layers, you get spectacular formations that look almost extraterrestrial.  I launched from home (a 17 minutes flight) shortly after this picture was taken, and am glad to report that I suffered only some light turbulence and no alien abduction.

You don’t need big fly-ins with lots of organization to get together with flying friends and make new acquaintances. “Disorganize” a fly-in wherever you are, while the weather is good – and enjoy the flying!

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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