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Tomahawk Truck Stop (Mile Marker 45, I-10, Arizona Outback)

An Indian Hills Airpark Great Breakfast Fly-out

Story and Photos
By Ron Kilber

Sunday, December 29, 2002

It's a cold winter morning as I apply full throttle to take off from Runway 26, Indian Hills Airpark, where I make my home in the Arizona Outback. I'm the last to depart in a convey of airplanes full of breakfast-hungry pilots and friends on our way to the Tomahawk Truck Stop.

Departing R/W 26
Ready for take-off on R/W 26, 1866 MSL
Click photo for high-resolution image

The Tomahawk Truck Stop is situated at mile marker 45 on I-10 approximately 12 statute miles southwest of here. More than twenty years ago, construction of I-10 gave birth to the Tomahawk Truck Stop, which made it possible to refuel and grab a meal without driving miles out of the way to US 60 or Salome. The truck stop is one of many along the freeway, which snakes through Arizona from Santa Monica, California to Jacksonville, Florida. And it's one of many having a landing strip handy for pilots to use whenever they're hungry or need fuel (car gas).

Getting there

Getting there is easy -- from here, that is. Point the nose southwest and fly to the intersection of I-10 and Vicksburg Road, the only place remotely close to where there are improvements on the otherwise barren stretch of four-lane road through the Sonoran Desert.

Tomahawk Struck Stop
Tomahawk Struck Stop, looking northeast with the landing strip parallel to and south of the freeway.
Click photo for high-resolution image

The Landing Strip

The Tomahawk landing strip is a mixture of hard-packed dirt and sand. It's an excellent field -- when dry. If it's still wet from a rainstorm, beware! Not only do you risk a landing mishap, but your tires will destroy the surface, leaving wheel marks deeply encased after the field dries out.

You may have another problem, too. The guy that maintains the surface may not take too kindly when he has to spend a day driving his grader all the way from Salome to the truck stop.

The landing strip is short with power lines on the east end. But it's long enough for many light airplanes to get out of at gross weight. I've never had a problem with my Cessna 150, for example. I just may not try taking off over the power lines without a good headwind. In addition, there are trees and brush on both sides of the strip. None have been a problem for my airplane or the low-wing owners I know who use the field. It's just good to know there're obstructions so you don't stray too far from the runway center. Field elevation is around 1100' MSL, much lower than our airpark.

The truck stop consists of a gas station, convenience store and restaurant. There's an RV park and service center for trucks nearby. A few houses are hidden behind tall bamboo trees. It's possible to taxi one's airplane right up to the fuel pumps, provided there are not too many eighteen wheelers blocking the way from the parking lot.

Need Fuel?
It's possible to taxi right up to the fuel pumps, as this pilot did during a previous visit to the truck stop.
Click photo for high-resolution image

The Food

The restaurant is cheerfully enough appointed with modern fixtures. The food is not truck-stop heavy or greasy, belying what you expect from an outpost like this. Perhaps restaurants out here can't survive on the eighteen-wheel traffic alone, thus catering to everyone in the motoring public including families and children. So it turns out that the Tomahawk is a good place for us to fly to once in a while. At least it's close enough. On weekends, many pilots fly out for breakfast from the Phoenix area, which is some 120 miles east.

Breakfast-hungry pilots
Happy to be here.
Left to right: Nick Glazar, Richard Glazar, John Neville, Bill Jones, Jean Neville, Forrest Phillips, Roger Kolbo & friend, Ed Willard, John Melton, Bob Bumgardner, Bill & Mary Goodman, Jan Phillips, Maynard Smith, Linda Jones, Neal Fivecoat, Adam McGrath and Rebecca (taking the food orders)
Click photo for high-resolution image

Returning to the airpark, Richard Glazar flies along side, providing opportunity for an air-to-air photograph. The weather is perfect, visibility is very good and the air is smooth. We want to fly together more now, but Glazar is retuning to L.A. today where his son Nick and friend Adam can play hand drums for the James Addiction band.

Glazar's C-172
Glazar's C-172 over the Harcuvar mountains en route to the airpark.
Click photo for high-resolution image


Copyright (C) 2003 Ron Kilber You may reprint this story for non-commercial use provided this copyright notice is left intact. Permission will not be unreasonably withheld for all other uses.

10:24 AM 1/1/2003

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