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Secret Base Number Two

An Indian Hills Airpark Excellent Adventure

By Ron Kilber

November 4, 2000

Den "J-3" Peck is on an easterly heading, flying low from the Indian Hills Airpark (2AZ1). I'm following in my Cessna 150. We're on our way to Secret Base Number Two. It's cloudy with scattered rain showers here and there. The wind is five to ten miles per hour. It's already late in the day, but there's ample time to return before it gets too dark, assuming we don't encounter difficulty.

While Den beelines for the airfield under power of 65 horses, I stray from course, first left, then right, so that I don't overtake him without having to power back too much my stronger and faster airplane. The meandering gives me opportunity to study and enjoy the terrain more than usual.

As we cross Centennial Wash, which drains the recently flooded McMullen Valley into the Gila River, water damage is apparent everywhere. Few farms and homesteads along and near the wash have escaped damage to land and improvements.

After about twenty minutes of flight, we approach the secret airfield near a saw-tooth hill, our altitude actually lower than 2AZ1. Den lands heading northerly, then taxi's to a clearing farther along.

After flying a short final approach, I'm surprised by how much noise there is when my main wheels contact the ground. The rumble tells me this desert strip has gravel larger than usual.

Once planted on terra firma again, I wonder who built this airstrip. Den thinks it was installed to support a gold-mining operation. Junk near a wash looks like it could well be the remnants of a large sluice box used to recover gold from surface material. A large block building has done well to survive the elements, but not vandals and target shooters. Bullet holes are everywhere. It doesn't look like a single block has escaped damage. A well is nearby, too.

It's only natural that our conversation switches to camping, as in airplane camping -- out here! Yes, this would be a great place to spend the night. It's remote, quiet and I bet the stars would be brighter than ever. Plus, it's a sure bet no one will show up in camp late at night with loud mouths, bad music or unruly kids.

With less than an hour of daylight, we decide it's time to blast off. Den's J-3 is quickly off the ground. My 150 takes more rolling.

This time, it's me bee-lining for home. Den diverts for some rain showers for a free plane wash along the Harquahala Mountains.

In time for sunset, Den and I safely return to 2AZ1 within minutes of each other

What an excellent adventure!


Copyright (C) 2000 Ron Kilber Non-commercial reproduction permitted in its entirety with this copyright notice intact.

Rev: 6:53PM 11/6/00

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