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Secret Base Number Three

An Indian Hills Airpark Excellent Adventure

By Ron Kilber

November 5, 2000

Red Selover and I departed Indian Hills Airpark (2AZ1) about five minutes ago. Each flying a Cessna 150, we are on our way to Secret Base Number Three (SB3). As I clear the mountains first, I can see SB3 on the distant desert.

Within minutes, Red and I are doing fly-bys to observe the condition of the airport, which is in the middle of nowhere. For miles, there are no people, no buildings and no civilization. All that's out here is a dirt airfield that, without continued maintenance, will eventually return to the desert that surrounds it.

With all the rain we've had in the past several weeks -- enough to flood nearby Wenden, Arizona -- it'd be suicide to land on any runway without first knowing its condition. A good portion of the north-south strip appears safe for landing in my opinion. Red likes the east-west strip, which he promptly positions himself for final and lands.

After Red confirms via radio that his landing took place without incident, I follow and set down right about where he did. Then I taxi on the hard-packed, sand-smooth strip to the west end where he waits. There are a few small bushes that have taken root along the way, but none are a match for 6X6 tires. Aside from the saplings, the only real obstacles are cow chips scattered here and there. No cattle are in sight, though.

This part of the Sonoran desert is unique. Save for washes here and there, the terrain is mostly flat and sandy, devoid of rocks so common everywhere else. The desert trees are small, excepting for a large Palo Verde occasionally. A very thin blanket of green grass covers the sand, which isn't yet altogether dry as a result of all the rain.

A bunch of us at the airpark wanted to fly to Eagle Airfield for a waffle fly-in early this morning, but everyone just went back to bed after looking out the window. Fog was so thick, I couldn't see the hangar across the way -- only its night light dimly shining through the near-zero visibility air.

The fog burned off eventually, but not many pilots were left desiring to fly. Red Selover and I -- die-hard C-150 drivers -- were not willing to forfeit an otherwise perfectly good flying day.

After walking the mile-long, east-west strip, Red and I discover a clearing where both runways cross. We also discover a neatly stacked pile of fire wood. Hmmm. Wouldn't this be a great place to camp sometime? Red agrees. His enthusiasm surprises me somewhat, considering he served in the military during WWII, retiring as a pilot and Lt. Col.

Finally, Red and I decide to organize a pancake breakfast out here for other airpark residents and friends. How much trouble could it be to haul a small camp stove and some pancake mix? The reward in this serene and pleasant setting would be worth ten times the trouble.

As the sun nears the western horizon, our take-off is as trouble-free as was our landing.

Not exactly ready to go home yet, Red and I decide to do touch-and-goes at the Outback Airport just northwest of Salome. On long final, I can see a person waving beside a Jeep Cherokee, which may well belong to Bill and Mary Goodman. At the numbers looking left, two individuals watch. At least one looks like Lane Gould, the owner of this airport. He's not shaking his fist at me, so I don't think he's minding the fly-by.

On climb-out, I follow Red as we barely make pattern altitude before reaching 2AZ1. No other traffic is in the area as we land on Runway 29 into a fifteen knot headwind.

It isn't long before my airplane is hangered at a time when the airpark is quiet, most residents having already settled in for dinner and the evening.

What an excellent adventure!


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

Rev: 7:24PM 11/6/00

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