“Aviators’ Paradise,” Greg’s December, 2014 Flying Carpet column

New and different circumstances

MogollonAirparkAZ82aloft_1300eSmw1200Among both the joys and challenges of piloting, is that however long we fly we’re continually encountering new and different circumstances. Recently Jean and I attended an FAA Safety Seminar at Mogollon Airpark (AZ82), a private fly-in residential community high on the Mogollon Rim 100 miles northeast of Phoenix.

FAAsafetySeminar_MogollonAirparkAZ82_4166eSmw1200Although Jean had lately observed that, “we don’t do enough together, anymore,” I was stunned when she cancelled Saturday-morning tennis to join me for the highly esoteric topic of “ADS-B surveillance, traffic, and weather delivery technology.” Later it came out that she was “also a little sore from too much tennis.”

Our destination likely impacted her decision, too. Picture your favorite childhood piney-woods summer camp, set at 6,700 feet elevation for nice, cool summers. Now add a paved runway and homes with attached hangars on spacious wooded lots, and you’ll appreciate why we enjoy visiting this aviators’ paradise.

Jean_FAAsafetySeminar_MogollonAirparkAZ82_1297eSmw1200Flying into private airports generally requires prior planning and permission, so you can’t wait until departure morning to figure things out. Such airports needn’t meet public-use airport standards and rarely appear in official publications such as the FAA Airport/Facility Directory. Fortunately, Mogollon’s web site specifies rules and recommends safety procedures. As with many private strips, visiting pilots are required to pre-submit aircraft insurance documentation and a hold-harmless form. The website also designates Runway 21 as calm-wind runway, specifies right traffic for Runway 3, and prohibits night landings.

The high-elevation strip is only 3,436 feet long, shorter than I remembered, and is surrounded by tall pines. That raised density-altitude concerns. Looking more closely however, I noted that narrow centerline taxiways at each end of the runway effectively add another 2600 feet for takeoff, well within Flying Carpet capabilities.

MogollonAirparkAZ82aloft_1280eSmw1200Particularly thought-provoking is that Mogollon’s runway slopes downhill from the midpoint in both directions. As a result, departing pilots cannot see aircraft at the opposite end of the runway — in fact they are so thoroughly blocked by the midpoint rise that they may not hear each other’s radio transmissions. Accordingly I studied and printed the airpark’s 7-point “Safety Warning” anti-collision departure procedures list.

Finally, I pre-calculated my course since you can’t just dial it in after takeoff. Private airports rarely appear in panel-mounted GPS navigator databases, so getting to Mogollon requires manually entering its coordinates as a user waypoint, or applying old-fashioned pilotage and dead reckoning…

READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE FLYING CARPET COLUMN, AVIATORS’ PARADISE.” (Please allow a moment for the article to load.)

Photos: Arizona’s remote Mogollon Airpark, 100 miles northeast of Phoenix.

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

©2014 Gregory N.Brown