This is somewhere in the Talkeetna Mts. Do you see that ditch the left tire of the Super Cub is sitting in ? Notice the rocks behind the left tire. If the airplane was not sitting at an angle you would barely be able to tell if that was flat or if that was a bank. This airstrip washes out on a yearly basis and leaves us scrambling for a place to land. The rocks, grass, and mud, confuse the eyeballs so texture is very difficult to determine and the ground is doing it’s best to deceive. Just staring at the picture you may be thinking, “what is he talking about?” … Imagine flying over that at 45 mph trying determine the size of that bump, the rock next door, and everything else necessary to make an intelligent decision.
Those are 35″ tires, so that ditch is about 12″ deep. How would you like to hit that bump right after touchdown on a 450′ strip? You would bounce like a rabbit on steroids. The 35″ tires and rugged Super Cub landing gear can take the abuse, but it would tear the landing gear off of most aircraft. You are probably wondering if I smacked it when I landed….. The truth is I pushed the Super Cub into this position because I did not see the ditch. Mike was on final for landing and I was in a hurry to get out of his way. I just find it interesting how these little factors can all add up into a problem if you are not paying close attention.
The airstrip has not gotten washed out for the last 3 years because we finally found a pretty good spot for it. I have landed here many many times and I still have to do an occasional go-around because I cannot see the airstrip, even on short short final. I have learned to simply drive the cub to the general area of the strip, and then make necessary changes at the last second to hit the proper spot once my brain separates it out. Occasionally I miss the airstrip all-together and see it passing beneath the plane off to one side or the other, and I have to come back around to try again. Seeing an airstrip is a bigger part of the challenge than people realize. On most runways around the world that is not the primary concern, but in bush flying it is one of the many factors. The good thing about having invisible airstrips is that nobody else can see them either.