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UPDATE: Arizona’s Grapevine Airstrip Is Open For Use

The Super Cub aircraft at a backcountry airstrip - Grapevine Airstrip in Arizona Draws Closer to Being Reopened
The Super Cub aircraft at a backcountry airstrip

The Grapevine Airstrip has a limited number of campsites available.

The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) is reporting that the latest Phoenix FAA sectional now shows the Grapevine Airstrip without an ‘X’ through it, which had previously been there for twenty years. According to the group, it’s taken nearly five years of collaboration between them, the Arizona Pilots Association (APA) and the UD Forest service to have the ‘X’ removed. The Grapevine Airstrip, which sits near the shores of Lake Roosevelt in Arizona, now bears the new identifier 88AZ.

The RAF specifically thanked USFS District Ranger Kelly Jardine for his support, in addition to “hundreds of volunteers who gave their time, monetary contributions, sweat, and even blood,” noting that everything in the Sonoran Desert has thorns. The group’s final Sping 2017 campout earlier this year attracted some “29 aircraft and dozens of pilots, friends, and families” all enjoying the great camping and recreational opportunities offered by this newly re-opened airstrip.

More Details on Using the Grapevine Airstrip

The group notes that though it is designated as private, airplane access to the airstrip is open to the public, though commercial and training operations are not allowed, and there is no automobile access. Limited campsites are available for visitor use along both the eastern side of the airstrip and midfield on the west. In addition, the RAF stresses that as a symbol of mutual cooperation between the aviation community and USFS, visitors will respect the USFS vision for the site and abide by certain guidelines, including:

  • Understanding and obeying the fire restrictions for the area.
  • Practicing ‘Leave No Trace’ ethics.
  • Not clearing any new areas.
  • Hand pull the aircraft off the airstrip and as far from the runway edge as practical.
  • Be courteous to other campers/visitors.
  • Keep safety in the front of your mind when flying into and out of the Grapevine Airstrip area.

Aerial view of Grapevine Airstrip in ArizonaBecause there are a limited number of spots, and to help provide usage information to the USFS, a special email address has been set up to help coordinate reservations of the sites. For pilots interested in visiting, please e-mail grapevine@azpilots.org, and provide them with the following information:

  • Any questions regarding visiting the airstrip.
  • Your tail number.
  • The desired dates for visiting the strip.

The RAF notes that APA can neither give permission to use nor limit access to the sites, but emailing them can give you an idea if sites will be available during the times you’d like to visit. From May – September, a port-a-john will remain on site, and the RAF will hold camp-outs and lunch every third weekend of the month during that same period.

For those interested in visiting the Grapevine Airstrip, it is asked that you review the APA’s safety brief (which you can find in PDF form here) and know your aircraft’s limitations so you can conduct safe operation into and out of the area.

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So how do you do this backcountry-flying thing successfully? Backcountry flying is a specialized activity, but it’s nothing to be intimidated about. Let’s look at what equipment you may or may not need, where you can find accurate information about backcountry airstrips so you can decide which ones to visit, and backcountry-specific safety and etiquette tips. [Read More]

Original Post 9-21-16: Grapevine Airstrip in Arizona Draws Closer to Being Reopened

The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) and Arizona Pilot’s Association (APA) have recently finished crack sealing the Grapevine airstrip, located in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. This brings the airstrip, which was closed in 1997, one step closer to being fully reopened for use and charted. According to the RAF, most of the maintenance and improvement work on the airstrip is complete. The next step in the process will be to apply a two-coat surface sealing to the entire surface of the airstrip, including the ramp areas. The process, funded by the RAF and APA, is scheduled to take place in the next few weeks.

More Details on the Grapevine Airstrip

Though the 3800 x 40 foot Grapevine airstrip has an asphalt surface, it is located in a prime backcountry environment. The strip is just a quarter mile from the shores of Roosevelt Lake, central Arizona’s largest body of water. In addition to the repaired asphalt surface, the airstrip also features new sun shades and picnic tables. The two groups also plan to add several more fire rings and campsites closer to the lake.

According to the RAF State Liasion for Arizona, Mark Spencer, “Since negotiating for its use the third weekend of each month, Grapevine has introduced dozens of pilots to the backcountry, pilots who might otherwise not have been able to experience it.” Spencer has been working with the US Forest Service to complete the necessary FAA paperwork.

So far, the FAA has completed its airspace analysis and approved use of the airstrip. The next step will be to request an FAA identifier for the airstrip. According to the groups, having the Grapevine airstrip appear on the Phoenix sectional will take some time. However, Spencer is hopeful that pilots will see the airstrip back on the sectional as early as spring of 2017. “This is what we can do through partnering with our friends at the Forest Service, local pilots, and with a dash of patience mixed with persistence,” Spencer added.

Anders Clark was introduced to aviation a few short years ago, and has developed an interest in aviation history and what the future of aviation will bring. A writer and editor, Anders enjoys researching and sharing the stories of aviation.