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Thread: Off Airport Landing

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Santa Cruz, CA

    Default Off Airport Landing

    We fly Carbon Cubs, which are ideally suited to off airport operations. We love this type of flying, which opens up the world in between airports and provides a direct connection to the landscape and wildlife in California. Flying low and slow, it isnít unusual to see whales, sharks, hawks, deer and wild boar, As we often tell non-pilots, or cross country pilots, most flying is measured by how quickly you can get from one airport to another. Weíre more interested in seeing whatís in between airports, as slowly as possible.

    There are many grass or dirt airstrips in our area that allow for quick breaks, in between flying. We love Frasier Lake, Mercey Hot Springs, Panoche and Monterey Bay Academy. Our large diameter bush wheels make these landing possible and safe.

    In September of 2020, a friend and I were exploring BLM (public) land southeast of Hollister, CA, when we discovered an open valley that provided a much needed break (and pit stop). We had no cell coverage at this low altitude, so we couldnít confirm that we were still over the BLM land. In our haste to land, we had inadvertently landed on private property and now faced the consequences of landing on one of the largest private land holdings in the western U.S. (see below)

    Public BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land can be explored through apps like OnX Hunt, but require connectivity to be useful. Throughout the U.S., public land is interspersed with private property. In our haste to take a break, we had crossed the line.

    We donít want you to make the same mistake that we did. If you arenít sure of your location, donít land, especially on private property (unless, of course, itís an emergency). The Las Aguilas ranch and Quien Sabe Valley are definitely off limits. This ranch has been been negatively impacted by countless low flying airplanes and helicopters in the past. In one egregious example, a pilot incited a full scale stampede that destroyed over a mile of expensive fencing and left organized pastures in shambles. Other pilots have dropped off illegal passengers, to hunt. The owners have every good reason to be upset and are deadly serious about illegal entry on their land.

    As a fellow pilot who loves wide open spaces, we implore you to avoid landing on private land in general, and this one in particular. It covers 60,000 acres, between Hollister and Mercey Hot Springs (see below). Donít even think about landing there, or flying down low on to the deck. In fact, our advice is to avoid all private property, unless youíve made prior arrangements with the owner.

    Safe Flying.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dan L's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Off Airport Landing

    I agree that it is always important to know about the status of the property that youíre landing on. And as a landowner I understand issues with trespass. We have a couple of miles of riverfront through our place and have problems with recreational floaters leaving trash and starting fires on the bank and into the trees.

    I donít want to sound like a wise guy, but reading your post, it sounds almost like a requirement for a public service penalty? I wonder what actually happened to you? Our county sheriff is too busy (so he says) to do anything about trespassers here.
    Flying Carbon Cub EX #11 since 2011

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2016

    Default Re: Off Airport Landing

    Even though it's BLM doesn't always give you an open ticket to land. There are two BLM airstrips (dirt, rocky, rough, not on sectionals) where I live. They are closed seasonaly for Grouse and Mustangs (horses). The strips are not marked as closed, no X's or NOTAMS, nothing.

    I found this out because I have a relationship with a professional group in the area that uses them for training. In conversation, I mentioned the strips and they happened to say that the strip are closed. I asked how did they know? They were talking with BLM about something and BLM told them about the closures.

    So one might not know that an BLM area was closed, seasonaly or not.
    Dan Arnold

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