Minden Nevada Airport/Airstrip Review, Part II

Having failed miserably in my original attempt to solicit local knowledge input via direct appeal to the Minden crowd and the contest organizers, I have included the entire contents of my September 2013 Minden Nevada Airport review below, updated as appropriate with the most recent Google Earth images.  Note that although I reviewed every airport/airstrip in the Minden database, I have only included here the ones that I personally thought 'problematic' in some way.  If you look at this, and have *any* information to add about a particular airport/airstrip, please let me know and I'll update this review as applicable.  You can add comments to this post, email me, snailmail me (does anyone remember how to do that?) call me at 614 594-2078 (office) or 614 539 3316 (home), strap a note to the leg of a homing pigeon (wait - that won't work!), or anything else and I'll be happy to add the information to the review.

Frank (TA)
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September 2013 Minden Google Earth Airport Review

Frank Paynter (TA)

In preparation for the 2014 18 meter national contest at Minden, I conducted a Google Earth review of all the airports in the Minden waypoint database dated 15 May, 2012.  For each airport in the database, I wanted to know:

  • Did it still exist?
  • Was it wide enough for my 18 meter (61 ft) glider?
  • Was it where the database said it was?

 

If the answer to all three of the above questions was ‘Yes’, then I went no further – I simply went on to the next airport.  If the answer to any of them was ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’, then I grabbed some screenshots and included them in this review, in the hopes that some other pilot could provide some additional information based on personal knowledge.  This report includes ONLY those airports/airstrips where there are ‘problems’ or ‘issues’.  If an airport or airstrip isn’t treated here, it means that I saw an airstrip at the advertised location, and I thought I could land my 18m glider there without any major issues.

If you have any additional positive or negative information about an airport/airstrip in the Minden waypoint database, especially one in this report, please contact me at ‘paynterf@gmail.com’.

Frank Paynter (TA)

 

Bailey Ranch: Imagery date 6/4/2011

Bailey Ranch Airstrip1

Way too narrow for 18 or 15 meter ships, with what looks like high crops on both sides - Run Away!

Way too narrow for 18 or 15 meter ships, with what looks like high crops on both sides.  Carson 8 mi SW is a much better bet.

 

Barker Creek Ranch Airstrip: Imagery date 4/19/2013

Barker Creek Airstrip1

Way too narrow for 15m or 18m, but might be do-able if sagebrush isn't too high.  Hadley (10 mi SSW) is a much better bet Way too narrow for 15m or 18m, but might be do-able if sagebrush isn't too high. Hadley (10 mi SSW) is a much better bet

 

Bear Valley Airstrip: Imagery date 8/2/2013

Bear Valley Airstrip2

 

Bear Valley Airstrip.  Pavement too narrow for 15m or 18m, but might be do-able if brush not too high.  Nearest decent alternative is Alpine County, 23 mi NE.

Bear Valley Airstrip. Pavement too narrow for 15m or 18m, but might be do-able if brush not too high. Nearest decent alternative is Alpine County, 23 mi NE.

 

Black Rock (Burning Man) Airstrip: Imagery date 4/9/2013

Black Rock City Airstrip1

Site of the world-famous 'Burning Man' festival.  The airstrip is hard to see, but it is big and smooth enough for even private jets.

Site of the world-famous 'Burning Man' festival. The airstrip is hard to see, but even private jets land there during the festival

Brownsville Airstrip: Imagery date 5/2/2013

Brownsville Airstrip

 

Brownsville Airstrip: Pavement way too narrow, but might work if overhang area is clear enough. Oroville (18 mi West and 2000’ lower) might be a better bet.

Brownsville Airstrip: Pavement way too narrow, but might work if overhang area is clear enough. Oroville (18 mi West and 2000’ lower) might be a better bet.

 

Darrow Field Airstrip: Imagery date 8/2/2013

Darrow Field1

Nothing there!  There *may* have been a N-S airstrip about 0.6 mi East of the depicted waypoint, but there's nothing there now.  Should be removed from database

Nothing there! There *may* have been a N-S airstrip about 0.6 mi East of the depicted waypoint, but there's nothing there now. Should be removed from database

 

 

Desert Creek Airstrip: Imagery date 8/2/2013

Desert Creek Airstrip1

Barely wide enough for 15m, marginal for 18m.  Recent photo shows tall bushes at intervals along both sides, surely high enough to snag a wing.  No nearby alternatives.

Barely wide enough for 15m, marginal for 18m. Recent photo shows tall bushes at intervals along both sides, surely high enough to snag a wing. No nearby alternatives.

 

Empire Airstrip: Imagery date 6/2/2013

Empire Airstrip1

Way too narrow for either 15 or 18m.  May be do-able if bushes on both sides are low enough.  No nearby alternatives (Black Rock City 14 mi NE is just open salt flats)

Plenty long enough, but too narrow for 18m and marginal for 15m. May be do-able if bushes on both sides are low enough. Only nearby alternative is the salt flat airstrip at Black Rock City 14 mi NE

 

 

Fallon Southwest Airpark: Imagery date 8/2/2013

Fallon Southwest Airpark2

 

Paved width isn’t enough for 15 or 18m, but it looks like the clear width is OK.

Paved width isn’t enough for 15 or 18m, but it looks like the clear width is OK.

 

Gibb Ranch Airstrip: Imagery date 6/4/2013

Gibb Ranch1

Way too narrow for 18m  (or even 15m) if the bushes are high.  Palomino 0.6 mi west is marginally better, but Air Sailing 3 mi NW is a much better bet

Way too narrow for 18m (or even 15m) if the bushes are high. Palomino 0.6 mi west is marginally better, but Air Sailing 3 mi NW is a much better bet

 

H Bar H Airstrip: Imagery date 6/04/2013

H Bar H Airstrip1

 

Too narrow for 18m if the bushes are high.  Reno/Stead airport 3 mi SE is  a much better bet

Too narrow for 18m if the bushes are high. Reno/Stead airport 3 mi SE is a much better bet

 

Hudson Airstrip: Imagery date 8/30/2010

Hudson Airstrip1

abandoned, but may still be OK

abandoned, but may still be OK

 

Justover Field Airstrip: Imagery date 6/4/2013

Justover Airstrip1

Way too narrow for 18m (or even 15m) if the bushes are high

Way too narrow for 18m (or even 15m) if the bushes are high

 

Lantana Ranch Airstrip: Imagery date 8/2/2013

Lantana Ranch Airstrip3

 

The actual Lantana airstrip is 2 mi NNW of the waypoint symbol - oops!

The actual Lantana airstrip is 2 mi NNW of the waypoint symbol - oops!

OK for 15m, very tight for 18 - wingtips will hang over edges

OK for 15m, very tight for 18 - wingtips will hang over edges

 

Paiute Meadows Airstrip: Imagery date 6/2/2013

Paiute Meadows Airstrip1

 

Tight for 15m, too narrow for 18 if bushes are high.  No nearby alternatives

Tight for 15m, too narrow for 18 if bushes are high. No nearby alternatives

 

Parker Carson Airstrip: Imagery date 6/14/2011

Parker Carson Airstrip2

Very tight for 15m, probably too narrow for 18m.  Carson City Airport 3 miles WSW is a much better bet.

Very tight for 15m, probably too narrow for 18m. Carson City Airport 3 miles WSW is a much better bet.

 

Soldier Meadow 2 Airstrip: Imagery date 6/2/2013

Soldier Meadow Airstrip2

 

long and wide enough, but nearest man-made structure is 20 miles to the SW!

long and wide enough, but nearest man-made structure is 20 miles to the SW!

 

Spaulding Airstrip: Imagery date 7/10/2012

Spaulding2

 

OK for 15m, marginal (but probably do-able) for 18m.  The ramp area at the north end is about 75' x 600'.

OK for 15m, marginal (but probably do-able) for 18m. The ramp area at the north end is about 75' x 600'.

 

Swanson Ranch Airstrip: 8/30/2010

Swanson Ranch Airstrip3

Airstrip is 4 mi SW of the waypoint symbol

Airstrip is 4 mi SW of the waypoint symbol

Too narrow for 15m or 18m if the bushes are high.  No nearby alternatives

Too narrow for 15m or 18m if the bushes are high. No nearby alternatives

 

Totem Pole Ranch Airstrip: Imagery date 4/9/2013

Totem Pole Ranch Airstrip3

Almost too narrow for 15m, way too narrow for 18m.  Appears to have  high brush on both sides.  Abandoned?

Almost too narrow for 15m, way too narrow for 18m. Appears to have high brush on both sides. Abandoned?

 

Wine Glass Ranch Airstrip: Imagery date 8/9/2013

Wine Glass Ranch Airstrip3

Even by Nevada standards, this one looks abandoned and unusable

Even by Nevada standards, this one looks abandoned and unusable

 

Youngberg Ranch: Imagery date 6/4/2013

Youngberg Ranch Airstrip3

 

Even by Nevada standards, this one looks completely gone.  Much better off at Reno/Stead 3 mi west

Even by Nevada standards, this one looks completely gone. Much better off at Reno/Stead 3 mi west

Youngberg Ranch Airstrip2

 

If you have gotten this far, I'll share my overall impressions with you.

  • Basically all of the outlanding strips in this review are way too narrow for an 18m ship, and you are going to overhang the sagebrush on both sides as you touch down.  If you can clear the sagebrush, no problem (at least until one wing comes down); otherwise, you are going to be SOL :-(.
  • I'm *real* happy that my current ride is a Ventus 2c and not an ASG-29, as I believe that gives me another couple of feet of ground clearance, especially out at the tips.  Just based on my memory, I think my outer panels are about 4' off the ground at their root ends, and probably about 5' at the tips.  That could make all the difference at many of these outlanding airstrips.  I plan to actually measure this the next time I assemble (which could be sometime in June if this damned snow doesn't stop!!!)
  • My original plan was to eliminate all 'problematic' airstrips from my personal database, but I don't think that's realistic in a soaring area where the problematic airstrips outnumber the good ones.  So, Plan B is to remove the really bad ones (Youngberg leaps to mind), especially the ones where a good airport is nearby.  Then, I plan to recode the rest of the 'problem children' as 'L' (Landable), so they'll show up differently on ClearNav and SN10.  This trick may or may not work on your particular nav system, so you'd best check ;-).  Then I plan to work real hard at staying within glide range of 'A' (Airport)-coded waypoints - accepting deviations or other tactical inefficiencies as necessary.  From unfortunate personal experience, I know what can happen in tiger country when the wheels come off!
  • If you are a flatland pilot like me, then it might be a real good idea to call the folks at Soaring Nv and arrange for some dual XC time.  I can say this safely now, because I already have confirmed reservations for 3 days of dual XC before the official practice period begins ;-)))).

Regards,

Frank (TA)

Frank Paynter

Dr. Frank (TA) Paynter has a PhD in Electrical Engineering. He retired from a successful 25-year civil-service career in 1993 and spent the next 15 years as a antenna researcher at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, retiring again in 2008 to become a full-time soaring bum.He is the author of the book “Cross Country Soaring with Condor”, co-authors (along with Scott Manley) the popular Condor Corner column for ‘Soaring’ magazine, and is a regular contributor to the Condor section at SoaringCafe.com.Along with Mark Hawkins, he is part owner of Hawke Tracking, the company that provides SPOT tracking services for contests and clubs. Before soaring came along, Frank was a national champion skydiver and still holds the record for the most number of consecutive dead-centers in skydiving competition. Frank started soaring in the mid-1990’s at Caesar’s Creek Soaring Club near Waynesville, Ohio and instantly fell in love with Cross-Country racing. Now he goes to as many contests as his wife of over 30 years will allow, and spends his winter months racing and instructing in Condor.

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  1 comment for “Minden Nevada Airport/Airstrip Review, Part II

  1. Hugh Bennett
    June 14, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Every serious cross country pilot I know does what Frank indicates, e.i., checking waypoint
    data for accuracy, runway width for wingspan clearance, etc. He’s not inventing the wheel,
    but his inputs are relentless. Boy’s gotta learn to relax.

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