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Grassy Getaway

Jim Meade

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Today a fellow local CTSW pilot owner and I flew my plane out for a little grass strip action. We departed Iowa City KIOW and headed northwest. We stayed about 2,000 MSL as we passed U.S. Highway 6 going northwest so we could stay under the Cedar Rapids KCID Class C outer shelf. Soon we were over Green Castle IA24 following another airplane in the pattern. I have about 800 hours of instruction given out of IA24. It has an asphalt runway 24' by 2600' with a sod extension making it about 4000' total with lots of buildings, trees and other sources of mechanical turbulence. It's an airport you want to be fully alert on if doing night operations. Continuing on, we flew over the Coralville Reservoir keeping the bluffs that mark the 5 mile KCID inner circle on our right and proceeded on to the Amana C11 turf airport, which is 2600' long and 95' feet wide. The airport is operated by an ag application company and gets a lot of heavy spray plane traffic. It had been flooded in 2008 and reseeded in 2010. I called John Thompson and asked him about the surface condition which he said correctly was good.


I did two LDG/TO in a light crosswind that disappeared as we dropped below the tree cover on the north side. The approach end of 27 is over the city sewer system so you definitely don't want to land short in the lagoons. The CTSW with standard tires handled the sod strip very well. I taxied with some power but not too fast, holding the stick full back to help avoid any dips that would put the prop in the dirt.


My friend then flew a TO and LDG. He has about 300 hours, all of it in CTSW, and did a very creditable job. He has a very good understanding of the fundamentals and maintains a very consistent and controlled approach. He does better than I do in several aspects. I learned from him and he learned from me. I was rather high on one approach and did what he described as an extreme slip to lose altitude. Shucks, I didn't think it was anything......:)


As we left Amana with a short field TO, we called leaving the pattern and were answered by a little yellow high wing plane that overflew C11 and then did a turn to the Northeast, back toward KCID. I recognized the voice of a good friend Walter Rich, whom I'd spent some time with in his Stinson 108-2 years ago giving him instrument instruction. Now he is flying a Taylorcraft out of his own grass strip a mile west of the 5 mile inner circle of KCID. He was going home. "Come on up and land", he invited. Port helm and we followed him in, did a 360 over his field for orientation and set up in the pattern. Downwind to the east, turn base over the fish ponds but don't cross the road or you'll bust KCID Class C and then we were on final, crossing below the power line level in the gap caused by a short run of underground cable on short final to Rich Field 06IA  which has a Walford, IA address.


Walter enjoyed seeing my CTSW and we enjoyed looking over his Light Sport Eligible Taylorcraft.


The sun was getting low, so we headed back to Iowa City with a detour over Picayune Airport, 06IA, being careful to stay well clear of the 2500 foot towers west of West Branch. I've landed at Picayune in the past but today we were short on time so we headed it southwest and joined the downwind to 30 KIOW. My landing on concrete was the worst of the day. :( 1.2 hours on the Hobbs meter, but a full afternoon of pure enjoyment with good weather, a good airplane, good friends and good grass airstrips. I love to work grass. Today was one that was good for the soul. I'd fly a broom if that's all I had.             



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Jim, it's good to hear that you're enjoying your CT. The fun of owning and flying a CT is that the plane is so versatile - it can travel X country at good speed and comfort using very little fuel and also allows one to pop into short narrow runways whenever the opportunity arises. There's a lot of neat grass airports here in Michigan. Lately, we've had beautiful weather and the strips are still open. Some of the best gatherings of pilots and planes I've been to have been on little grass strips.

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