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Thread: Get Involved – Death Valley’s Chicken Strip

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    windknot54's Avatar
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    Get Involved – Death Valley’s Chicken Strip

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    For nearly a quarter-century the Chicken Strip airfield at Death Valley National Park has been operating illegally. Now park officials are seeking public input on whether the strip should be deemed a legal use.

    Chicken Strip is famous among recreational pilots for its dramatic desert scenery and the challenges it poses to pilots. However, the landing strip’s ongoing use is a non-enforced violation of National Park Service (NPS) regulations.

    The Saline Valley Warm Springs Airfield, commonly known as Chicken Strip, is an unpaved landing strip near Saline Valley Warm Springs that has been in use for decades. However, when the area was added to Death Valley National Park in 1994, landing at the Chicken Strip became illegal by default regulations restricting the operation of aircraft on NPS lands.

    “This proposed special regulation is really a deregulation,” explained Death Valley Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “It would remove any question about the legality of the airfield’s use by visitors. We believe this is a common sense approach that corrects a regulatory technicality.”

    Chicken Strip has been used by an average of 88 planes per year in recent years. Some pilots use it to access the nearby Warm Springs. Others are drawn by the challenge of the airstrip itself.

    Volunteers with the Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF) maintain the airstrip at no cost to the taxpayers. “The RAF and the NPS have been successfully partnering for nearly ten years to make access to the Chicken Strip safe and available to the aviation community,” said RAF board chairman John McKenna.

    The NPS seeks public input on whether the Chicken Strip should be a legal airstrip. Public comments are due by November 19. The pilot community needs show our support for the NPS’s effort to legitimize this airstrip. That the airstrip was not an adopted feature was simply an unfortunate oversight. The NPS supports the existence of the airstrip and is seeking to formally acknowledge its continued use through this action. We need to provide polite, professional and personal comments to show our support for the airstrip.

    Comments should reference Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AE48, and will only be accepted online at: https://www.regulations.gov/searchRe...p=true&ns=true or by mail to: Death Valley National Park, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, CA 92328. Comments received by mail may be posted without change tohttps://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

    Please take a few minutes to express your support for the continued use of the Chicken Strip. Even if you never visit this airstrip, helping others to protect our access to public lands is important.

    Richard Mayes
    The Recreational Aviation Foundation
    rmayes@theraf.org | www.TheRAF.org
    “The Recreational Aviation Foundation preserves, maintains and creates airstrips for recreational access.”

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    Everybody who is a member of this site needs to do this. Do it NOW!!! I challenge everybody to do it and then paste your comment on this thread.

    Submitting a comment is easy!!!! Use your own words, but here is what I submitted -



    Regarding Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) 1024-AE48
    I am a recreational pilot and outdoor enthusiast in Tennessee. One of my long term ambitions is to visit the "Chicken Strip" airfield in Death Valley before I die. The airstrip only enhances the park, it is respectfully used and maintained by the pilot community and it is an important link in the network of airfields that allow aviation access to public lands. I fully understand the need to keep intrusive noise and man-made hubbub from our natural places. At it's current usage level, it poses no threat!!! Please allow the continued use of this asset.
    Thanks Beaverpilot, jrussl thanked for this post
    Likes OldCuby, jrussl liked this post

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    windknot54's Avatar
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    Just a gentle reminder that comments on the NPS proposal must be submitted by 19 November. As of this moment, there are 343 comments submitted. The comments are overwhelming in favor of formalizing the operational status of the Chicken Strip.


    If you have not yet made a submission, please take a couple of minutes to support this unique backcountry airstrip. To those of you who have already commented - cheers and thanks for your support!
    Likes OLDCROWE liked this post

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    Done.

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    Done, thanks.
    Practicing open cockpit extremism

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    windknot54's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone that took the time to submit comments on this proposal. The NPS received 461 comments, which overwhelmingly supported the proposal to formally open the Chicken Strip to General Aviation use.

    Your efforts may have helped saved an iconic airstrip for future generations of backcountry aviators to enjoy. I hope to see you at Chicken Strip someday in the very near future!
    Likes jrussl liked this post

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    I’m parked a chicken Strip right now, glass of wine in hand, about to watch a full moon rise,
    with internet service no less.. ok, maybe that’s not a good thing.
    This place is truly a great resource , thanks to all who have worked to keep it open.

    Doug
    Likes jrussl, CamTom12, FdxLou liked this post

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    So when flying into saline moa do you call Joshua approach and say I would like to fly into the chicken strip? Do they then come back and say it is not hot or traffic will not be a factor? I have no moas where I fly, but I would like to make it to the chicken strip someday. Thanks Jim

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    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    It is not the MOA traffic that you should be concerned with. The floor is 3000 AGL. Your concern should be traffic on the IR and VR high speed low level routes. They are on the sectional. IR routes are flown under ATC control. VR routes are not. ATC may not know who is on the VR routes. Just use extreme caution crossing those routes.




    Quote Originally Posted by LUCIFER View Post
    So when flying into saline moa do you call Joshua approach and say I would like to fly into the chicken strip? Do they then come back and say it is not hot or traffic will not be a factor? I have no moas where I fly, but I would like to make it to the chicken strip someday. Thanks Jim
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    Thanks for the quick reply. By looking at the sectional I had though the western part of saline moa was to the surface. I saw the 3000 feet agl on the eastern part of the moa. I was aware of the ir and vr routes. Thanks for pointing them out and I will extra caution when near them. I am also thinking of stopping at Lone Pine and I see both ir and vr routes near there.

    I left my comments also on the above link a few months ago. Thanks Jim
    Last edited by LUCIFER; 12-26-2018 at 11:41 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCIFER View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply. By looking at the sectional I had though the western part of saline moa was to the surface. I saw the 3000 feet agl on the eastern part of the moa. I was aware of the ir and vr routes. Thanks for pointing them out and I will extra caution when near them. I am also thinking of stopping at Lone Pine and I see both ir and vr routes near there.

    I left my comments also on the above link a few months ago. Thanks Jim
    Even if there is a MOA where you want to fly, you do not need ATC permission to fly through it under VFR. Highly, highly recommended but not required.

    I would also recommend that you squawk 1200 if you are operating near a MOA or military training route. Some military aircraft have TCAS or other data feeds and will be able to see you. I have met folks before who turn their transponder off when in remote areas or not talking to ATC.

  18. #18
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Upon further examination the Saline MOA West floor is 200 AGL. East is 3000 AGL.



    Quote Originally Posted by LUCIFER View Post
    Thanks for the quick reply. By looking at the sectional I had though the western part of saline moa was to the surface. I saw the 3000 feet agl on the eastern part of the moa. I was aware of the ir and vr routes. Thanks for pointing them out and I will extra caution when near them. I am also thinking of stopping at Lone Pine and I see both ir and vr routes near there.

    I left my comments also on the above link a few months ago. Thanks Jim
    Last edited by Eddie Foy; 12-28-2018 at 07:28 AM.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  19. #19
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    I put the question out to some guys who flew fighters with good radar. They can see a mode 3 target. In addition to a skin paint.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    Pretty sure the MOA at saline valley shares the western border with the National park.
    All of Saline Valley is within the park so, I assume below 3000 AGL you’re good.
    North and south pass into the valley (actually a “sink”, valley with no exit) are around 7500’ MSL, valley floor about 1200’.
    Doubt land based radar or Joshua app. will do you much good once below the rim of the valley.

    Ive heard military folk like to put on a bit of a show over the hot springs, I’ve always wondered if they can “see” a tube and fabric plane soon enough to avoid withought aid of land based comm. and radar.
    Guess the weight penalty of that extra coat of “Poly Spray” may prove beneficial under these circumstances, assuming these trainer jets are equipped with sufficient radar.
    Last edited by Oliver; 12-26-2018 at 09:15 PM.

  21. #21
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Nope! Floor of MOA in Saline Valley is 200 AGL.
    The Chicken Strip has high speed low level routes right on top of it. They are 10 miles wide.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver View Post
    Pretty sure the MOA at saline valley shares the western border with the National park.
    Last edited by Eddie Foy; 12-27-2018 at 07:41 AM.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Foy View Post
    Nope! Floor of MOA in Saline Valley is 200 AGL.
    The Chicken Strip has high speed low level routes right on top of it. They are 10 miles wide.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    So use your influence and tell them to go get their own strip, this one's ours!
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

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    Good to know, thanks for clarifying.

    military flights in the valley are “normally”
    limited to weekdays and non holidays.
    Ive heard mixed responses as to weather a jet on training routes can see and avoid cub type aircraft.
    I guess would depend on the pilot and where his focus is at the time of the encounter “see and avoid”.

    Awhile back I had a jet scream under me while on a 1 mi final into Lone Pine.
    I mentioned the incident to an attendant at the airport while fueling. I asked him if that was common and if the jet was aware of my presence, he said it’s common and “doubt it”

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    slowmover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver View Post
    I've heard mixed responses as to whether a jet on training routes can see and avoid cub type aircraft. I guess would depend on the pilot and where his focus is at the time of the encounter “see and avoid”.
    Also depends on the capabilities of the aircraft. These routes are usually "owned" by a particular unit that flies a certain type of aircraft but can be used by anybody with prior coordination. I used to regularly fly low-level on and off of published routes in a C-130. We looked for traffic but it would be false to say that we saw everything. We also used TCAS, which is why I said earlier to turn your transponder on.

  25. #25
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    When you are travelling 500 kts at low altitude, bug smashers are not at the top of the priority list. First is dodging big birds and not running your pink butt into the ground. You have a better chance of seeing them first unless you are being overtaken. If you must cross the 10 mile wide route, do it at right angles. Don't parallel it. These fighter pilots are not showing off. They are training to fight the country's foes so that you may sleep safely at night. They can see you on radar but can't spend a lot of time scanning it.
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

  26. #26
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Suspect that the routes and the MOA pre-date the strip.

    Quote Originally Posted by OLDCROWE View Post
    So use your influence and tell them to go get their own strip, this one's ours!
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Foy View Post
    Suspect that the routes and the MOA pre-date the strip.
    The Army taught me “The effective range of an excuse is zero meters.”
    Remember, These are the Good old Days!

  28. #28
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    It's like when you build your airport in the middle of nowhere and the folks move next to it and complain about the airplanes. No excuses here.
    Quote Originally Posted by OLDCROWE View Post
    The Army taught me “The effective range of an excuse is zero meters.”
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"
    Likes OLDCROWE liked this post

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    Ok, so based on this recent exchange of info - the fact that the valley is 7 mi wide with a 10 mi wide VR route running right up the center at or above 200’ AGL, military folk more concerned about interactions with larger (I assume military ?) aircraft and terrain than smaller GA aircraft?
    Hmm, maybe not such a great spot to recreate after all.

    I've been buzzed in adjacent Owens and Kern valley too. Neither are published VR routes, who’s at fault if a mid air?

  30. #30
    Eddie Foy's Avatar
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    Where a fighter aircraft can fly VFR is limited by the 250 below 10,000 ft rule. If they exceed that limit, it must be in protected airspace. Restricted, MOA, VR or IR route. Because the A-10 could fly well at 250, we flew a lot outside of protected airspace. I only had one significant encounter with a GA aircraft. He blundered into the Avon Park range while it was hot then tried to keep me from reading his tail number. Didn't work.

    Oliver is right, best have your head on a swivel. If a midair occurs, an investigation would be conducted to determine cause. If you fly in these areas you are assuming the risk. It's a big country and the military has to train somewhere. If you follow the track of the low level routes, you will see that they all end up in restricted airspace where the jets will expend ordnance or train air to air.

    I won't name names but I once heard two pilots on the forum state. "That restricted area has a floor of 100 AGL. If we stay at 50 ft, we can transit it!"

    Really! The jet wash of an F-18 travelling at 500 kts and 100 ft over your head will ruin your whole day!




    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver View Post
    Ok, so based on this recent exchange of info - the fact that the valley is 7 mi wide with a 10 mi wide VR route running right up the center at or above 200’ AGL, military folk more concerned about interactions with larger (I assume military ?) aircraft and terrain than smaller GA aircraft?
    Hmm, maybe not such a great spot to recreate after all.

    I've been buzzed in adjacent Owens and Kern valley too. Neither are published VR routes, who’s at fault if a mid air?
    "Put out my hand and touched the face of God!"

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    I see the chicken strip is called Nudy Camp on the R -2508 Complex Users Handbook. I couldn't get the pdf to post but here is the address look at page 5.2.1. figure 5-1.

    https://www.edwards.af.mil/Portals/5...-03-134058-827
    Last edited by LUCIFER; 12-29-2018 at 12:40 PM.

  32. #32
    sodak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LUCIFER View Post
    I see the chicken strip is called Nudy Camp on the R -2508 Complex Users Handbook.
    How about planing our next supercub 2019 flyings there!
    Strangers are friends I have not met yet

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