Idaho has a great network of local community airports. Some of these airports have landing strips that are a bit shorter than some pilots might be used to but they offer the opportunity to see new places that are more off the beaten path than a typical mile long runway.
This week I flew to Parma, Idaho and Homedale, Idaho for some short-field takeoff and landing practice. Homedale's runway is 2,900 ft long but has displaced thresholds which make it significantly shorter. Pilots can use the displaced threshold for the take-off roll & roll-out but are not allowed to land within the thresholds. The reason for the thresholds in Homedale are that Highway 95 crosses near the end of runway 13 and there are trees at the end of runway 31. The displaced thresholds provide an added margin of safety for the approach but reduce the overall usable length of the runway. Here is a video of some takeoffs & landings at Homedale. The wind was super calm this day & there was minimal air traffic so you see me land one direction and then turn around and take off the other direction.
Parma's runway is about 2,700' long. In many cases I could have done a touch and go when landing runway 12 but I was playing it safe and back-taxiing to make sure I had adequate runway for my takeoffs. The last landing in the video at Parma is a touch and go. Currently Parma's approach for Runway 12 is right traffic and left traffic for runway 30. This helps keep traffic from flying directly over town. Also, in the Airport Facility directory it recommends landing on runway 30 and taking off on runway 12 when the winds allow. In this video other traffic was departing runway 12 so you see me land and take off runway 12 and then circle around to land on runway 30.
The saying, "A Mile of Airstrip can take you Anywhere!" can also be used as a metaphor for the opportunities that these airports provide. These smaller airports promote business and industry and are a great asset to our local communities and economy. One example is Kitfox aircraft in Homedale, Idaho. A few years ago my wife Karma and I had the opportunity to take a tour of their facilities in Homedale. They manufacture amazing backcountry kit built airplanes as well as certified aircraft. Great people producing a great product! Local companies at our small local airports provide employment opportunities and add to the local economy and to the interesting fabric of our communities.
Another important role that many of these airports provide to our local farming communities are bases for aerial applicators. When flying into Parma this week I was communicating with a local crop duster coordinating our arrivals and departures. The pilot was super nice and it was inspiring to watch him swoop down over the fields from above. Aerial application pilots have some amazing flying skills. In the video you see him landing in Parma. The roar of that radial engine was a sound familiar to my childhood.
I remember being enamored with the local crop dusters when I was a kid. I would run outside when I heard the crop duster's engine in the distance and the pilot would wave to me as he flew over the fields next to our house. A few years ago I was riding my motorcycle next to some fields in southern Idaho and a crop duster flew down next to me and waved to me as he barely cleared the tops of the crops.
The Idaho Department of Transportation publishes a Summary of Economic Impact of airports in Idaho every 10 years. The last study was conducted in 2009. This link shows the total employment, payroll and total output of airports in Idaho.
Idaho Airport Economic Impact Summary
We are lucky in Idaho to have so many local community airports and we should protect and promote this valuable industry.
~ Tad Jones