Vale is only 39 miles as the crow flies from where our airplanes are based in Nampa, Idaho.
|Vale, Oregon is only 39 miles from Nampa, Idaho.|
Not even far enough away to count as an "Official" +50mile Cross Country Flight
I was surprised to find that Vale also has a really nice runway facility. The main runway in Vale is a nice paved runway. The “U.S. Chart Supplement”…Formerly the “Airport /Facility Directory” (A/FD) shows the runway as 3,872’ long by 65’ wide. The name of the facility is Miller Memorial Airpark.
|Miller Memorial Airpark - Vale, Oregon|
I decided to fly over and check it out since I had never flown into Vale before. I grabbed a bag with my running shoes and some running clothes and headed out for an adventure. From looking at some maps it looked like the downtown area was easily within running distance and I was feeling like I needed some exercise anyway.
On the way over I would be passing over many other familiar airports in the area so there are lots of places to land in-case of an emergency. The route took me directly over Greenleaf Air Ranch which looks like a really nice runway but isn’t shown on the current sectional charts. Greenleaf Air Ranch
|Aerial View of Greenleaf Air Ranch 1/10/2018|
|Aerial View of the Runway Environment - Notice the Malheur River just to the East of the Runway.|
Once arriving in the Airspace around Vale I noticed a lot of birds in the area so I had a real watchful eye out for avoiding any close encounters with our feathery friends. It also looks like there could be deer or other animals grazing in the area surrounding the airstrip so I decided to do a couple low passes to make sure no animals were going to dart out in front of me on landing.
Once on the ground I decided to taxi over and park next to some other airplanes on the ramp and that turned out to be a really bad idea.
|Airplanes parked at Vale, Oregon|
It took me about a half an hour of pushing on the wing struts and rocking the plane back and forth to get the airplane back onto somewhat solid ground. After that I was able to taxi over to this small island of concrete that was safe from the Creme Brulee Mud of Despair.
|An Island of Dry Ground!|
After getting the plane safely to the concrete island I explored the airport a bit. It looked like someone else had the same fate and then had devised a system of staying above the muddy mess below the gravel surface using expanded metal catwalk material to support the tires of their airplane.
The other airplanes were not so fortunate.
|This is a 1946 Luscomb.|
Seeing these abandoned airplanes always makes me wonder what the back story is behind them.
It also makes me wonder if they will ever fly again.
After exploring the airport it was time to put on my running shoes and head into town. On the way I saw some funny goats and sheep and horses. Being in rural areas like this always reminds me of being a kid.
|These Black & White Goats on Logs are so Funny!|
|This horse looks just like my horse named "Banner" that I had when I was growing up.|
|Bully Creek - A Tributary of the Malheur River|
Vale has some beautiful Architecture as well as the artistic murals that adorn the towns buildings. I particularly liked that there are so many different styles of architecture styles for a small town. From the indigenous stone building vernacular homes and historic buildings to international style civic buildings such as the Malheur county courthouse. I even spotted a really cool mid-century modern home on my run into town.
|Rinehart's Stone House and Stagecoach Inn|
|Malheur County Courthouse - International Style|
|Stone House built with Indigenous Stone collected from the surrounding area.|
|This building in downtown Vale, Oregon reminds me of buildings in Chicago that were designed by Burnham & Root in the late 1800's and those of the "Chicago School of Architecture". Although not as extravagant it does remind me of the Auditorium Building in Chicago designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler.|
Auditorium Building - Chicago, Illinois
I wonder who designed this building?
|Ornament Carved in Stone on a Historic Building in Vale, Oregon|
|A Very Cool Mid-Century Residence in Vale, Oregon|
...and here are some photographs of some of the beautiful murals in town. You really need to see them in real-life to appreciate the detail of many of these paintings.
|"Still exciting after all these years!!"|
After visiting downtown I headed back to the airport. The airplane was still safely on the concrete pad so I started up the engine and headed back to Nampa. After a few touch and goes and making sure the traffic pattern was clear of other aircraft both visually and verbally on the CTAF I did a practice spiral 360 to landing with minimum power to simulate an emergency. I think it is always good to practice these types of maneuvers in a controlled environment so you are prepared if it happens in an emergency situation. It is also good practice so that you have an idea of how far you can glide and not over-glide or out-glide your landing area. It is a bit of a balancing act to manage the energy of the airplane so that you have just the right amount of energy to put the airplane down where you want to. I also thought it would be kinda fun to do a 360 degree spiral to landing since the runway heading is at 360 :)....A 360 to Runway 360!
It was really relaxing to pull the power back and do a shallow gliding spiral down to the runway. Here is a video of the spiral approach and landing. The sun was getting low on the horizon and casting this beautiful light on the surrounding area too.
Along the way home the sun began to set and it was another spectacular sunset from the air.
I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing sunsets reflecting on the wings of an airplane!