Volunteers Pull Together To Recondition A Popular Backcountry Airfield


Supporters of backcountry aviation gave more than just their time, cash and energy to repave the 3,800-foot runway at Grapevine Airstrip (88AZ) in Roosevelt, Arizona. The Recreational Aviation Foundation (RAF), 99s and the Arizona Pilots Association (APA) all contributed, and RAF Arizona liaison Mark Spencer added, “Hundreds … gave their time, money, sweat, and even blood—everything has thorns in the Sonoran Desert.”

The volunteers worked with the U.S. Forest Service to restore the airport to a safe condition, Spencer noted, adding that the location is popular among pilots visiting from central Arizona and the Phoenix area. The $30,000 cost of the project was shared by the U.S. Forest Service, the APA and the RAF through a Master Challenge Cost Share Agreement. The Forest Service’s Tonto National Forest paid $15,000, APA raised $10,000 and the RAF ponied up $5,000.

Spencer said, “As one of only two asphalt airstrips we know of on Forest Service lands, it is also frequently used by National Guard helicopters, Air Force Search and Rescue training, and has been a critical part of fire operations over the last two years for the Forest service. Grapevine is an example of what can be accomplished through partnering.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Great to see the local support!

    The Recreational Aviation Foundation participates in advocating for and funding for projects across the U.S. They have been SO GOOD that they have been to “go-to-guys” for the National Forest Service when it comes to back-country airstrips–from engineering–to wildlife studies–to actual WORK PARTIES for airstrips and construction of pilot shelters.

    It’s one thing to send money–and quite another to actually put “boots on the ground” to help build these projects. The RAF keeps a low profile–I’ve got to like an organization that “lets their actions do the talking.” I’m going to send them another donation!

  2. Great story and big thanks to Avweb for publishing! Would have loved another paragraph of this community-good example covering the actual work required. Looks like new asphalt. had to be a story of getting the materials on site.

    Might be worth a follow-up article.