suggests taking a bug-collecting jar with a
magnifying-glass lid, cheap binoculars,
and small flashlights. Patti has even
watched students entertain themselves
for nearly an hour turning the runway
lights on with a handheld radio. Airplane
Since all your stuff has to fit in your airplane,
you’ll want good-quality, lightweight, low-volume gear—or a bigger airplane. How
much gear depends on what you’re flying; a
Cessna 152 or RV- 8 has less space than a
Bonanza or the Turbo Stationair that
Ramona flies. Nearly every airplane works
with most airports, Don says, so don’t let
yours limit your imagination.
Given your mode of transport, you’ll
need portable airplane tiedowns, and a cell
phone will help you check weather. A few
pieces of plywood to slide under your
wheels will also keep your airplane from
sinking in wet ground.
Feel like roughing it? Throw a tarp over
the wing and call it done.
In bear country,
particularly, avoid storing
food in your airplane,
unless, of course, you’re
shopping for a new one.
If you want a stove, pick one that burns
avgas, Don says. For remote trips, say to
forestry air strips, Ramona recommends
adding a few extras: a snakebite kit, a per-sonal-locator beacon, water-purification
tablets or filter, and a satellite phone—all
in case of emergency and to get weather in
mountainous areas, where an accurate
report is a safety issue. If this is your idea
of camping, consider first taking a back-country-flying course to hone your
short- and unimproved-field landing techniques; Ramona worked up to the
most-challenging fields and still works to
PACKING THE PLANE
Unless you also have a Stationair, you’ll need
to pack judiciously. “Go through your stuff
and say, do I really need this, do I really need
that,” Don says.
Patti suggests packing as if you were
going to carry it all on your back. “Most peo-
ple would not set out for the day with a pack
of more than 40 pounds,” she says. “If you
figure two people with 4 0 pounds, that’s 80
pounds. You have that in the back of a 152.”
Of course, you don’t want 80 pounds
flopping around the back of your airplane.
Keep everything packed tightly by cinching
your load down with cargo netting or gear
straps, Ramona says.
Consider weight-and-balance, too. Heavy
items should be stowed low and forward; otherwise, they can tumble backward, which is
probably more excitement than you’re looking
for. These kinds of real-world weight-and-balance and performance calculations are exactly
the reasons Patti does camping trips with students. “It really calls upon you to use your
basic flight-planning skills in a way that sometimes you let go a little bit,” she says.
“Always tie down the airplane first,” Ramona
says, in case the wind picks up. “Second, set
up the tent.” She puts her tent close to her
airplane, but not tucked underneath; the
noise of rain dripping off the wing onto the
tent fly will eventually drive you nuts, she
says, but put it close enough to run to if you
Greg Laslo, EAA 9004198, is a writer, editor, and
National Outdoor Leadership School graduate in
Kansas City, Missouri.