N393A Visits Chicken Strip

This set of photos came from Elizabeth Collins, along with her comments, telling of another adventure with N393A.

Chicken Strip is a little dirt strip in the Saline Valley, which is in Death Valley National Park (45 miles SE of Bishop). It is at 1360' elevation, and is about 1300' in length. Good slope to it - you land uphill and take off downhill. It is in reasonably good condition (for a dirt strip), but there are some whoop-de-do's that will get your attention if you have tiny little Mooney Mite wheels/tires. Oh, and don't be confused by the "Hero Strip" a.k.a. the "Taildragger Strip." That one is closed and is clearly X'd off.

I DO NOT recommend taking a Mite in there (that's my disclaimer). It's easy in a Husky or 180. If you're going to do it, get all the info you can first, calculate well your t/o requirements with adjustments for density altitude, dirt, slope, etc. There's a wind sock next to the runway, believe it or not.

There are hot springs within easy walking distance. Mostly "clothing optional" folks around, so don't be surprised. (All photos taken February 4, 2007).

Early morning in Truckee: as I pulled N393A out of the hangar, 11+ balloons were launching. Really pretty.

I had to wait to take off until one cleared the runway - nothing like a little obstacle dodging.

Mono Lake was a picture of perfection as I passed by on the way to Bishop, CA. We planned a stop in BIH to make sure we met up (we left from different airports) and to check fuel. I expected to add fuel, but the Mite was sipping so slowly that I left my 5gal can with the friendly folks at BIH. I wanted to be light taking off from the dirt strip and 8 gal was plenty to fly from BIH to Saline, then on to Furnace Creek if I decided not to land, and back to BIH.

My flying friend and co-adventurer C-150 Dave landed first at the Chicken Strip, then walked the runway with his handheld, giving me details of the lumps and bumps while I circled out to the west. From what he told me and what I saw (from watching his landing and dragging the strip twice), I decided to give it a go - land center, move left, move center, move left. Much like running a rapid in a whitewater kayak. N393A made a beautiful landing, and while the nose did bounce on the bumps, all was good. Parked up top was a Husky and the C-150. There was some surprise and amusement from the other folks when they saw the mighty Mooney Mite Bush Plane, parked next to her flying pal, the C-150 Bush Plane.

The hot springs are wonderful. While over at the lower springs, a C-180 landed. Busy day at Chicken Strip International! (photo is of Crystal Springs and C-180 Jon, a good friend of Mike Magnani, N4094).

Faithful flying companion C-150 Dave Barrett and I spent a few hours relaxing in the hot springs, visiting with other pilots and non-pilots and berating ourselves for not making arrangements to camp for the night. The couple in the Husky had planned to leave that day, but conditions were so perfect they decided to camp another night. Not an uncommon occurrence in such a beautiful spot.

I took off first (after walking the runway), expecting the whoop-de-do's to launch me before N393A was ready to fly, and they didn't disappoint. I thought the second bump would launch my plane and I'd touch down again. My little bird said "enough of this earthbound stuff!!" and with the catapult of the 2nd bump she was airborne and flying well before the end of the runway. A quick pass by the springs to wave goodbye to our new friends and we headed North... until the next visit.