NPS attempting to close airstrip at Stovepipe Wells

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by AA5Bman, Nov 29, 2020.

  1. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    I found a duplicate post in “cool places to fly”, but since that is a dead zone, I wanted to get this in front of the broader audience:

    The National Park Service is attempting to close the Stovepipe Wells airstrip in Death Valley. This is a unique and historic airstrip that allows access to the heart of the park, and absolutely worth preserving. We love Death Valley - amazing place - and we should band together to preserve this asset.

    if you have any interest in preserving airstrips, please submit comments in support at the link below!!

    https://parkplanning.nps.gov/docume...oBDhnnYkFqh5l0LUqMllUedvGQJTvu_xh0NuK5a2yu0SQ
     
  2. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Done. An airstrip isn't incompatible with a night-viewing area. And they propose paving the road, so more people can camp- that will harm night-viewing more than a few airplanes.
     
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  3. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I commented
     
  4. Kelvin

    Kelvin En-Route

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    I commented. Closing that strip is VERY short sighted...
     
  5. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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  6. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    The logic for closing that airstrip is the most asinine thing and I'm not surprised that a government bureaucracy is the one suggesting it

    "Night sky viewing area" ?? the entire freaking park is a night sky viewing area. To turn that into a designated viewing area defeats the entire purpose, as noted above by other posters

    Also, how much can it possibly cost to keep these tiny air strips in the middle of nowhere open..?? We have bigger fish to fry than worrying about this, of all things
     
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  7. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    As I commented on the NPS site, the issue is that the main existing night-sky viewing area nearby, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, is poorly managed (but it isn't like NPS has a bunch of extra staff there to do much else with it). Opening up the airport for night-sky viewing would just create the same problems somewhere else.
     
  8. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Yup!
     
  9. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Looks like they let the runway degrade and now it's going to take some coin to make it right.
    So they spin closing the airport as a 'positive' in order to dodge their responsibility, avoid some expense.

    http://airnav.com/airport/L09
    "Surface: asphalt, in poor condition
    PAVEMENT HEAVING; EXTREMELY ROUGH SFC."
     
  10. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Google earth does better pavement than 5b7 where I have landed. It’s pavement is in super crappy shape, but no reason to close it.
     
  11. rtk11

    rtk11 Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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  12. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    In fairness, that is probably one of the most challenging locations, climate-wise, to keep an asphalt runway in good condition.
     
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  13. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Harder than a wet winter climate? I understand that heat is an issue, but there are different grades of bitumen and different mixes for the asphalt paving that are suited to certain temperature ranges and conditions. If they can have heavy jet traffic at Phoenix and Cairo, the paving should have no problem handling light GA at Stovepipe.

    Frost, ice, and water sure seem to rip up more roads in the north than they do down south. I can't imagine that the road paving crews down in Death Valley use the same paving mix as other places as there are hundreds of miles of roads in the area that see similar conditions, in addition to all over Arizona.

    I only see one or two days where the low temperature dipped below 32 in the winter, but certainly little chance for there to be sufficient water in the pavement to cause any sort of frost heaving. Obviously a lot of days above 100 (up to 115+) in the summer. But this overall temperature range is less than the range of temps we see in New York (-10 to 105) combined with large amount of ice and snow, salt, etc to damage and crack the roads over winter.
     
  14. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    It is more like a lot of days of 125F+. Yes, you can engineer pavement to handle that well, but you have to look at the cost/benefit of doing it for just a few operations per day. Regardless of water content, there are also extreme temperature ranges on many days. And the rain. It doesn't come often, but when it does, it is sometimes in extreme flooding events. The runway is basically on the slope at the base of a mountain, so sheet flow is a thing.
     
  15. TheFB

    TheFB Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Commented on the site. The night viewing replacement is crazy.
     
  16. UngaWunga

    UngaWunga Pattern Altitude

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  17. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    As an amateur astronomer and a pilot, I can say that a bunch of cars on the ground is much more annoying that a few planes in the air.
     
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  18. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Isn't the load bearing surface for heavy jet traffic runways usually made of concrete?
     
  19. Tusayan

    Tusayan Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I was there in early March and the runway looked in reasonable condition. Furnace Creek was worse, and marginal. NPS would like to close both airports as a response to 21st century ‘environmental’ fashion. In 1970 a light aircraft was considered a great benefit to getting people to either location, today its NPS virtue signaling to remove the airports. They serve an ideal of their own creation, not the ‘unenlightened’ masses who pay their salaries.

    Wherever somebody mentions cost of upkeep for a 1 mile asphalt runway, I point out the cost of upkeep for the hundreds and hundreds of miles of asphalt roads leading to it. It’s in the noise.
     
  20. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I still think ice is much harder on pavement overall. I doubt you will find people from the north say their roads are better than those down south.
    In researching info for this thread, I read an article about asphalt and bitumen paving in which they specifically mentioned re-paving Cairo, Egypt airport with asphalt runway paving. So concrete is certainly not a requirement, even in extreme hot weather climates.
     
  21. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    I specifically avoid the common viewing areas. A bunch of actual amateurs with headlamps, lanterns, cell phone lights, etc., usually someone in their car with the headlights on.. totally ruins it. We found a great spot with a few friends once, my friend had his long exposure camera set up doing one of those cool swoopy overnight shots, and around 2AM someone walks by with their headlamp on and basically ruined the shot

    Also.. I thought these airports were NA for night

    Also.. there's maybe 1-3 planes that stop by airports like this on average during any given day. When we were at furnace creek last year outside of our group of 6 planes there was just one bonanza over the 3 days we were there that stopped in.. hardly a distraction.. and you couldn't even hear the planes from the the camp area or any of the common sites like badwater basin, etc

    Anyway, I submitted my feedback as well. Pointed out the catch-22 of a designated night viewing area (especially when the whole park is a night viewing area, badwater basin was downright busy at midnight last year when we were there) among other things. We'll see. It's probably just lip service and they'll close it anyway. I'm not doing a 6 hr drive, so they'll miss out on our group's revenue next time
     
  22. IK04

    IK04 En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The last time I went to Stovepipe Wells The runway was now the parking lot. It used to be a short walk across the street to the store for a drink.

    Now there is a big, paved runway way out to the Northwest and the store has moved to the other side of the road.

    What fun is that?
     
  23. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    I commented. I'm linking others to it as well.
     
  24. GRG55

    GRG55 Final Approach Gone West

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    Cairo is not an extreme hot climate. It's a Mediterranean climate, not much different from Beirut or Cyprus.
    Extreme hot is Dubai or Bahrain (50 C daytime highs are common in summer) or maybe Phoenix, AZ? :)

    Interesting to hear there are bitumen and asphalt mixes that can deal with high ambient temperatures, but the issue with commercial air traffic is load bearing during the landings of these heavy airplanes. During the Cairo repaving, did the article say specifically that the concrete base was entirely removed, or was it a resurfacing using asphalt on top of the concrete? I'd be surprised if the former, particularly since Egypt has a massive internal concrete industry sector.

    I live in a cold weather climate. Despite that all the commercial runways in this region are concrete base, with some of the older ones having asphalt resurfacing on top.
     
  25. AA5Bman

    AA5Bman Line Up and Wait

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    Happy to see everyone commenting/participating. With a couple posts and emails, I bet I have occasioned 30-50 people to provide their comments, I hope you all will do the same.

    In case you don’t think the comments matter, in the Death Valley NPS “visitor guide”, they claim they take comments seriously and changed course on a recent action because “more than 300 people” commented in support regarding off-highway vehicles. I think we can do better than 300, in which case they will be in the awkward position of contradicting their own stated request for public comment.
     
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  26. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    FWIW, I have found that government agencies take non-bat-s__t crazy comments seriously. Something to be mindful of, try to keep a professional tone to comment. Don't assume that everyone at the agency necessarily agrees with a proposed action, sometimes they are out-voted internally, but if public comments are well-stated and take a reasoned approached, the agency will change their mind or find a middle-ground.
     
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  27. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    There are no runway lights and therefore no flight operations should be occurring between sunset and sunrise. I did comment and pointed out that the airport does not impact night viewing.

    Airnav says 83 flight operations/month on average. I think that translates to around 1250 visitors, which would be about 10% of the total.
     
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  28. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 En-Route

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    I commented.
     
  29. thebruce

    thebruce Pre-Flight

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    I could easily see this being the case here, where NPS bureaucrats in DC want one thing while the more freedom-minded rangers in the park itself want another.
     
  30. Adam

    Adam Filing Flight Plan

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    Hey anyone know if it's safe to fly into stovepipe wells. i know that at furnace there is a notam for heaving dueto salts rising up through the runway. but afd for stovepipe doesn't have dour warnings like furnace creeks. so just asking for any advice. thanks much.
     
  31. mr_happyland

    mr_happyland Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I flew in earlier this year. It’s in fine condition. Don’t forget to sign the guest book. The more proof people are using the airstrip the better.
     
  32. Adam

    Adam Filing Flight Plan

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    ok i'll definitely sign. And thanks for the airport pirep. ha ha. helps to know.
     
  33. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I think the point also needs to be made that emergency landing strips are sparse in that area, and federal agencies should not be in the business of reducing their number even further, regardless of traffic levels.
     
  34. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route PoA Supporter

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    While I fully support keeping Stovepipe Wells open (and submitted a comment to NPS on this), if I have an emergency over Death Valley, Highways 190 and 127 have plenty of straight stretches with little traffic that I wouldn't hesitate to use.
     
  35. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    You are no doubt correct. But when dealing with politicians and their partisans, truth doesn't seem to matter.
     
  36. Adam

    Adam Filing Flight Plan

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    Was just there. Loved the flight though tricky a couple points. December is the right time to go in terms of wether at L09. I linked some pics. Log book looks pretty active (or more then i thought it would be). I'd say runway was good. Couple bumps and tiny tumble weeds but was fine. Such an inspiring flight.
     

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  37. Adam

    Adam Filing Flight Plan

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    Hey if anyone is interested... i contact the NPS to offer a public opinon. Apparently they will open again for public commment. See below:

    Hello, Adam,

    The public comment period that expired was the the initial one. We will have a second (final) 30-day public comment period, likely beginning mid-to-late January.

    Thanks!
    -Abby

    Abby Wines
    Management Analyst
    Death Valley National Park
    abby_wines@nps.gov
    Office: 760-786-3221
     
  38. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 En-Route

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    One wonders if they didn't like the results of the first go round, and are hoping for a different outcome?

    Gosh, I'm cynical, ain't I?
     
  39. mr_happyland

    mr_happyland Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m glad you reached out but take that response with a grain of salt. I got an email from her back in April saying the 2nd comment period was going to begin in July.
     
  40. Captain Sweet T

    Captain Sweet T Pre-Flight

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