Flying to Glenn's Ferry and Y Knot Winery for Lunch

Flying to Glenn's Ferry and Y Knot Winery for Lunch

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It’s been a while since I’ve done any sort of blog posts on flying. This is largely because I haven’t been doing much flying the past few years. Between Covid and the weather this year (which has been {windy, insanely hot, heavy smoke}, mostly pick two)… it hasn’t been good flying weather.

However, last weekend, we had some good fall weather with nothing else going on, so, $200 hamburger time!

The $100 $200 hamburger

Previously, the “$100 hamburger” was the term for flying somewhere for lunch, mostly as an excuse to go flying. With the cost of everything lately, to include avgas (or automotive gas if you have the STC), that’s now closer to $200 for any sane trip, so… yay inflation. Probably not transitory either.

But, you pretty much pick an airport that has food nearby, fly there, eat said food, and fly back. There are plenty of little airports that have restaurants somewhere near them, and if you pick a popular one on a good day, you’ll often find the start of a perfectly good fly-in!

Unfortunately, my standard burger place (down in Murphy, ID) no longer exists. Sometime during Covid Year 1, the general store closed, and that was where I liked to fly for burgers. However, there’s no shortage of other places, and we tried out Glenn’s Ferry this time, which is definitely somewhere I’ll go again!

Flight Planning, or not…

One of the absolutely great things about general aviation, which tends to surprise a lot of people, is just how casual it really is. Yes, it’s aviation, yes, you’d better take your preflight seriously, but… beyond that, it’s sort of what you make of it. For a long cross country IFR trip, yeah. Plan hard. For a short day trip jaunt over for lunch, flying over flat desert on a severe clear day, make sure you’re not going to run short of fuel, but otherwise, you can pretty much fly it as you see fit. Avoid any controlled airspace without talking to the people in charge, don’t fly through any restricted areas that are active, maybe skip the MOAs if they’re active, and otherwise, you really can just pick a path and go. If something looks interesting, go look at it. And, if you’re going to be around mountains, fly the terrain. Don’t just bulldoze a straight magenta line across a mountain range. Not only is it safer to do things like flying the upwind side, it’s an awful lot more fun (and potentially a good bit more efficient). Ridge lift is just sweet…

For this trip, I knew where we were going. I had two independent nav systems that could get us there (iPad/Foreflight, and the Garmin 430 in the plane), plus a paper map backup. The flight plan was, “Go that way, avoid Boise’s Class C (or go under it), and go find the airport. Coming back, maybe follow the river for a while.” And we did just that! My trace for the route back didn’t end up recording, for some reason, and I’m not actually sure how to get the overlay on a sectional chart. I suppose I should just take screenshots in the future…

Let’s Go Flying!

If I’m going flying, especially with my family, I like to get to the airport early (by myself). Rushed preflights tend to miss things, it was cool enough that I really needed to preheat the engine, and it’s just nice to be able to spend time around airplanes. Also, it means I can take care of stuff like fueling up before kids are around. Yes, they like airplanes too, but it’s best not to stretch their patience. So, I got there, unlocked the hanger, got the engine heaters working (there’s a little electric heater feeding a dryer hose that shoves hot air around the cylinders, plus an electric block/sump heater), preflighted things, checked the gas (27 gallons - good for about 3 hours full throttle, 4+ pulled back), got the plane out, and let the engine warm up. It takes a bit, especially in cooler weather, to get the oil temperatures up into the green, and there’s just no good reason to go flying with cold oil (which means a cold engine). I’m trying to be better about this with the Urals too, since they have basically the same engine technology.

The rest of the family arrived, I shut down, we loaded car seats into the back of the plane, got everyone strapped in, and were on our way!

If it’s Smooth, Enjoy It!

A major perk of small aircraft is that you can fly low enough to see stuff out the windows. In the afternoon, the air down low can be quite rough from thermals, but in the morning, if it’s smooth and you’re not in a hurry, just enjoy it! You’re required to keep enough altitude to glide to a safe landing (in theory), but otherwise, you can legally go potting around 1000’ or so above the ground. I’m not a fan of quite that low, but we cruised around 1500’ above ground level (4000’ MSL) on the way out for a while. Eventually, it started getting rough, so I climbed a bit, but if you’re out for a Sunday drive, figuratively, enjoy the sky. No need to cram the redline, either. We were turning about 2400 RPM, doing around 110mph through the air. It was an absolutely beautiful morning, and we saw all the solar fields. No, really. There are a wonderfully insane number of solar fields out around us, and I keep finding new ones.

This is Idaho Solar 1, at Cloverdale and Barker. It’s 40MWac, and opened in 2016.

Just a hair northeast is Orchard Ranch Solar, 20MWac, opened in 2017.

Continuing east, there’s the Mountain Home Solar Farm at 20MWac, between the interstate and the Mountain Home municipal airport.

Glenn’s Ferry Airport (U89)

Little airports like Glenn’s Ferry are on the back country CATF frequency, so you just announce you’re coming in, join the traffic pattern (the FAA has strongly discouraged straight in approaches recently, so I try to abide by that), land, and go figure out where to park. Usually, there’s some sort of marked spot for transient airports to tie down. Here… well, no. We just found something sort of flat and not obviously in the way, which works fine. There’s not even a taxiway along the whole runway, so you might need to turn around on the runway and backtaxi to where you want to go. Just talk on the radio, if anyone else is around. If you don’t have a radio (which you don’t need, though probably should have), use your eyeballs, and other people probably will too.

The runway is 3000’ long, 60’ wide, and was actually repaved between this satellite photo and our trip. The rest of the airport, not so much. It’s pretty standard for a tiny little airstrip out around here.

We found a spot… and I swear this is pavement under the weeds.

One of these years, I’ll remember to pack a tripod for family shots at random airports, but until then, my wife excels at finding random things to prop a camera up on!

Heading to Lunch

Most airports with a fence have some sort of gate to get out. We found the gate… but it was locked. There’s a stile over the fence nearby to get over, but it was more than a tiny bit concerning looking, so we just went out through the gate! Easier for them than for me, and I really do expect there’s a man gate somewhere - I just don’t know where it was. Oh well!

One properly vintage airport sign, complete with a bit of peeling vinyl lettering from the sun out here.

The winery is about half a mile from the airport, down one of the more deserted roads you’ll ever see near an airport. The madness of O’Hare, LAX, or really any major airport is nowhere to be found here (“The loading zone is for loading and unloading only…”). Just a field of onions on the left and a state park on the right. Plus two high energy kids running down the road!

Past a small state park on the river and a few houses, you’ll find the Y Knot Winery. It’s a golf course as well, but never having worked in an industry where playing golf is important, I don’t play. I’ve messed around with some golf simulators that tell me I suck at golf, and I believe them!

Past the grapes up the driveway…

You find a very nice stone building that has the restaurant and a bunch of other stuff!

Lunch: Get the Clam Chowder!

No, really. If you’re there on a Friday, or any other day they have clam chowder, get a bowl. It is absolutely delicious. Otherwise, they’ve got a decent selection of food, and this is their selection/prices as of Oct 2021. I’m sure prices and availability are subject to change, but this should give you an idea as to what sort of things you can find. Personally, I would argue their chef’s salad is a bit more of a Cobb salad, but it’s still quite good!

They’ve got a gift shop up front with plenty of their wine, and various other interesting things - we picked up some spices and bottles of wine for gifts for various people. May as well, if you’re there!

Flying Back

Coming back… yeah, little airstrip in the middle of nowhere. Windsock, runway, a couple run down hangers, and a Cessna parked randomly in the middle of it. I love places like this! Unfortunately, not too many people like places like this, so a lot of them are closing. Support your local airport, please!

There is a crew car. I just don’t know the magic incantations to get into it or get through the gate. Old Crown Vic with slightly low tires and worn paint? Perfect!

And, on our way back, yet more solar! Seriously, I love how much solar is going up around here - we’ve got a great area for it!

I’m hoping to be able to do a bit more flying next year. There are a lot more fun little airports I can stop in and explore - and that’s without getting into some of the back country flying (little gravel strips in the mountains). Eventually, I’ll get myself checked out into a few of those (there’s a club checkout process for them, reasonably, as many of them are one way, no go-around sort of places), and open up even more fun little places to go for a lunch!


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