Oh the lure of a grass runway: One of GA’s Best Kept Secrets

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sod runwayOne my favorite things to do is land on a nice grass runway. There is something about it that almost makes it seem like a guilty pleasure.

No TSA, no metal detectors, no sequestration-impacted-control-towers, and rarely any fences, and certainly no barbed wire! It is flying in the most organic sense of the word.

My first grass airport landing with in El Reno, OK. at Gibson Aviation. There’s a famous cylinder repair facility there and they have a runway right outside of their shop – as it should be. I had 137 hours in my logbook. My vessel was the veritable C-152 and I remember it well. Most of all I remember thinking how cool it was to fly an airplane like the pioneers did it so long ago.

The reality is grass runways have several advantages over their paved counterparts.
  • Less wear on tires and brakes
  • Directional control is easier
  • Touch down are smoother
  • Stopping distances are shorter
  • It’s cool! Eddie Richenbacker and the Red Baron did it that way
  • If its an omnidirectional field you don’t have to mess with those pesky crosswinds
grass strip

my rv loves the grass

We have to accept the bad with the good:
  • Longer takeoff roll (more rolling friction)
  • If it isn’t smooth, wear and tear on the aircraft
  • Not always suitable for aircraft with less than robust undercarriages
  • Depth perception can suffer due to lack of markings
  • They can be hard to see depending on local terrain and/or direction of flight
crash landing
In a previously published article I discussed having your own grass strip. (article here)
No matter if you live on grass, base your airplane on grass, or just frequent grass strips, it’s a beautiful experience.
Some of the more famous grass strips are (with links):
  • Lee Bottom, IN – 64I
  • Broadhead, WI – C37
  • Rough River state park, KY – 2I3
  • Triple Tree, SC – SC00
  • Johnson Creek, ID – 3U2

There are thousands of grass strips out there, many are unlisted afraid of the spectre of liability – thank you U.S. Court System!

If you have a favorite grass strip, please reply below with a comment.
If you have never been on grass, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. All disclaimers apply; some grass strips can be challenging, especially in the mountains.

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