The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

October 24, 2012

Backcountry pilots make stop in West Virginia

FAYETTEVILLE — A group of backcountry/off-airport pilot enthusiasts recently made a visit to West Virginia.

It’s a pilgrimage some hope to turn into an annual event.

Several pilots associated with Ohio Bush Planes flew into Fayette County last week, hosted by the Wild Blue Adventure Company in Fayetteville. The pilots had recently been among the 85 participants in a annual fly-in hosted by John Graham at Adams Mills, Ohio, which is about 60 miles east of Columbus.

While most of the pilots hadn’t visited West Virginia, Graham himself has extensive ties to the Mountain State. He used to own a 20-acre tract of land in Fayetteville, and he could be found kayaking and canoeing the area’s rivers in the mid-1970s, he said.

“They would like this to be a fly-in,” Graham said. “It’s such a beautiful area.”

Chris Nesin, a St. Louis, Mo. resident, discussed how the pilots met largely due to their participation on www.supercub.org, an online information exchange and gathering source for the Piper PA-18 Super Cub. In addition to finding information and ideas, the pilots meet for fly-ins such as the one hosted by Graham, or take flights to various locations. In addition to exploring new areas, it helps “to keep your skills as a pilot,” Nesin said.

According to www.wikipedia.org, many of these landing spots for backcountry pilots are “semi-recognizable as runways, maybe on farms, maybe out in the desert, up in the mountains or on river banks.”

Of the more hard-core Alaska bush pilots who are the inspiration for the backcountry pilots, he said, “The pilots in Alaska are something else. They do it for a living and have to land in amazing places to get food (medicine, etc). to people.”

Nesin, who has been active in fly-ins since 2006, enjoyed his visit to West Virginia.

“It’s gorgeous to fly in West Virginia,” said Nesin, whose dog, Lenny Bruce, keeps him company as he rides in the front seat of Nesin’s two-seat plane. “We really want to make this place a new fly-in.

“We want support of the town. We would make a little noise. We would offer rides to people (in addition to further exploring the area).”

Fellow pilot Lou Furlong, a retired FedEx pilot from Atlanta, was also along for the ride.

“This is my first time doing West Virginia backcountry flying, and I’m lovin’ it,” said Furlong, 66, who’s been flying for 50 years and has been involved with Super Cub enthusiasts since 2004.

The www.supercub.org website offers the pilots a good “communication function,” he said, to plan various flying events. “We’ve been all over with our airplanes.”

And now they can add West Virginia to the list.

— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com

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