Views from 7500: The Saddest Sight In Aviation

The saddest sight in aviation… is a closed airport.

Fort Collins Downtown Airport Is No More

This runway belonged to the Fort Collins Downtown Airport, whose closure was planned awhile ago. Can you just make out the big yellow X painted at the near end of the runway, just before the numbers? That means “Runway Closed – Don’t Land Here.”

And you shouldn’t. You may think that it just got shut down administratively, but for all you know there are big holes in the paving that you won’t notice until your landing roll. Then you’ll notice ’em all right. General aviation aficionados may remember that back in 2003, the then-Mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley, “settled” a dispute concerning Meigs Field–keep the airport open or replace it with a park?–by sending heavy construction vehicles out in the dead of night to destroy the runway. What kept this action from being life-threatening on top of exceedingly undemocratic was that the stealthy destruction team made their ruts in the shape of highly visible Xs.

Anyway. Fort Collins. I was gonna consider flying there, dang it, back on the 13th when me and a friend went to Charles de Lint‘s book-signing at The Book Rack. Google Maps put the bookstore at a 4 mile drive from the airfield, and surely the airport would have had shuttle service! If it were still open. My first hint: their old web page was dead. My second hint: my sectional map showed a big red X in a circle where older versions had shown the airport. It’s gone, folks–and I never got a chance to land there!


Anyway. After the jump: lots more aerial photography (of a more cheerful nature) chronicling Saturday’s cross-country flight from Boulder to Cheyenne. Includes the requisite corn maze. Clicky-clicky.

So. Cheyenne is an extremely simple cross-country flight. It’s one of the first they take you on when you’re a student pilot. It goes something like this: Follow I-25 north. After about half an hour you will reach the end of the world…

It's the end of the world!

…a.k.a. Colorado north of, say, Wellington. Keep going north. In a few minutes you’ll come in sight of a wind farm sitting upon a bit of a rise:

Windmills on the border

These are just south of the state line and, more importantly, about 10 miles south of Cheyenne. When you pass them, it’s a good time to establish two-way communications with the airport tower.

Aim for the middle of the big green splotch on the horizon, which is the city. Eventually the city starts looking sorta crescenty. The runway is in the “bowl” of the crescent.

(OK, I guess you could just tune in your navigational aids to the 179 radial of the Casper VOR. But then you don’t get to say things like “past the end of the world” and “crescenty.”)

ZOMG! Toy guns in an airport! Alert TSA!So that’s Cheyenne/Jerry Olsen Field. And it’s a real airport and everything, of the sort that people take actual Joe-Schmoe commercial flights out of. Only it’s tiny. Teeny tiny teeny. I think it’s even tinier than Medford’s airport (southern Oregon), and that’s saying something. You can walk right off the airport grounds into miles of residential nowhere. Bring a picnic lunch and walk over to Lions Park. Bring a foldy bike and go for a ride.

Or you can be boring like me and just have brunch at the airport diner. It’s called El Charrito, and it’s really yummy, and there’s free wi-fi because the airport is nicer than DIA that way.

Right outside the diner is a little arcade. By which I mean, three arcade games shoved into a corner. Dig Dug and Ms. Pac-man in classic table-top style, and a stand-up box called “Code Wolf” that has ZOMG! TOY GUNS IN AN AIRPORT! CALL THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY! so you can shoot at the bad guys on the screen.

But that’s all in Wyoming, and this is supposedly a blog about the Denver area. So we’ll end with what everyone’s been waiting for…

Corn Maze!

…a corn maze. It’s on the north edge of Wellington, I think, along I-25. I couldn’t make out a farm name, just the dude with the trophy and the big number 7 and the bit about “2003-2008” and “5th Anniversary”. But as it turns out, it’s the Denver Rescue Mission‘s Harvest Farm Maze (click on the “Farm Map” link to see a clearer depiction of the maze design).

2 Comments so far

  1. Christian (unregistered) on September 27th, 2007 @ 12:03 am

    Charles de Lint was here?!?!?!?!?!

    This makes me incredibly sad. I can’t believe I missed the chance to meet him. I’m finishing The Wild Wood right now and have Someplace To Be Flying next in the queue.

    Sorry … this had nothing to do with your post. hahah

  2. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (unregistered) on September 27th, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

    I’m so sorry – I should have blogged about it here before it happened! I don’t know why I didn’t except that maybe I lost my mind. He was at The Book Rack at 2 on the 13th, and then at LoDo Tattered Cover that evening.

    It was sort of amazing watching The Book Rack squeezing an author Q&A and signing into their tiny space. We sorta all sat around a card table and chatted.

    Maryanne wasn’t there, and no spontaneous folk-singing performances broke out. But someone did ask him what music he listens to when he writes (answer: depends on which character’s point of view is current).

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