Friday, June 19, 2015

Airplane Camping at Orcas Island Airport

Summer is almost here and pilots are always looking for interesting destinations to try out. When Wayne and I fly our Piper Arrow 997, we like to go places where we can set up a tent and spend the night sleeping under the wing of our airplane. One of our avourite airplane camping spots is in the San Juan Islands of the Pacific Northwest at Orcas Island Airport (KORS).

On our last trip, we landed on Runway 34 with a slight headwind. The runway is 2900 feet in length, plenty of room even for our cityfolk Piper Arrow.

There's a small terminal, but it's only open when a commercial commuter flight is scheduled. But if you go around to the front of the building there's a pilot's conference room that may be open. Inside you will find space for flight planning, free WiFi, and a restroom. 

If you're coming on a day trip, park at the southeast corner. This is closest location to the exit gate and trail towards the town of Eastsound.

If you want to camp, go the large grass tiedown area midfield on the east side. It's well maintained with clearly marked parking spots, some with hooks to attach your own ropes. There's a portable toilet next to the self-serve fuel building.

Overnight parking is just $6 including camping. And don't be surprised if the airport manager stops by to see how things are going. Check out the airport website. Since we were last there's a restroom, shower and BBQ available.

When we fly to Orcas, we like to walk the well marked trail to the village of Eastsound for dinner.

Last time we decided to try the Madrona Bar and Grill. It's right on the water with a quaint atmosphere and a fabulous view down the u-shaped sound to the south. Since we were spending the night, I could enjoy a Mac and Jacks with our leisurely meal on the deck.

We walked back to the airport for a quiet night of reading in the tent. All went well until the wind picked up in the early hours of morning, rattling the tent. We took the loose rain fly off, allowing us to sneak in a few more winks before packing up.

Rather than walking back to town for breakfast, we flew south to Port Townsend to eat at the Spruce Goose Cafe. It was a great outing for 997 in the skies over Puget Sound, and her owners alike.

Want to read more about flying destinations in the Pacific Northwest?  Check out Wayne's book Flying the Pacific Northwest. It's available in print and Kindle formats from Amazon.

It's also available from many other online book vendors. -- Margy