There are two things virtually every pilot I’ve ever spoken has indicated he would love to do: Live on a residential airpark with his airplane in a connecting hangar, and climb into his aircraft and explore the backcountry strips that dot our country, particularly in the West.
Well, Capt. Harry B. Hardin doesn’t live on a residential airpark, but he did climb into his 1956 Cessna 180 and head out for the experience of a lifetime. The result of that three month-trip is his new book, “West by 180.”
An airline pilot by profession, Hardin didn’t take very many chances. He had lots of experience plus he talked with experts in mountain flying and particularly in the places he planned to visit. He knew his plane in and out and he didn’t push weather, himself or his plane.
The end result is a book describing flights into airstrips in valleys and on mountains, next to rivers in canyons where the runways disappeared until short final and in weather where altitude and high temperatures made him offload equipment to make sure he could get off the ground safely.
Most of the unique strips are in the west: Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Hardin describes camping out where the only sounds are the river nearby and the animals. He did a lot of fishing, mostly catch and release, but he wrote that some that he did eat were among the best meals he’s ever enjoyed.
Everywhere he journeyed he found friendly FBOs, loaner cars and wonderful times.
Hardin’s book isn’t going to win any prizes for writing, but he tells his tales in language anyone can understand. I found his repeated spelling out of common aviation terms over and over again irritating. Just put in a simple list of the terms, rather than repeating them multiple times in the book.
If you’re one who wants to visit backcountry strips reading Hardin’s book can take you there easily. If you decide to make the trip, the book will offer you some good tips.
Want your own copy? Order it from Harry Hardin, 1752 E. Beasley Rd., English, Ind., 47118. Call 812-338-3845 or e-mail: captainHBH@aol.com. Books are $16, plus shipping.