Idaho '04 by Rob 'Smokey' Ray

July 2004

There I was, flat on my back, stall 3 with no toilet paper, looked in my wallet, all I had was a five...

OK, to start with, like any cool trip it always starts late and the go decision is at the last minute. With another trip to Iraq looming in one month, I decided to enjoy a trip to the mountains before I left, my 14th trip to the Idaho backcountry.

I blasted off from Skyranch, a grass strip near Crestview FL at 7AM CST, and didn't stop until I was in Mtn Home Idaho, 10.8 hours later. is awesome, every fuel stop was as advertised and I didn't pay more than $2.20 a gallon for 100LL. In Syracuse KS, the shack next to the pumps has a book that read "The pumps are unlocked, leave your name and address and tail number and amount # gallons, the keys are in the blue Crown Vic outside"...gotta love America!  In Pueblo, CO, you get a free burger with fillup at the self-serve.

I went direct to ID from FL, right over the Rockies at 14.5 making 150 knots GS all day going NW. What a view over CO, I didn't see another airplane for 350 miles, in fact only one or two all day. I lost my mag over Twin Falls ID, only 60 miles from my planned destination so the Bandit was down until I could change the mag. Jeff Roses ignition is so good, I didn't even notice at first. I keep a Mag, starter, prop, alternator and tools in boxes at home just in case things like this happen. I called a neighbor and my spare mag was on it's way the next day. I ended up leaving the Bandit for (2) days while (2) F-16 buddies of mine, Rob Norris and Tim Turner (Rob is building an RV8), became would-be river guides and rafted the lower portion of the Payette river on a garage sale raft and (2) inflatable kayaks. It rocked.

When I got back to Mtn Home I spent the better part of an afternoon replacing my mag but I couldn't have done it without an A&P leaving me his shop keys and use of all his! The bendix mag worked great and by 5 PM I launched for Johnson Creek looking for my Harmon Rocket buddy, Dale Stanley. When he wasn't at JC, I landed at McCall and got his itinerary from his daughter back in CA and found him at my favorite strip in the backcountry "strip x"...awesome. I had to cross the entire state of ID to get there after finding out where he was and got there and landed in the last light of the day at 10 PM after many victory rolls over the canyon, Dales HRII was there, the only sign of civilization for 80 miles! The camping was awesome, wolves howled in the distance all night and cutthroat trout were biting early the next morning. We broke camp at 10 and headed for Johnson Creek to camp for the night, However, I had other plans, dinner at a restaurant with friends in McCall. There I saw three RV's all headed for Moose Creek. After a great meal, I headed for JC with fresh beers in hand and again, an awesome night of camping.

My buddy Trout showed up from Arlington the next day in his 160HP RV4 and filled us in on Arlington, as we watched the fire glow until the wee hours... The next day was sad, time to cross the USA, again...We broke camp to a cool morning, 27 degrees and frost all over the Bandit. Lori of told me "you rope frost off the wings with a cotton rope till it's smooth....yep it works. Trout (former Navy F-16N pilot) and I did a formation takeoff at JC and turned back up the valley for a formation fly-over and salute to all the folks camped there...then the long flight home.

Trout split off for Boise and SAN, I continued to Mtn Home solo, fuel and a surprise meeting with an RV8 friend over Mtn Home who was coming home from Arlington as well...He's is an F16 pilot out of Salt Lake...  The flight home took just under 10 hours with a stop at Bob Olds little strip in AR, I love it! Bob built the third RV4 way back when and has a dream house, a runway that is his backyard! I landed at Montgomery, AL at 10:30 PM
and was flying the F16 the next day as a guard guy...

One day out, one day back...176 gallons of gas total...only in an RV!!

For you Idaho wannabe's it is the prettiest place this side of Alaska and some awesome flying however, you need to think about mountain flying if you are a flatlander. I recommend getting some training with Lori at

Have Fun!

Rob Ray - [smokyray at]