I finally find it from the ground.
Two years ago, when I was in training to fly helicopter tours at the Grand Canyon, I made daily trips to the Grand Canyon’s old airport out by Red Butte. I don’t know much about the old airport except how to find it from the air. I don’t think its two runways were ever paved.
Oh, yes. It has the remains of a big old hangar on the west side of where the runways were.
I love exploring ruins and remnants of the past. I remembered the hangar last week when Mike, Jack, and I were doing some back-roading in that area. I think we passed near the end of the main runway while driving out toward the Coconino Rim.
Yesterday, while back-roading with Jack southwest side of Grand Canyon National Park, I remembered the old airport again. And since I had to drive right past that area to get back to Howard Mesa, I figured I’d try again to find it.
I won’t go into details about the roads I tried and the wrong turns I took. Suffice it to say that I finally homed in on it. After driving down a two-track road that cut diagonally across the main runway, I parked my Jeep right in front of the gaping hangar door.
It’s a neat old building with a dirt floor and not much else. The shelves are stripped bare and rooms that could have been living quarters show signs of vandalism, including a burned door. There was a picnic table just inside the main door, offering a shady place to have lunch, surrounded by the ghosts of aviation past.
One room in the back corner had fairly new saddle racks attached to the walls; that same room had a Private Property/No Trespassing sign on it from the outside. (Oops!) I guess someone had used it not long ago to store horse tack. There were other buildings nearby that appeared to be in better condition; all of them had the same Private Property signs on them so Jack and I stayed clear. Still, it didn’t appear as if anyone was living there. Since the old airport is in the Kaibab National Forest, I find it hard to believe that anyone would live there. But who knows? The owners of the buildings could have been grandfathered in when the government bought the land.
One thing is for sure: visiting the old airport and looking up at the faded paint over the door spelling out “Grand Canyon Airlines” has given me a real thirst for knowledge about the place. When I’m finished with my road trip book project and trip to Canada (for work), I might start doing a little research.
It would be great to talk to someone who had actually flown there.
Before leaving, I snagged the coordinates with my GPS. Next time I want to find it, I won’t have to wander around until I stumble into it.
[composed on top of a mesa in the middle of nowhere with ecto]