One late spring day in 1999 I was headed on a work trip to southern Colorado in my Cessna Turbo 310R airplane and decided to spend the weekend on my return trip mountain biking in New Mexico. After my work week (I believe it was in Durango) I stopped in at Angel Fire, NM late one evening. The airport was unattended and it was late evening, just an hour before sunset, so rather than ride my bike and and then camp, I decided I would just camp under the wing of my airplane and then hit the trails the next morning. I have done that many times all over small rural airports across the USA. So I pitched my tent under the wing of my Cessna and thought all was well. The temps were dropping quickly when about an hour after dark, a self-important airport manager drove up and informed me I couldn’t sleep under the wing of my airplane or anywhere on the airport for that matter. He didn’t have a good reason why other than “you can’t do that”. It was pitch dark and about 35 degrees by then. What was I supposed to do, break camp, load up on my mountain bike, and ride into the inky darkness hoping I could find another place to stay? I didn’t really want to launch my airplane into the darkness with mountains all around. I probably could have filed a flight plan and left out
IFR but I was tired and didn’t really feel like flying late that night. So I did what a good Englishman would do and told him to “piss off” or or something to that effect. Actually that was what I WANTED to tell him, but instead I just ignored him and stayed put.
A couple of hours later a policeman and a whole gaggle of other folks showed up again, informing me I couldn’t camp under the wing of my airplane. I could either leave or spend the night in jail. Wankers. But not having many options, I packed up my gear to leave. The policeman was nice enough to offer me a ride to a nearby campsite. I got there around 1 AM and had to set up my tent once again in freezing cold weather. Nighttime temps in the Rockies drop pretty quickly.
So I finally got to sleep and spent the cold night in my warm sleeping bag. Got up the next morning, loaded up my bike and gear, and spent the day riding all around Angel Fire. I was not in such a good mood and really upset with the wanker airport manager and swore never to buy avgas at Angel Fire again unless I was desperate. I did have fun riding my mountain bike but the trails were only mediocre – nothing like the great mountain biking trails in Durango. But still it was a fun adventure except for the airport dude.
Leave a Reply