State Warning Airports
|The Oregon Department of Aviation owns and operates 28 airports. Of these, nine have been designated as warning airports. These airports do not meet normal dimensional standards and have conditions that require specific pilot knowledge. They require special techniques and procedures to use safely and may not be usable by many aircraft under normal conditions. |
If you have not flown into Cascade Locks, Crescent Lake, McKenzie Bridge, Owyhee Reservoir, Pacific City, Pinehurst, Santiam Junction, Toledo, or Wakonda Beach recently, we encourage you to contact us at (800) 874-0102 to get the latest information on them.
We also encourage you to use the "sign in" boxes we have at some of the state airports. This allows us to better assess the level of use at some of our smaller airports. If you observe any problems at any of the state airports, please let us know so that we can correct the problem as soon as possible.
For specific questions regarding the State Warning Airports, contact ODA at 800-874-0102 or email@example.com
|Cascade Locks State Airport is a little used but important emergency strip, centrally located in the scenic Columbia Gorge. Many pilots flying through the Gorge in marginal weather and unable to continue VFR have been very grateful to have access to this airport. It has even accommodated a successful forced landing or two. |
The main reason this Cascade Locks is a warning airport is because the runway is only 1800' long and 30' wide. The approach on the west end is clear and is over the Columbia River. The terrain drops off rapidly to the west, so trees aren't a problem. The approach from the east is obstructed by many large trees, and a fairly steep approach is required to land to the west. There is also a road, fence and brush 180' from the east end.
The traffic pattern for Runway 24 is right traffic. Both patterns are to the north, over the river to avoid the mountains to the south. Winds are frequently very strong in the Gorge, and significant turbulence can be expected. The runway is surrounded by trees, so crosswinds can produce extreme low level turbulence and unexpected wind currents.
The turf tiedown area is on the south side in the middle and is not well defined. Use caution when taxiing, as it can be difficult to see the tiedowns if the grass has not been mowed recently.
It is about a one-mile walk into town from the airport. There are several restaurants, motels and tourist attractions. There is an attractive riverside marine part that hosts a sternwheeler during summer months. Bonneville Dam is about 5 miles to the west and Skamania Lodge is just across the river in Washington State.
Crescent Lake State Airport is CLOSED!
|McKenzie Bridge State Airport is about 43 miles east of Eugene in the Cascade foothills and lies just south of Hwy 126. The airport offers easy access to the McKenzie River, and there are two nearby U.S. Forest Service campgrounds. Fly-in camping is allowed on the airport. The tie down area is near the east end on the north side, and there is a pit toilet nearby. There are two Forest Service helipads on the north side near mid-field. The ground here is very rough and uneven and should not be mistaken for the tie down area. A potable water source can be found near the Forest Service area. |
At 2600' long and 90' wide, the airport is not particularly short or narrow for the elevation, but it is surrounded by trees and slopes up to the east at about 3.4%. Because of the slope and the higher terrain and trees on the east end, the runway is one-way only. Landings should not be attempted to the west, nor should take-offs be attempted to the east. The approach area on the west end has been cleared back for 100', but the trees there are more than 120' tall.
The runway is turf and is normally in good condition. It can be soft in the winter, and elk can make the surface rough. The west end has less slope than the east 1/3 of the runway. The runway is surrounded by 100'+ trees and significant turbulence and down drafts can be expected under strong crosswind conditions. Afternoon winds are often strong out of the west. Landing under such conditions is not recommended. There is also a +500' ridge line about 1000' south of the runway and parallel to it. The possibility of extreme turbulence under south wind conditions is very likely.
This is a little used airport that normally offers a secluded spot for outdoor recreation. The airport is occasionally used as a fire base in the summer, which pretty much eliminates seclusion during fire season.
|Owyhee Reservoir State Airport is our one true "back country airport." Located 45 miles south of Ontario and 16 miles west of the Idaho state line, it is unique in Oregon´s airport system. It serves no community and has minimal emergency value, but it does offer great recreational opportunities if you have the right combination of aircraft type and pilot skills. |
No ground access exists to this airport. It is about 1.5 hours by boat from Lake Owyhee State Park on the north end of the reservoir to the airport - which is also known as "Pelican Point" for the peninsula on which it lies. It can be a very lonely place most of the time, but on a busy holiday weekend 10 or more aircraft may be found there.
The Owyhee runway is dirt, measures only 1840´ long and 30´ wide and is at an elevation of 2680´. It lies across the peninsula, and normally the reservoir waters come right up to the ends. There are no obstructions, so it is easy to land on the end of the runway. There are often a lot of loose rocks on the surface, and it can be a bit rough. The surface can also be soft after a rain, but is normally very dry and dusty. The airport is in the bottom of the reservoir gorge with much higher terrain on all sides, so turbulence can be extreme if the winds are strong.
Owyhee Reservoir offers great fly-in recreational opportunities. It is usually a good place to get away from it all, if you crave a bit of solitude. The scenery in the gorge is spectacular. Every turn offers a new breathtaking vista. There are often deer in the area, and sometimes bighorn sheep can be seen in the hills to the west. Other wildlife includes rattlesnakes, so caution is in order. While fishing in the lake is very good at times, use caution in eating any fish you catch. Because of naturally occurring mercury in the water, pregnant or nursing women and children 6 years old or younger should not eat any fish taken here. Children older than 6 and healthy adults should eat no more than 8 ounces of fish from these waters, at a frequency of no more than 6 times a year. (Catch and release sounds like a good idea.) Check the Oregon Fishing Regulations for more information.
There is a cabin just east of the Owyhee runway, euphemistically known as the "Owyhee Hilton." It´s a "first come, first served" sort of thing. The cabin is rough and most would prefer to pitch a tent, but it could provide a welcome refuge. Local pilots maintain it for everyone´s use, so please clean up after yourselves and help protect this unique place. The cabin is almost a historical monument and certainly a treasure in this day and age. Food is often left here for emergencies. If you leave something for the cause, be sure it is in a rodent-proof container. You´ll note the place has resident pack rats, and their calling cards are all over. Sign-in logs are kept in the cabin and make for very interesting reading. They offer a snapshot of the history of the area.
Department of Aviation staff fly into this airport only about every 3-4 years, so we appreciate any information you can give us about the runway condition, good or bad. We can then let others know what to expect when they fly in.
|Pacific City State Airport is a popular coastal destination. It´s only a short walk to the beach (Bob Straub State Park), Cape Kawanda is located about 1 mile north, and several eateries are near the airport. Unfortunately, this airport has more than its share of accidents. The first thing you notice about Pacific City is that it´s short. It is only 1875´ long, and the north end has a 300´ displaced threshold to allow a reasonable approach clearance slope over the road at the end. That leaves just 1575´ available landing to the south. Do not hesitate to go around. If you are not firmly on the ground in the first 400´ of the runway, go around. The sooner a go around is initiated, the more likely it can be safely completed. Several accidents here have resulted from down wind landing attempts, or touching down past midfield. |
Normally the winds are fairly strong in the afternoons, so that helps compensate for the short runway. The winds are not always directly down the runway, however, and that brings up the other substandard dimension. This runway is narrow. The pavement is only 30´ wide, which makes the runway look deceptively long. Also, the obstructions along the sides are fairly close in, and there is a lot of burble and low-level turbulence during crosswind conditions. This may not become apparent until you are near touchdown. So be very aware of the wind. A down wind landing here will probably not be successful. Strong crosswinds can make landings treacherous. On the south end the approach is over the sand dunes and Nestucca Bay, so there are no significant obstructions. The north end is another story. There is a 3´ cable fence across the end of the runway. Then there is a city street beyond the cable. A small building sits on the north side of the road, 120´ from the runway end. Several aircraft have had close encounters with this building. North of that building are assorted trees and a 40´ powerline situated 500´ from the end. In a calm wind condition, it is preferable to land to the north.
Another unique feature of Pacific City is that on occasion the airport & runway is underwater. This normally happens only during extreme high tides, or during a winter storm surge when the river is already high. These high tides can leave trash and logs on the runway after they subside. As a result, always be cautious for debris on the runway. There are a limited number of tiedowns on the ramp and they often fill up on a busy weekend. Be very cautious of the unpaved surfaces as they are often very soft. Do not taxi off the pavement without first walking the area to make sure it will support your aircraft. Also look for holes and hidden objects.
|Pinehurst State Airport is another low-use airport that has significant emergency value. It is located in the southern Cascade Range between Ashland and Klamath Falls. The airport is often clear when Ashland and Medford are socked in by fog. |
The paved 2800' X 30' runway is a little more than 400' short for its elevation of 3650'. The runway was overlaid in recent years, and the tiedown area was paved. The NE - SW runway slopes up to the SW. The first half of the runway is fairly level, but it then slopes up abruptly at about 4%. The airport is surrounded by trees, but the approaches are cleared out for over 1200' on each end. The trees to the NE are about 50' tall and the trees to the SW are about 80' tall. Because of the taller trees to the SW and the slope of the runway, great caution should be exercised when landing to the NE. Strong winds here from almost any direction will cause low level turbulence.
Regular winter maintenance is not scheduled, but local pilots do try to keep the airport open. After the first snowfall it is a good idea to check NOTAMS for the runway status.
|Owner recommends contacting Oregon Department of Aviation at 800-874-0102 prior to use of this airport. |
|Santiam Junction State Airport is a seldom used emergency/recreational airport, located just west of Santiam Pass near the junction of Highways 22 and 20 adjacent to a highway maintenance station. The cinder runway is normally firm and smooth. Fly-in camping is permitted on the south side of the runway. No services or facilities are available. The strip receives no winter maintenance and the first snowfall closes it until spring. (Nov. 1 - May 1) |
The runway is a 2800' X 150' strip. That is nearly 500' short of the standard for its 3780' elevation. The runway is surrounded by high terrain and trees; consequently, turbulence should be expected when the winds are strong. The runway slopes up to the east at about 1.5%. High terrain and +200' trees on the east end prevent takeoffs to the east and landings to the west. The approach from the west is between two cinder cones, but the obstructions on centerline are minimal.
This airport is also sometimes used as a fire base in the summer, so there may be several helicopters operating from the strip.
|Toledo State Airport serves as both a community access airport and an emergency airport. It is located about 6 miles east of Newport on the Yaquina River. Pilots flying to Newport or Siletz Bay will often find Toledo is clear, when the airports on the coast are fogged in. If your aircraft can be accommodated at this airport it may save a long flight back to the valley. The airport is unlighted and has no services, but there is a phone adjacent to the ramp. |
At 1750' in length and 40' in width, the airport is both shorter and narrower than standard. In addition to being short, the runway is surrounded by higher terrain. The airport lies just east of the river. Both approaches have significant obstructions. To the southeast, Runway 31 has 80' trees about 400' from the runway, and numerous other trees and high terrain farther out. A slightly curved approach over the river to the west helps avoid the worst of the obstructions.
To the northwest, Runway 13 has 120' trees about 1500' from the runway. Again, a curved approach from over the river will help miss the serious obstructions. This is not an airport for the unfamiliar when visibility is reduced. There are many deer around the airport, so be very alert if operating here at twilight. Waterfowl are also very common.
The ramp surface is gravel. Recommend pulling aircraft onto taxiway before starting engine or conducting engine run-up. Airport occasionally floods following winter storms. Recommend overflying runway to check for debris.
|Wakonda Beach State Airport is an emergency/recreational airport, located on the east side of Highway 101 about 2 miles south of Waldport. It is less than a 1/4 mile walk to the beach, and Beachside State Park is just west of the highway across from the south end of the runway. |
The runway is a 2000' X 50' turf strip. It can get soft in the winter after extensive rains, but it is normally in good condition and therefore usable year-round. Some wind erosion has occurred along the shoulders. These areas are obvious and while not abrupt or deep, they would be quite a dip if taken at any speed. There is a line of 60'-75' tall trees down the east side of the runway that are only 75' from the centerline. The west side is brushy, and more open, but low level turbulence should always be expected under cross wind conditions. There have been reports of a down draft off the north end under strong north wind conditions. Take offs to the north should be done with caution.
The main problem here is that both approaches have significant obstructions. The north end is the most challenging. We recently removed the tallest trees and powerlines on the north end, but there is still a road across the end, a lower telephone/cable line and some lower trees. The telephone/cable line is marked with three safety globes; two yellow and one orange. We recommend that when conditions permit, landings be made to the north and takeoffs be made to the south. This is not as critical now as it once was, however.
The terrain to the south rises slowly for over 1000'. There are also a few tall trees on the east side of the extended centerline of Runway 34. A slightly curved approach from the west helps to avoid the obstructions on this end.
Fly-in camping is allowed on the airport. There are no formal facilities established, but there is room to camp in the tiedown area. There is a chemical toilet near the hangar, and water is available near the parking area. We simply ask that airport users pick up their camp site and leave it in good condition. Also, we request that - here and at other State Airports - users sign in at the sign-in box. This helps us identify the level of use at these airports. Your comments and suggestions are always appreciated.