What does a casual summer afternoon look like for Whitetail Club member Rich Rogers? He ventures off to an Idaho backcountry airstrip with his Cessna 182 Skylane and then, after a day of adventure in the Idaho wilds, heads back to the Club for a round on the golf course, followed by a delectable dinner at the clubhouse. It’s not your ordinary itinerary, but much like Rich, many of our members at Whitetail Club are seasoned recreational pilots fueled by wheels up.

McCall is a mecca for solitude seekers, and it’s been named a top mountain destination across National Geographic, TODAY Show, and Travel + Leisure. What better way to explore this award-winning terrain than through a bird’s eye view?

Recreational flying has always been on my bucket list, and a little over 20 years ago, I decided to pursue my license,” said Rich Rogers. “Since being a member of Whitetail Club for the past 12 years, I’ve seen an uptick in air traffic during Idaho’s pristine summer, spring, and fall seasons. It’s a growing sport, and the Club is perfectly positioned near the McCall Municipal Airport.

With aircraft ranging from small general aviation planes to larger turbine-powered airplanes and business jets, the McCall Municipal Airport operates an average of 119 aircraft daily. The airport’s 6,101-foot runway equips it to meet the market’s needs better than most mountain destination airports.

As Roger relays, ensuring that your take-off location holds the right tools is a core element of the pre-flight checklist.

  • Before he arrives at the airport, Rich maps out the trail by identifying how many stops he’ll have to make along the way, ensuring a safe and efficient flight.
  • Then, he checks the forecast to ensure the weather is satisfactory throughout his flight. Weather in Western Idaho can vary greatly, making flying difficult and even dangerous. Being well-versed in weather patterns is a must.
  • Ensuring that you have enough fuel for the duration of the flight is another key step in the process, as well as checking the weight.
  • As the last step, Rich does a final walk around the plane to check the essential elements like oil, radio operation, and gauges.

Proper pre-flight preparation takes about 10-15 minutes, and his best advice is to arrive early.

Dubbed the “Gateway to the Backcountry,” McCall is a base to fly to mountain wilderness, river canyons, and remote airstrips. Adventure Flying – a flight training service provider in Idaho, rounded up 70 airstrips found throughout the state that offer spectacular scenery and equally fulfill the backcountry exploration you long for. You can view them here or keep scrolling to check out our top three neighboring airstrips.

Big Creek (U60)
Runway Length: 3,500 ft | Elevation: 5,743 ft
Airtime from Whitetail Club: 15 minutes

Surrounded by piercing mountain ridges, untamed wilderness, and brilliantly blue remote lakes – this is a mere 15-minute flight away from McCall. Big Creek has been one of Idaho’s premier backcountry airstrip destinations for nearly a century.

Indian Creek USFS (S81)
Runway Length: 4,650 ft | Elevation: 4,718 ft
Airtime from Whitetail Club: 30 minutes

In the heart of Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness National Forest sits the Indian Creek airstrip parallel to the Middle Fork Salmon River. Glide among the towering Ponderosa trees and the elongated valley to land on runway 22 to truly disconnect and lose yourself in two million acres of deep canyons and rugged mountains.

Thomas Creek (2U8)
Runway Length: 2,100 ft | Elevation: 1,320 ft
Airtime from Whitetail Club: 30 minutes

Approximately six miles upstream from the Indian Creek airstrip is the Thomas Creek airstrip. Soar over the Middle Fork Salmon River and land facing the Southwest peaks of the Salmon River Mountains. Only half a mile west on the other side of the river sits Middle Fork Lodge

“Rich and I met about four or five years ago when Roger Motors hosted a hole-in-one giveaway, and I took home a brand-new pickup truck! It’s a sweet ride that I still have with me,” said Don Jefferis, managing director at a New York City-based software firm. “Ever since then, Roger and I have been in contact. Now that I’m in the training process of acquiring my pilot license, he’s been a mentor.”

Originally from the Midwest by way of Texas, Don has been a member of Whitetail Club since 2014. He was first introduced to the private community through his Texas neighbor, that eagerly recommended the Club’s location, golf amenities, and stunning views of Payette Lake. “Whitetail Club has a variety of events, but my favorite has to be any private dinner or special event from Chef Marcus. From the Member’s Only Wine Dinners to ATV Trip or Member-Guest Golf Tournament, it’s always an excellent opportunity to enjoy delicious food while spending time with great company.”

Currently, training in a Cessna 172, recreational flying has been a longtime goal, and after taking a fall hiatus from training, Don has a few weeks left to receive his private pilot certification. Once he stays in one city long enough, he plans on completing it by this Spring. Throughout the process, Don has migrated his training from Houston to Scottsdale to McCall and back to Houston. “Although I wouldn’t recommend it, the upside of this training process is that it does allow a pilot to become familiar with different airspaces and different flight instructors.”

When meeting with your flight instructor, ensuring that they break down the lessons in a way that aligns with your learning strategies will make a difference in effectively assimilating the information. With the Club’s close proximity to the McCall Municipal Airport, Whitetail Club is an expansive beginner’s area for flying.

“McCall’s airspace is not only scenic, but it takes out a lot of the congestion and air traffic control stress that a Houston or Scottsdale training facility would have,” said Jefferis. “Flying in Idaho is a great way to increase your reach of new and interesting locations, particularly the backcountry.”

McCall is also home to the McCall Smokejumper base, which offers a program that equips participants with a diverse skill set on managing and suppressing wildfires, prescribed fire planning, and implementation.

Much like Rich and Don, the adventures for our members are never-ending, and if you’re also an aviation enthusiast, we invite you to embark on this journey with us.

Schedule a personalized Discovery Tour of Whitetail Club to experience a slice of paradise and the luxurious lifestyle of a Whitetail Club membership. Contact Whitetail Club’s real estate sales team at 877.634.1725 or realestate@whitetailclub.com.