Savage in Bend: Exposing the Quirks That Make Central Oregon Unique | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Savage in Bend: Exposing the Quirks That Make Central Oregon Unique

The Pilot Butte Airport

Hello amazing readers! Here we are again for Round Two of Savage in Bend, a new column where curious individuals submit those burning questions about everything Central Oregon.

Our latest question comes from avid "Source Weekly" reader Dennis D. who asks, "What do you know about the Pilot Butte airport?

Nada. I have to admit, usually, I have at least an inkling of an idea about a topic, but before this question, I had no knowledge such a place existed.

We all know about Central Oregon's largest airport in Redmond, which the majority of us use for our travels. Most people are aware of the smaller Bend Municipal Airport. Interestingly enough, KBDN is home to a flight training school, businesses and noncommercial aircraft. And here's a fun fact. It's the third-largest in Oregon in terms of takeoffs and landings, with only the Portland and Hillsboro airports claiming more traffic!

Curious about this mysterious Pilot Butte Airport, my research began the way most people do during this day and age. I Googled it. Besides a few aviation websites which listed it officially as 8OR5, not much popped up except facts and figures which I never gave much thought about — the dimensions of the runway, latitude and longitude, elevation, traffic patterns, the distance of the closest trees. . .

All this information was interesting, but it didn't help much. Luckily, the site listed the phone number of the manager, Alan Valenti. Sometimes it's necessary to get your hands dirty and do real detective work the old-fashioned way, so I called.

"This number is no longer in service."

Arg! Back to square one. Luckily, I found another number of a friendly fellow, Duane, who used to be the manager of the airport. He gladly shared information and we chatted a while. Retired and now living in Montana, he seemed to be living the good life while sipping his coffee from the porch of his home with a view of the Glacier National Park area. He also shared Alan's updated number. I was able to reach him as well and had another friendly conversation.

Much like devoted golfers who desire a home on or near a course, the Pilot Butte Airport became the fulfilled dream of some local aviation enthusiasts. They got together and in the 1960s built the Aerospace Acres residential neighborhood on what was then the outskirts of Bend. As the city grew, other neighborhoods and such built up around it, but since they were there first, they got to stay. It's very doubtful this would be permitted today, but according to both men, they have never had issues and always maintained an amicable relationship with the City. In fact, they often meet with officials and planners to make sure future construction will not interfere with the airport. The pilots make every effort to respect the neighbors and keep flights limited to daytime hours.

Naturally, I had to drive to search for this mysterious airport myself. The airstrip is easily visible from the fairly busy Bear Creek Road, and I was surprised I had never noticed it. Two streets with the names of Cessna Drive and Airstrip Drive made the area easy to find. Sure enough, smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood, between the two streets, there it was. After driving around the same streets a few times in hopes of a better view, I ended up near the Larkspur Trail. Eager to get a closer look and to get my steps in for the day, I parked and began to explore. Not far from where I embarked on the trail a small path to the left led to a chain link fence with a foreboding NO TRESSPASSING sign.

Seeing at least a few hangers and a veritable runway, two thoughts immediately came to my mind, "How in the world does someone land a plane on such a small patch of land?" and "How cool is this? I'd rather own a home on an airstrip than a golf course any day!"

Currently, nine residents share the airstrip and all of them own homes, the requirement for using the completely private airstrip and hangers. Unfortunately, Dennis, if you or other readers are hoping to use the Pilot Butte Airport you will have to wait until an owner sells. Since this is very uncommon, it might be a long wait. Honestly, I wouldn't mind having one myself. #Goals

—Curious about something you encountered or heard about in Central Oregon but could never figure it out? Didn't have the time to do the research? Send those burning questions about local history, cultural interests, or other peculiarities of the area. I'll do my best to find the answers and publish them in this column! [email protected].

Comments (0)

Add a comment

Add a Comment
View All Our Picks


Bend Ticket Giveaway

Newsletter Signup

Get Social

Want to Advertise With Us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here