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Russian Flat Airstrip (M42)

Background

Aerial Photo of Russian Airstrip taken June, 2009

Russian Flat is the newest public airstrip in the Continental United States. The airstrip is the result of a partnership between The Recreational Aviation Foundation, The Montana Pilots Association, and the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Montana Pilots Association provided all the volunteer labor for the airstrip construction and The Recreational Aviation Foundation provided the funding for the airstrip. Century Companies of Lewistown, MT provided donated labor and equipment for the airstrip construction.

The airstrip came about because pilots were invited to participate in the Travel Planning process for the Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Travel Planning process started in 2003 and the Travel Plan with an approved airstrip was put into effect in 2007. The construction was started in 2008 and the airstrip was opened to the public on August 20, 2010 after countless hours of meetings and construction work.

The result of all the this work is the first new airstrip on US Forest Service Land in 45 to 50 years.

Precautions

Russian Flat (N46° 43.473' W110° 24.685') is located approximately 69 miles SW of Great Falls, MT (KGTF), 29 miles NE of White Sulphur Springs, MT (7S6), 30 miles SW of Stanford, MT (S64), and 50 miles SW of Lewistown, MT (KLWT).  Airstrip identifier is M42. The length of the runway is 3,275 ft at an elevation of 6,400 ft and runs in an east/west direction. Since Russian Flat is on the east side of the Rocky Mountains southwest winds are prevalent. The southwest winds can be quite substantial in this area so care must be taken.

The recommended landing direction is to the west with takeoff to the east. The runway slopes uphill to the west so that is another reason to land to the west. The southwest winds may dictate that you have to wait until evening for takeoff. If a downwind takeoff is required to the east it has been reported that there could be downdrafts on takeoff, even in calmer winds so precaution is necessary.

You will find two windsocks at Russian Flat. There is one on the south side of the runway on the east end and one on the north side of the runway on the west end. Russian Flat is located on a US Forest Service grazing lease that is used one month per summer so be watchful of cattle that may be on the runway. If you happen to arrive during a grazing period there is an airplane corral located at the west end of the runway. Cattle like to rub on aircraft so be sure to use the corral.

What’s There? Do's and Don’ts

 

Super Cub and campers inside the airplane corral at Russian Flat.

The airplane corral is located at the west end of the runway. As mentioned earlier you will want to park your aircraft in the corral if cattle are present in the area. When you leave be sure and close the gates to the corral to keep cattle from entering the corral when no one is around. You can set your tent up either in the trees to the south of the corral or in the corral itself. By closing the gates you will assure the next person using the campground will not have “cow pies” in the corral.

A vault toilet is located to the south of the runway for your use. A fire pit, that can be rolled to different locations, is  chained to the toilet for your use. Signage located at the campground will give you the combination of the padlock. The fire pit is designed so it can be rolled to where ever you want to camp. Since the campground is a “Leave No Trace” campground please do not use stones from the area to build your own fire pit. Before you leave please clean the fire pit by spreading the ashes outside of the campground area and secure the fire pit to the vault toilet. Again there will be signage at the campground explaining “Leave No Trace” camping procedures.

If you are into hiking, you can follow the road from the campground and hike about 1/4 mile west to the public campground and follow the trail down Russian Creek and end up at the South Fork of the Judith River. The South Fork of the Judith River is one of the largest drainages for Western Cutthroat Trout in the country. You can contact Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks online at fwp.mt.gov to get the latest requirements on fishing regulations and fishing seasons.

A map of the Lewis and Clark National Forest may be obtained from the Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisors Office Located at:

1101 15th Street N.
Great Falls, MT 59401
406-791-7700
www.fs.fed.us/r1/lewisclark

Be a good neighbor to other visitors in the Lewis and Clark National Forest and do not linger over the airstrip when arriving or leaving.