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Pumpkin run

Montesano, Washington

Through the trees and down the river you will find a quintessentially autumnal destination where the grass strip is green and pumpkins are bright orange and ripe for picking at Chapman Farms, about 65 nautical miles southwest of Seattle.

The farm near Montesano is a quiet, open reprieve for Seattle-area pilots. Kristyn Blocher has been flying her 1948 Cessna 170 to the farm for several years. “It’s a very, very unique place for pilots to fly into,” she said.

Her rag-wing taildragger feels at home on the farm's 10 acres of open space. Farmer Scott Chapman likes it that way. “We try not to commercialize our place, you won’t find carnival rides here, or pony rides, or things like that. What we try to promote is open space…people can come have a picnic, throw Frisbees, bring their dogs out on a leash, and obviously two 170s sitting here—we let airplanes fly in and out.”

There are activities for all ages, including photo scene cutouts that make it appear like you are in a red biplane towing a banner. Other features include a corn maze, sunflower fields, and numerous picnic tables. Chapman wants people to unwind on the farm his family has worked for generations. He grew up fascinated by the Bell 47 his family used for aerial application when he was a small boy. He has yet to finish his certificate but soloed a Piper J–3 Cub in his youth.

The strip is not charted but is well maintained. It is roughly east-west oriented, and usually winds favor landing to the west. The approach from that direction doglegs off a river. Pilots are encouraged to reach out to Chapman Farms on Facebook for the latest field conditions. Teagan LaPointe, who is a CFI, says it’s not hard to land there, but that pilots should get a good briefing from someone experienced in the pastoral place.

“The approach is through the trees and down the river. It’s just…fun place to fly into. I wouldn't say it’s challenging, but it’s abnormal,” LaPointe said.

The usual farm fare of pumpkins, baked goods, corn, and other produce can be had by those who make the trek. The farm hosts an annual fly-in, complete with a pumpkin drop contest.

Pilot Teagan LaPointe prepares to touch down on the grass strip at Chapman Farms. Sierra Harrop, right, takes cellphone video. Image by Sierra Harrop. Teagan LaPointe, left, and Kristyn Blocher walk from their respective Cessna 170s after landing at Chapman Farms. Image by Sierra Harrop. A sign warning of low-flying aircraft encourages visitors to Chapman Farms to enjoy them. Image by Sierra Harrop. The main produce barn at Chapman Farms is lined with pumpkins for sale. Image by Sierra Harrop.
Sierra Harrop

Sierra Harrop

Producer/Videojournalist—AOPA Live®
Sierra Harrop has been an AOPA Live producer/videojournalist since 2012. She is a private pilot with a tailwheel endorsement who is currently working on her instrument rating and commercial pilot certificate.
Topics: U.S. Travel

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