I’ve been intrigued with Mercey Hot Springs ever since I found out they had a runway so today I decided to fly out there. I didn’t have time to soak because of engagements later in the day but I certainly had time to fly out there and check things out. To get there I flew due south from Oakdale to the Panoche VOR (PXN) and then hung a right. Mercy Hot Springs is probably 3 miles or so due west of the VOR itself. If you’re going to drive there it’s in the northwest part of Fresno county on Little Panoche Road. Here is their website with directions: https://merceyhotsprings.com/
Today was perfect flying weather, a little hazy but not a breeze in the sky. MHS is located in a draw between some hills. The runway looks to be 2000 feet long or so and hard packed dirt so small tire guys can easily handle this runway. It IS narrow though so make sure you can land straight, you’ve only got a few feet either side of your tires to play with. Also, note that there are quite a few gopher holes in the parking area so if you do have small tires, be careful. My 6.00×6’s were fine.
As I approached the strip I was trying to come up with a story as to why I landed in case I wasn’t welcome. As I flew over the strip I could see another plane parked next to the runway so I figured this was a green light. I flew a wide left pattern so I wouldn’t overfly the guests and ruin their peace and quiet. Incidentally this met with the owner’s extreme approval as I later found out. The approaches are mostly clear and not noting any wind I elected to land from south to north. There was a mild breeze on the ground that was from the north so this proved to be a good idea. As I came down short final I noticed that there is a small hill in front of the runway. It isn’t very high but you’ll want to be aware of it. I skimmed over it and landed easily on the hard packed dirt.
I taxied back and parked next to a Murphy Rebel. The pilot and his copilot were there. I asked him if it was okay to land here. He indicated that it probably was but he always calls ahead to ask. I figured it was better to ask forgiveness so I headed into the registration office after pushing my plane back into the parking area.
I walked over to the office and was warmly greated by a man a woman sitting in the office. I asked them if was okay to fly in. He said it was fine but legally he had to tell me the runway was closed. He asked if I saw the X’s. I told him I did and had parked next to one of them. He said that was fine, it’s just that the county wants the X’s visible from the air. He said, “Here’s the deal, if you’re flying by and you hear a funny noise or you want to check an aileron or something, feel free to land and check your plane out. If everything seems fine and you’d like to camp or soak, you’re welcome to do that.” Then he handed me a brochure and explained the various facilities. Very sociable and friendly guy as was his wife.
I’ll definitely be back when I have time to soak.