Eclipse in Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon poses some unique challenges for aviation.  It is high desert and in August, very high density altitudes can be expected.  Mid-day temperatures climb very quickly and can be expected to be 100 degrees or higher.  Flying conditions can get very rough in the afternoon due to the intense heating of the ground.  Locals typically fly only in the morning.

August is the height of fire season in Oregon.  Fire related TFRs in the Western U.S. are becoming numerous and will become more so into August.  Stay well away from Mt. Jefferson as there is a large fire in the area and an extensive firefighting TFR that extends up to 11,000 MSL.  Skyvector provides graphical representations of the TFRs.  There are many and the number is growing.

Airports in eastern Oregon are few in number and generally widely dispersed.  For the most part, towns near airports are small and may be overwhelmed by eclipse viewers.  There are a couple of private airports within the zone of totality, but they are not for public use.  They are also very remote with no water, fuel, or services available and no nearby town.

Extra planning is necessary if you plan to fly to an eastern Oregon airport.  Summertime in the Oregon desert is hot.  A gallon of water per person, compact food for several days, and shade will save your life if you have to put down in a remote area.  Fill your tanks at the closest location with fuel before landing at your chosen destination – but keep in mind runway length and density altitude constraints.

Tips for success:

  • Though the forecast is for high temps in the upper 80s, the sun will be very intense.  Wear light weight, long sleeve cotton shirts and have a wide brim hat for shade and protection from serious sunburn.  Dress for success
  • The importance of having water in the desert cannot be overemphasized.  Bring a gallon per person and some dense food.  If you need it, it will save your life in the desert
  • Much of the eastern Oregon desert region does not have reliable cellphone access.  File a flight plan and fly the plan – or at least let someone know your route of flight.  Radar coverage can be spotty over large areas of the Oregon desert unless you are flying quite high.  Keep that in mind.
  • If you have to put down away from an airport, STAY WITH YOUR PLANE.  Do not venture away.  You plane is more visible than you and offers shade and shelter.  Its a big desert.

This article will give details only for airports that have 1 minute or more of totality.  Please use the contact form at the bottom of this page to send me information and it will be included.

Santiam Junction (8S3) Eclipse Info Google Map
Designated Warning Airport

Totality: 1m 30 s (ish) – no nearby town
Eclipse start: 09:07 – or so
Totality start: 10:19 – or so
Fuel: No
Approach: No
Rwy: 2800′ 16/24 – field elevation 3800 MSL
Camping on field: YES

I’ve included Santiam Junction Airport for those who have back-country experience.  Read the Warning Airport info.   If you don’t have this experience and a plane that is capable, this is definitely not for you.  This is a one-way in, one-way out airport.  Wind direction doesn’t matter.  It is shorter than standard for the elevation.  The runway is volcanic cinders.  There is no fuel, services, water, anything.  No town for 15 miles or so.  The facility next to the runway is a highway maintenance facility.  Don’t count on getting any services there.  If you are good with all that and have back-country experience and a capable airplane, this might be for you.  You can count on conditions being quite rough for departure.

On the other hand, you are likely to have a great view of the eclipse away from the hordes of people.  If this is your choice, consider Sisters Airport (6K5) – 19nm SE –  as a resupply base.  They have loaner bikes (with baskets) for the short ride into town.

Madras (S33) Eclipse Info  Google Map

Totality 2m 2s
Eclipse start: 09:06:43
Totality start: 10:19:36
Fuel: yes
Approach: yes
Rwy: 5100′ 16/34
Rwy: 2700′ 04/22 (will probably be closed to accommodate anticipated traffic)
Camping on field: YES (Reservations are sold out)

Madras is pretty much eclipse central for eastern Oregon.  It is almost right on centerline of totality and the view of the shadow of the moon on Mt Jefferson promises to be epic.  OregonSolarFest will be right next to the airport, so there will be plenty of resources available for the anticipated 70,000 people.  So far, this is the most organized of the events that are at/near an airport.

Madras airport made extensive plans to support the anticipated crowd for the eclipse, but have sold out of reservations to park and/or camp on the field.  See the Madras Airport website for more information.  If you do not have a paid reservation, you will not be permitted to land.

A temporary tower will be established at Madras Airport from Saturday 18 August – Monday 21 August.  Arrival procedures will be in effect.  If you have a reservation, review the NOTAM carefully and check their website regularly.

Because of the anticipated inbound traffic, there may be delays for arrival.  Ensure you have plenty of fuel to loiter as required or to divert to another location if necessary.

If you have a reservation to fly to Madras, pack extra water and concentrated food in the event you get turned away from landing at Madras.  Something to provide shade from the sun is a must also.  Plan for departure delays of several hours as they work to get all those planes out.  You could possibly be looking at not being able to depart before 1:00 in the afternoon or later.

Lake Billy – Chinook State (5S5Google Map

Totality: 1m 53s (approximate)
Eclipse Start: 09:06:33
Totality Start: 10:19:30 (approximate)
Fuel: No
Approach: No
Rwy: 2500′ 16/34
Camping on field: Unknown

At 2700′ MSL and with a 2500′ runway, you will need to know the capabilities of your plane on a high density altitude day if you go here.

There is very little parking, no fuel or other services – to include water and restroom. The airport is well away from everything and may not have cellphone service so think carefully before landing here. It is also possible the airport may be overrun with people who were seeking a place to camp, so be careful and be ready to exercise go-around procedures if the runway is blocked. Be sure to take water, food, and shade if you do try to go here.  Do not taxi off the pavement without carefully checking or you will likely get stuck.

This airport is not a good choice for flying into unless you have a back country capable plane.  If you do attempt it, have plans to depart to another location if there is no place to park.  If you do fly here, consider Sisters Airport (6K5) – 19nm SW – for resupply.

Prineville (S39) Eclipse Info

Totality: 1m 7s
Eclipse Start: 09:06:41
Totality Start: 10:20:16
Fuel: Yes
Approach: Yes
Rwy: 5700′ 10/28
Rwy: 4000′ 15/33
Camping on field: No

Prineville features a sizeable FBO with a lounge. Though they have a lot of parking, the FBO reports that Eclipse day reservations are full and they have to accomodate a lot of fire fighting efforts.  There is also intensive flight training around Prineville.  Without a reservation, you will not be permitted to land/remain at Prineville.

Sisters (6K5) Eclipse Info  Google Map

Totality: 34s
Eclipse Start: 09:06:04
Totality Start: 10:19:34
Fuel: Yes
Approach: No
Rwy: 3560′ 02/20
Camping on field: YES

Sisters Airport has 34s of totality, and is a viable destination at this point.  They have availability for 14 camping spots under the wing (of which 4 are taken) and can accommodate 50 aircraft.  As of 9 August, 26 of those spots are reserved.

Contact Dave Campbell via the Sisters Eagle Air Website to secure a reservation.  It is anticipated that they will fill up quickly.  If you do not have a reservation, you may not be allowed to park.

The airport has a small number of loaner bikes for the very short trip to town and walking is an option.  Hotel reservations are not available.

Field elevation is 3168 MSL and afternoon density altitude will be considerably higher.  Plan for that.  Watch for deer and other wildlife on the runway.  Review the noise abatement procedures on the website and fly neighborly.

John Day State (KGCD) Eclipse Info Google Map

Totality: 2m 1s
Eclipse Start: 09:08:29
Totality Start: 10:22:30
Fuel: Yes
Approach: No
Rwy: 5200′ 17/35
Rwy: 4400′ 09/27
Camping on field: NO

John Day would normally represent an excellent possibility for eclipse viewing but they have only 16 tiedown spots – all of which are now reserved. If you land here, they will not be able to accommodate you unless you have a reservation.  The airport manager has said that the terminal will be closed to the public and the airport will not be able to accommodate anything other than emergency traffic on the day of the eclipse.  There will be a NOTAM issued to discuss this.

If you wish to view the eclipse at John Day, your only option at this point is to drive in.

Monument (12S) Eclipse Info Google Map

Camping on field:  NO (change from previous)

2300′ MSL with a 2100′ runway means knowing the capabilities of your plane on a high density altitude day.  August in Monument will be very hot and the sun will be unrelenting (until eclipse totality).  Make sure you have water and shade at least.

The town of Monument is tiny – a school, a store, some houses – but they are hosting an eclipse festival.

Because of this, there are likely to be a fairly large number of people and it is a short walk into town.  The airport has only 5 paved tiedown spots and no services at all – to include water and restroom.  The airport manager reports that there are unpaved areas where it is safe to pull your airplane, but to walk the area first and not block the runway.

The latest information from the airport manager is that they will not be allowing camping on the airport.

All tie-down spots at Monument are now reserved and they will be unable to accomodate any aircraft that do not have a reservation.

Ontario (KONO) Eclipse Info

Totality: 1m 26s
Start of Eclipse: 10:10:07 (MDT)
Start of Totality: 11:25:33 (MDT)
Fuel: Yes
Approach: Yes
Rwy: 5000′ 14/32
Camping on field: Unknown

Ontario is just off of the Eastern Oregon desert very near the border with Idaho. It is also in the MDT timezone as opposed to the rest of Oregon in PDT.

The weather in Ontario is also not as reliably excellent in August as is that of the desert to the west but chances are good for clear weather. Still, the Tips for Success on this page still apply – especially if you will be arriving from/departing to the Eastern Oregon desert.

There is an FBO on the field, but there are no known plans for the eclipse on the airport at this time. The airport management was unaware of the eclipse as of today (8 May) so if you are planning to fly into Ontario for the eclipse, a call to the airport manager would be prudent.

More information on Ontario later.

Baker City (KBKE) Eclipse Info Google Map

Totality: 1m 35s
Start of Eclipse: 09:09:51
Start of Totality: 10:24:30
Fuel: Yes
Approach: Yes
Rwy: 5000′ 13/31
Rwy: 4300′ 17/35
Rwy: 3600′ 08/26
Camping on field: Unknown

In spite of having 3 runways, Baker City does not have a large amount of ramp parking.  There are currently no known plans for any events but remember that there are no hotels available.  Stay tuned for more information on Baker City.

Airports with less than 1 minute of totality

Miller (S49) Eclipse Info  Google Map
Redmond (KRDM) Eclipse Info Google Map
Sisters (6K5) Eclipse Info Google Map