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A new way to explore The Natural State takes off rom the moment I first engaged with the everunfolding energy of the Ozarks, I longed to see them from a certain sweet spot. On land, you can get lost in the subtle rhythms of the hills, valleys and mountainside and almost forget that you are in the middle of the largest American mountain range between the Appalachians and the Rockies. Ten thousand feet in the air, the finer features of the Ozark Mountains are muted and marginalized by the extreme heights that commercial airlines accomplish. Somewhere special among the two—nestled between 1,000 and 10,000 feet—a perspective, pivotal in the holistic appreciation of the Natural State, appears. Here you can best understand the expansive nature of the Ozarks. How they, crafted by time, maintain a most-natural flow over the countryside, generating a variety of life across all their avenues as they conduct a certain state of energy that pushes everything in contact with them forward, deeper into nature. I’ve always longed for this perspective, somewhere above the treetops, but below the first stratum of clouds, to soar between the two and ride the waves of air above the complementing rolling mountains. In early July, I was given the opportunity to step into this vision as a result of a shift in legislation and backcountry aviation community development. In 2012, a change to the Arkansas Recreational Use Statute (the bill that protects landowners from the liability associated with allowing certain recreational activities on their land) was made. The term, “aviation activities” was added to a long list of some of the most enjoyable outdoor activities in Arkansas—fishing, swimming, mountain biking, camping and hunting. With this small change, hundreds of private airstrips through the state became unlocked, and with them, the soaring potential of recreational flying and training throughout the Natural State.  Like never before, the world of backcountry Ozark aviation is accessible to everyone, from young professionals like myself, aspiring pilots, and families young and old, across the state. As a state, we are better because of it. The more we deeply appreciate the astounding nature of our surroundings, the better we understand ourselves, our outdoor community, and how to best connect and progress them.

30 | Arkansas Wild ¸ fall 2015

PHOTO BY WESLEY HITT

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BY DE VIN O ’ DE A

Arkansas Wild Fall 2015  
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