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Backcountry training

When we hear the term “backcountry flying” we usually think of places like Idaho, Montana, and Alaska - Northwest Arkansas is rarely on the short list. However, more and more folks are discovering the great backcountry flying and recreational opportunities right here in the center of the country.


Arkansas consists of nineteen million acres of forest covering close to sixty percent of the state, so no matter where you are in Arkansas, it only takes a few minutes to get out of town and away from it all. Our title “The Natural State” is well deserved. Our backcountry programs are based out of the Bentonville airport (KVBT) located in the northwestern corner of the state. From here we have access to over fifty airstrips within an hour's flight - some of them just a few minutes away.


At FLY OZ we believe that there is a lot more to backcountry flying than just taking off and landing short. It involves a completely different pilot mindset which encompasses things like survival, stewardship, planning and assessment.


Our goal is to provide a well rounded introduction to the backcountry flying environment. We do this with a combination of ground and flight training utilizing your aircraft or ours.

Our program begins with a ground discussion focused around developing your backcountry mindset.

Student's first landing at Warrick Hollow

The first flight with one of our highly experienced instructors will be to assess the performance of the aircraft we are flying and get a feel for the various gaits of flight.  We'll also begin to develop some short field skills on our 2,500' turf runway where there are no obstacles and approaches and departures are standard.

The second flight involves assessing and polishing our STOL skills through work on spot landings plus soft and short field work.  Most of that work will be done at our home turf airstrip, although we might decide to explore some of the nearby airstrips to add some variety.

In subsequent flights we move on to explore some of the outlying airstrips and put the skills we have developed to use. When you are done for the day, Bentonville offers a host of nightlife and recreational opportunities outside nearly every doorstep. Mountain biking, world class museums, restaurants, walking and hiking trails are all easily accessible.

We offer individual backcountry training, or if you have a group interested in meeting up in the Ozarks to polish their skills, let us know!  

​For more information or to schedule your Intro to Backcountry course contact us using the button below.

Thaden Field Backcountry Training Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of backcountry training do you offer?

We offer personalized individual training based on your interest and skill level. Our training focuses on controlling the aircraft at minimum airspeed and spot landings, which produce the most consistent short field landings.  This isn’t a mountain flying course, so we don’t teach canyon turns. Instead we focus on unusual approaches and departures and how to safely operate on unimproved strips.

How much does it cost?

We charge $130 per hour for backcountry flight instruction - both air and ground.  We offer day rates as well.

Can I use my airplane?

Yes, providing it meets some basic criteria and we have an instructor that has experience in the aircraft type.

Can I use your airplane?

Of course.  We have a Cessna 182 fitted for backcountry flying and a Piper PA-18 Super Cub.  You can review the rates for those aircraft at this link.

Can we fly five times a day?

We understand the desire to get your money's worth when you visit, but there is a diminishing return doing this kind of flight training.  We find that two or three flights of one to one-and-a-half hours each is a good estimate for most people.

Can you teach me how to water ski and land on sandbars?

Sorry, we don't do that kind of training.  See FAQ item one.

Where will the training be conducted?

Initial skill building will be conducted at strips near the KVBT airport. Once you have mastered the techniques, we can move to working at the many airstrips within thirty miles or so.

Where will I stay?

There are a number of lodging options in the Bentonville area from fancy to spartan.  Here is a list of some of them.  If you're interested in camping we can help with that too.

What if the weather doesn't cooperate?

Like most places the weather here is not always easy to predict. We do our best to stay in touch with you as your scheduled training approaches to make alternate arrangements if necessary.  There is no cancellation fee.

Are there things to do around the area for my spouse/significant other?

There is a lot to do in Bentonville and the surrounding area. There is no better resource than Visit Bentonville for all of the latest information. Their website can be found here: Visit Bentonville

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