Nearly every pilot in Idaho who flies the backcountry carries a copy of Hanselman’s book, “Fly Idaho!,” in the cockpit—to the point where most people simply refer to it as “the backcountry pilot’s bible.” His “Idaho Aeronautical Chart” is used by pilots all over the Northwest. The widespread distribution of Hanselman’s books, charts, and articles has increased the safety of flight, while bringing public awareness to Idaho’s irreplaceable backcountry airstrips. Blessed with nearly 100 pristine wilderness airstrips within easy reach of civilization, Idaho has become the premier destination for recreational pilots from every corner of the planet.
“Fly Idaho!” provides wacky true tales of Idaho’s backcountry history, including stories of old timers, miners, trappers, hermits, Indians, wayward pilots, outlaws, moonshiners and recreational information was also included. To help pilots assess the difficulty of any airstrip at a glance, Hanselman developed the Relative Hazard Index (RHI). The RHI is a number between 1 and 50 that considers factors such as obstacles, terrain, visibility, runway surfaces, and more. Hanselman also published Fly Utah, Air Baja and aeronautical charts. With surveying equipment including a tripod, theodolite, measuring wheel, level, compass, GPS, and more he spent years compiling the most extensive data on remote areas. In addition to accurately computing the location, length, width, elevation, and orientation of each runway, he overflew each strip and photographed it from different angles, as an incoming pilot would see it. This sounds easier than it is: many airstrips lie deep within narrow canyons, making it difficult to fly and photograph at the same time.