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June/July 2000

Table of Contents
Camping with your Airplane
Flying the Backcountry
Establishing Recreational Airports
The Call of the Wild
The new Aviat Husky
The $100 Hamburger
McGehee's Catfish Restaurant, Oklahoma
Back To Basics
Flying Safely to Remote Airstrips
Hangar Flying:
The Choir
SWAV News Update

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SW Aviator Magazine
3909 Central NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
Phone: 505.256.7031
Fax: 505.256.3172
McGehee's Catfish Restaurant, Oklahoma
story and photos by Don Mickey

Sometimes getting there really is half the fun. The McGehee Catfish Restaurant not only offers what may very well be the best catfish anywhere, but also serves up a unique flying adventure.

McGehee’s is tucked away along the Oklahoma/Texas border, about halfway between Oklahoma City and Dallas, and around 20 miles south of Ardmore, Oklahoma. This is a true fly-in restaurant, since the restaurant has its very own airfield. (As opposed to an airfield with its own restaurant.) Identified on the Dallas-Ft Worth sectional chart as McGehee Catfish (T40), the well maintained 2450’x55’ sod strip is even lit for night operations. This airfield lighting is good for business, since the restaurant is only open for dinner on weekdays from 5:00-9:30. On Saturday and Sunday hours lengthen to 1:00-9:30. McGehee’s is closed on Wednesdays.

From the air, McGehee Catfish is easily overlooked, especially on hazy or cloudy days. The airstrip is well camouflaged by the surrounding trees, and a gravel road crossing the runway midfield helps complete the illusion that this couldn’t possibly be the right place. Progra10m N33 54.00, W097 10.01 into your GPS, or triangulate off the ARDMORE VORTAC 174 radial (at 18.7 DME) and the TEXOMA VOR 261 radial (at 38.7 DME) and you’ll find it no problem. The small field is nestled along the banks of the Red River, west of Interstate 35. The restaurant is located at the south end of the strip, and a small stream running into the Red River runs just past the north end. The runway slopes from south to north, so — wind permitting — a south landing on 17 and north takeoff on 35 are advisable.

You might work up an appetite on the somewhat tricky final approach to runway 17, especially if the winds are uncooperative. (This is Oklahoma, after all, count on uncooperative winds!) The approach end of runway 17 lies at the bottom of a small valley, with trees creating a number of obstacles, especially one large Grand-daddy tree just to the right of centerline on short final. Once past the trees, the runway surface is a nicely compacted smooth grass, though a bit slippery and soft when wet. On rollout be careful of that road crossing midfield, it is carved slightly into the strip and has created a small bump. The effect is not major, even for our “low-rider” Mooney, but it should be a deterrent to landing long or fast.

We parked the Mooney in the grass to the west of the approach end of runway 35, then walked the roughly 100 yards to the McGehee Catfish Restaurant. The décor is classic for this style of restaurant; lots or rustic wood clapboards on the outside, and primitive western collectibles adorning the inside. The spacious dining room overlooks the meandering Red River that defines the border between Oklahoma and Texas. The catfish dinner is served family style all-you-can-eat, with platters piled high with farm-raised catfish filets, rolled in cornmeal then deep fried in peanut oil to perfection. Mounds of fries, hushpuppies, and coleslaw very appropriately complete this fish fest. Since not all pallets are tuned to the “subtle” flavor of catfish, there are plenty of other options on the menu, mainly steaks and the ubiquitous burger. Be warned though, even non-catfish lovers will easily become “hooked” on the succulent, flaky catfish morsels served up by the friendly, efficient staff at McGehee Catfish!

All dinners are very reasonably priced, and McGehee’s accepts Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. Brush up on you short and soft field techniques BEFORE going, and remember they are closed on Wednesdays. Plan on getting hooked.

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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publishing, Inc. and the staff neither assume any responsibilty for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising out of it. Fly safe.