Ken Jernstedt Airfield (4S2) and Twin Peaks Drive-in Restaurant are located not far from the banks of the Columbia River, 45 nautical miles east of Portland in the town of Hood River. Here the river forms the border between Washington on the north side and Oregon on the south. This is the heart of the Columbia River Gorge and the gorge is known for wind. This picturesque, prehistoric ice age cut canyon produces ever shifting, finicky winds making the gorge the perfect place to practice crosswind landings. Additionally, the Gorge has a long history of agriculture, winemaking, world-class windsurfing and is home of the award-winning Full Sail Brewing microbrewery.
Small airstrips have a certain atmosphere that can’t be found in larger airports and Ken Jernstedt doesn’t disappoint. It may seem unremarkable but this nontowered, GA airfield has quite a bit to offer. This aerodrome has a single 3,100-foot by 75-foot paved asphalt runway with an adjacent 1,200-foot grass strip. It doesn’t have published instrument procedures or any special arrival/departure procedures but it does have a beacon and pilot controlled lighting. There is no south taxiway, so when landing to the east, exit onto the north taxiway and crossover runway 7/25 at the 800 foot mark to arrive at Classic Wings Aero Services.
Classic Wings is the definition of a small, quaint FBO. It offers scenic flight tours, flight training, self serve 100LL, several Cessna aircraft for rent, a small amount of pilot supplies for sale, courtesy cars and bicycles, free WiFi and remarkably good free coffee. The 40-acre airport complex is also the base of the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM). This 95,000-square-foot, two-hanger development has been open since September 2007 and houses one of the largest collections of flying antique aircraft and drivable antique automobiles in the country.
After tying down near the fuel pump on the south side of the field in front of the FBO, take the short 5-minute walk west down Airport Way to Tucker Road and Twin Peak's Drive-In Restaurant. Twin Peaks is a nondescript, rough looking shack of a building. Blink and you might miss it. It looks characterless but it’s deceiving. This place is actually jumping.
Walk into this 5-booth, 20-seat bustling pressboard diner and be prepared to wait at the order window. The phone will be constantly ringing with patrons calling in for take-out orders. Twin Peaks feels like a cross between the bar on the sitcom Cheers and Chicago’s Billy Goat Tavern & Grill made famous by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live ("Cheezborger! Cheezborger! No fries, cheeps! No Pepsi, Coke!"). It’s an American drive-in without the car hops. There’s just Barb and Linda to do it all.
The menu is pure classic hamburger joint. The burgers are hand-formed, pure beef patties, cooked to order and to temperature, juicy, flavorful and filling. Not only are there plenty of sizes from the mini ($2.25) to the jumbo ($3.50) and he super ($5.75), but there are also plenty of choices ranging from plain to bacon-cheese ($4.25) and mushroom-Swiss ($4.25). The sandwich list is not vey extensive but does offer the basics. Standards such as the Patty melt, ham & cheese, BLT and a fried “fishwich” ($3.25-$4.50) are a bit ordinary and don’t show off what the tiny kitchen can do. Rather, stick with the hot turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s a standout, tasting like Thanksgiving on a bun ($6.50).