Sedona Airport Loop
Sedona, a land of timeless beauty, surrounded by magnificent, natural red rock sculptures and pristine National Forest. Standing about 4,300ft above sea level, centrally located less than two hours north of Phoenix and just two hours south of the Grand Canyon, it is one of the most spectacular secrets of the world. Erosion has sculptured this masterpiece for over 350 million years.
As we drove north, I was almost disappointed. All that we saw were pine trees and the landscape looked no different from other countrysides. When we had set off it was hot and 90 degrees.
“Isn’t early morning better for a flight?” I had asked.
“No, anytime is fine,” was the response.
Checking the forecast that morning, I wondered how the day would play out. With thunderstorms in the forecast, chances of pulling off this flight were diminishing. I weighed the odds of planning something else as opposed to keeping the afternoon open and have my flying plans cancelled.
We arrived at Flagstaff (FLG) airport a little early, eager to take to the skies. Fred, the instructor at Wiseman Aviation who was going to fly with us had assured us that thunderstorms in the forecast were not a factor. In no time we preflighted and departed with me at the controls and Fred’s able guidance. He made sure to remind me about the the departure procedures, density altitude and other necessary details. Fred was also our tour guide, as he pointed out landmarks along the way – painted dessert, canyons, native American dwellings, dormant volcanoes, Sun coast crater, ski areas and more.
When I put together my flying bucket list a few years ago, I had added Sedona and Grand Canyon as an after thought. My interest had been sparked by the beautiful aerial images that Greg Brown had posted on his blog and in articles he has written over the years. Despite seeing the images, and reading the articles, nothing really prepares one for the incredible views not just from the air, but even from the ground.
We looped around flying turns about a point over key landmarks, awestruck by the natural beauty of the land, painstakingly etched over millions of years. With lots of help from Fred, I made my first landing at Sedona (SEZ). Taxing back, we took off again and this time climbed slowly to 10,500ft as we overflew Falgstaff airspace to make our way to the Flagstaff Snowbowl, a ski area very popular during the winter months. With spring here, the ski areas were deserted. But we could easily identify the ski slopes, the ski lifts and resort area.
In good time we retraced our path back to Flagstaff and all too soon the flight ended. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend looking up Wiseman Aviation. If you have the time, you can do an aircraft checkout and rent an aircraft to fly. If not, take Fred.
Sedona does have a restaurant on the field: Mesa Grill. Although we did not stop on the day of the flight for a meal, we did have breakfast there. And I highly recommend staying at the Sky Ranch Lodge that is next to the airport and within walking distance to the Mesa Grill. While there, hike the airport loop for some spectacular views of the Sedona red canyons!
And that bucket list item, I think I will leave it on.
I almost missed this milestone.
This month marked two decades since my first intro flight when I officially began my flight training. Has it really been that long?
I still fondly and vividly remember that day like yesterday, when I flew my first solo.
Or that first cross country I made to King City, that made me nervous I would get lost. Or better yet that second long cross-country to South County airport that required two go-arounds, to the ire of others in the traffic pattern.
Or the first foray to Bakersfield after getting my ticket and getting lost for dialing in the wrong VOR frequency and having a non-functioning transponder! How about that first ILS approach into Watsonville in actual IMC after getting my instrument rating ?
Or that time I took my friend from college to Monterey and experienced my first instrument failure.
Or the long solo cross country to satisfy the requirements for commercial pilot license.
Seems like yesterday 🙂
After a fun evening and morning spent with family and friends, my copilot and I reconvened a little before noon at Republic Airport for the return trip back to the Mid Atlantic. Aircraft fueled and preflighted, we set off north this time. The plan was to circumvent the busy NY airspace around JFK and LGA airports from the northeast and fly down the Hudson River from the north heading south before flying back home.
The airwaves were quieter on Easter Sunday and the air smooth as we made our way south. There was not a cloud in sight but sadly haze still clung around the area preventing crisp, crystal clear photographs and videos. We flew southbound reporting all the check points along the way: Alpine Tower, GWB, Intrepid, Clock and Statue of Liberty. We descended lower to 800 ft as we practiced our turns about the point over the Statue of Liberty.
Tracing the eastern New Jersey shore past Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, Ocean City and Sea Isle City we landed at Cape May, the southern tip of New Jersey a little after 2:00 pm. Cape May Airport (KWWD) is a general aviation airport with 2 major runways.
Once a Naval Air Station, it is currently a civilian airport and houses the Aviation Museum in Hanger 1. The Flight Deck Diner is located in the main terminal building and open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. Unfortunately, we had forgotten to check the operating hours of the restaurant, after feeding the aircraft at the self serve fuel station, my copilot and I headed home, sans any veg(ham) burger. If you did get one at Cape May, drop me a line 🙂
“The year 2000 marked not just a new decade but also a new century. The previous century saw the birth of powered, heavier-than-air flight and the amazing development of this world-changing technology. The 20th Century also saw the horrors of two world wars, the Great Depression, the tension of a cold war, the Civil Rights movement, the space race, the spread of democracy, the rise of the internet, and significant advancement for women.
It is unlikely the first decade of the 21st Century will be considered any type of Golden Age. September 11th, 2001 — more simply known as “9/11″ — was a day of tragedy, keenly felt by all of us for whom flying is an integral part of our lives”
Quoted from the April 2017 Aviatrix Aerogram
Flying was lighthearted, fun and innocent until 9/11. That changed everything. Not immediately, but in the months and years following that tragic event. Living in California the impact was not as strong, but still prevalent. I am more cautious of what I say and how I behave in the wake of 9/11.
Although I flew three or four times back in 1998, my first official flying lesson was in August 2000 and I got my private pilot certificate in May 2001, and Instrument rating in May 2004. Although I started my first round of Commercial flight training in fall 2006, I am yet to complete it.
I had a terrific support group with members from my local 99s chapter (SLO99s). Several of us learnt to fly at the same time. We did cross-country flights together, interacted with controllers and other pilots to organize events: we sponsored discovery flights, mentored high school girls, supported airport day events such as Tower Tours, organized safety seminars, and sponsored scholarships.
Fun Flyouts from the 2000s
Note: A version of this appears in the April 2017 Aviatrix Aerogram
Video courtesy Gert
Republic airport is located in Farmingdale, Long Island. Nestled between the bustling Class Bravo Airspace surrounding the New York John F. Kennedy airport to the west and the Class Charlie airspace surrounding Islip, Long Island MacArthur Airport to the west, it is a busy general aviation airport, a stone’s throw away from the Big Apple.
After a leisurely lunch at Montauk Point, my copilot and I walked the short distance back to the airport and departed for the short hop to Republic airport where we planned to overnight. The skies had cleared and the sun was shining brightly as we retraced our path, following the South shore over the rich and ostentatious Hamptons, home of the rich and elite.
The air was smooth along the shore, but as we tuned to Republic airport, we could hear pilot reports (PIREP) of moderate turbulence and chop. The airspace was busy with valiant student pilots conducting landing practice and others arriving and departing the area. Other than some slight excitement during landing, the flight was uneventful.
There are three FBOs on the field and all had good reviews, but based on fuel prices we opted for Talon Air. The airport has a landing fee of $20 and tie down fee is waived if 15 gallons of fuel is purchased. We left the aircraft parked at Talon for the night and head out to hang out with family and friends.
There is no restaurant on the field. But transportation arrangements can be made with the FBO. There is an Air power museum on the field.
Note: Photos and video courtesy Gert
Video courtesy: Gert