Thursday, March 15, 2012

Window Rock, Arizona

Lots more wind in New MexicoArizona and Utah 
It blasted on and on, week after week, with hardly a break.  
Locals said it blew a lot more and for longer than usual this year....
So lots of ‘ride-em cowboy’ flights in that little ultralight....

Now the procedure became one of picking a geographical or historical feature that I wanted to fly around, then looking at the sectional charts (1:500,000 scale same as VNC) to identify a suitable airfield nearby, and then heading there.  An iPad with AirNav installed was essential for finding small airfields by road.  The road GPS often doesn’t list small airfields, and even locals sometimes can’t give correct road directions to their airfield.  And with such a trailer in tow, can easily get stuck at the end of a narrow road with no way turn around....   

I always received open and friendly welcomes at every airfield where I showed up and asked if I could set up and fly from there.  Then there were many puzzled looks when they saw me pull in and park, then pull the back end off the trailer and roll it away, then unload the aircraft and unfold it, then hop in and fly away.  Many times I heard the comment, “...Hey, that’s really cool!...”

This was mid-summer and mostly in the desert, so pretty hot, and lots of rough thermals at mid-day, so of course the only sensible time to fly was early morning, and just before sundown.  This also gives the best light for photography.  So the routine was to drive through the heat of the day, then set up at the next destination late in the day, to be ready for a flight early the next morning.  Then pack it all up and away again.  Flew from 48 airfields in 14 states....

Flights were only about an hour each, due to the Part 103 limitation of only 5 gallons fuel, which was an endurance of about 1hr 40min.  With a cruise speed of 60 mph, an unexpected 20 mph headwind coming home can really mess up fuel planning, so need to keep a good reserve...  Of course the GPS was essential for judging ground speed, and avoiding restricted areas, and there’s some very serious military restricted areas out in that desert....  A little hand-held radio served well for working with traffic in circuit.


14 May 2012
Flying out of Window Rock, Arizona.

A monument to the Navajo code talkers.

Window Rock is the administrative center of the Navajo Nation.

These were the first rock formations that I saw on the trip.
As the trip went on the rocks got bigger and bigger
and more impressive.
There are a lot more photos of rocks to come......

A dust storm came roaring through.
Luckily the aircraft was in the trailer.
And that's a great advantage of travelling with a trailer/hangar.

Next morning, peaceful as you could wish for.

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