Tuesday, October 30, 2012

KPGA

A little airplane over a Grand Canyon.
Is this Mars?
I use Google Reader to keep me updated on the various blogs and aviation forums. One of my favorites has been http://sportpilottalk.com/ probably because it is devoted to Light Sport Flying. When planning this trip Roger Lee posted an invitation to attend the 6th Annual CT Fly-in at Page, AZ. He provided links to previous events which included beautiful videos showing CT's flying over phenomenal landscapes. Of course the problem is I don't fly a CT. So I called him to ask if this was really an exclusive event. On the contrary, he repeatedly assured me that not only would we be welcomed but we would considered a part of the Light Sport family! He was so sincere I decided to give it a try.

The flight from Sedona took about 2 hours in choppy headwinds. We passed to the right Humphrey's peak and saw portions of the painted desert, along with other wonderful scenery. This land might as well be a different planet for all of the differences compared to the east coast. Words can not describe it, it must be experienced.

Beautiful places to fly.
Ron & Jan's CT
We arrived at Page and were hosted by Classic Aviation. Dan was running the desk and couldn't have been more hospitable. I was stating to feel comfortable when another pilot looked at my PiperSport T-shirt and said, "You know you're the enemy don't you." Well, I come in peace. Fortunately we shared a van to the hotel and confirmed that he was joking and we were indeed welcome. phew.

Wonderful host
After check-in there was an informal congregation in the lobby. Pilots were discussing plans for the next day's (pre event) fly out and most were interested in Monument Valley. Ron and Jan wanted to do the Grand Canyon which was the top of my list, so we arranged to meet in the morning for a briefing. Ron was prepared with charts and frequencies, I was not. He became the flight leader. He became my friend.

This was a flight of a lifetime.  Imagine flying your own plane, in formation with another, over the Grand Canyon. About 2 hours is all it took. I can't think of any superlatives to give it justice. His pictures are wonderful but honestly fall well short of reality.

KPGA
As great as this was there was something else here, more subtle going on. We had a group dinner that night as "the official kick off" for the event. 60+ people in a room all enthusiastic about Light Sport Aviation. Mostly gray hair, but a few younger folks as well. Pilots from all over the country here, just to enjoy flying. It is not a fly-in like the others. You can't buy headsets or Ipad apps or the latest aviation gadget here. You come here to fly. Thanks Roger.




video
 *Our schedule just didn't line up properly. We had to be back in Scottsdale Friday evening for other appointments. As we were leaving the FBO a pilot came in wearing a cap with Navy Wings. Turns out he is a former P3 Pilot and flew out Jacksonville.  We traded stories about times past. Small world.

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