from Ground and Air
The Return Journey
the 2004 IPMS USA Nationals
by Brett Green
proudly supported by Squadron.com
Following the IPMS USA Nationals, I had an extra day available
before my flight. I thought that the Grand Canyon might make a nice
stop on the way back to Los Angeles. Jerry Crandall suggested that I
should take a detour off the Interstate to visit Sedona. I was in no
particular rush, so I allowed a couple of extra hours for the
Jaw dropping scenery came into view minutes after turning onto
Highway 179. The unikely shapes of the landscape looked like a giant sand painting. The stark contrast between the azure sky and
the red rocks left the impression of an alien landscape.
After the tenth photo stop in around three miles, I recalled
Jerry Crandall telling me about a T-6 that used to fly from Sedona
Airport. If Sedona had an airport maybe somebody would offer joy
flights. I struck off in search of the airport, which I found more
quickly than I expected.
As I pulled into the airport car park I was heartened to see two
immaculate red Wacos parked behind the wire fence. Beside the
taxiway was also a yellow T-6 Texan. This must be the right place!
We'll be seeing more of the Wacos and the T-6 in the coming days.
I was offered the choice between a 15 minute local flight in the
Waco, or a two hour overflight of the Grand Canyon and surrounds,
both being about the same price. My heart said Waco but my head said
Cessna. My head won.
I returned the following morning for the flight. The other four
passengers were travelling in pairs so I got to sit up front with
the pilot. "I'll try to keep my feet off the rudder pedals" I said.
"That'd be good", replied the pilot with an 'oh-no-not-one-of-these-smart-arse-types'
expression on his face.
The Cessna lifted off smoothly. We traversed a wide range of
eco-systems in our short flight. I was surprised to see dense pine
forests next to arid desert. Deeply cut gorges and high mountains,
formed from millions of years of weathering and geological action,
provided the groundwork for this spectacular scenery.
The two hours of the flight passed quickly.
Close to Sedona, the airport was easy to spot from the air. The
strip was carved from the top of a hill with a steep drop on all
four sides. It is certainly one of the more interesting and
picturesque airfields that I have ever seen.
Sitting in the co-pilot's position I had a perfect view of final
approach and the landing.
One more treat awaited on the trip back to Los Angeles.
The road between Sedona and Flagstaff climbed and wound through
pine forest. The trees filtered sunlight into a bright mottle on the
black tar, and the crisp smell of pine was in the air. I wound down
the window to feel the wind in my hair - well, on my scalp really -
and was treated to a cool breeze. What a delight after the
oppressive heat of the previous days.
The remainder of the journey was more than 500 miles across the
comparatively featureless Mohave Desert before battling once again
with Los Angeles traffic.
Sometimes, spontaneous side trips and surprise discoveries can be
the highlight of a journey. Sedona was an unexpected jewel in the
crown of an already memorable trip to the USA.
So the moral of this story is, if Jerry Crandall ever suggests a
detour on a road trip, take his advice. It worked for me!
Photographs were taken with a Nikon D70 digital SLR fitted with a
Nikkor VR AF-S ED 24-120mm lens. The camera was set to Programmed
Auto at an ASA rating of 200.
Images were reduced in size and optimised in Photoshop CS.
Click the thumbnails below
to view larger images:
Images and Article Copyright © 2004 by
Created 13 August, 2004
09 July 2005
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