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Northern Arizona
from Ground and Air

 

Sedona, Arizona

The Return Journey from
the 2004 IPMS USA Nationals

by Brett Green


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On the ground...

 

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 side-trip.

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.

 

 

...and in the air

 

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!


 

Photography

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.

 

 

Additional Images

 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


Model, Images and Article Copyright 2004 by Brett Green
Page Created 13 August, 2004
Last updated 09 July 2005

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