Flyabouts – After the Storm

It’s common to hear pilots dispute the pros and cons of aircraft ownership. Typically, the most critical ones will come to the conclusion that renting airplanes is always more cost effective that owning, unless you happen to be one of those fortunate folks that has both the time and the means to fly well over 100 hours a year.

Yet, there are personal intangibles involved with owning that can never be assessed with cold, hard numbers. The value of such intangibles is ever-so-subjective, and as such, rarely survive any deep debate. They can be such things as:

  • Sitting under your wing in a lawnchair with a friend, watching the locals do touch and goes.
  • Peaceful Saturday afternoon oil-and-spark-plug changes.
  • Weekend trips to the beach with 90 minutes notice, after a hard week.
  • Sunset, sitting under the wing with your sweetie, a good glass of Zinfandel (and bug spray), talking to your campsite neighbors as they stroll beside the runway.
  • Nice, whole VFR days away from the office.
  • And simple unscripted go-see-the-sights flights when you find a couple of precious spare hours.

I sometimes call these latter events “flyabouts”. They’re always VFR exercises, simple pilotage from one chart feature to another, just enjoying the view, the air under my butt, and the wonder of the world around me. Sometimes they turn into stunning “I’m so lucky to be here, alive, and seeing this” moments too.

One of these came along in mid-January. A heavy, wet, El Nino-sponsored storm came through the southwest for the better part of the week, dumping multiple feet of snow on the Colorado Plateau and the Arizona high country.

I was in Texas on business for most of that week and missed seeing the weather, but I did get a chance on the following Sunday afternoon to go flying for a few hours. At first, it was just a typical follow-a-canyon proficiency flight, then I saw the snow in the terrain over 5000′. And so, it turned out to be one of those days I’m always thankful for. Witness…

Mogollon Rim just north of Payson, AZ, facing south, climbing through 8500′. Edge shrouded in thin clouds, trees still wrapped in snow and frost:

Over Superior, AZ, descending through 10K. 300 mile visibility aloft, wet and hazy under 3000′, looking southeast with Mt. Graham and then New Mexico in the distance:

Too many photos to post here, but I certainly thought that sharing a few was worthwhile.


3 Responses to “Flyabouts – After the Storm”

  1. 1 Miranda February 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    You should totally take one of those photos and turn into your blog banner. They’re beautiful!

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