Sunday, March 9, 2014

Off to AZ!

A couple weeks ago I got to spend a few days out in Sedona, Arizona, catching up with my friends Timmy and Tara. It started out as a simple comment on one of my Facebook posts...I had posted a picture of my C172 all covered in snow, and Timmy commented that I should come out to AZ and do his BFR (Biennial Flight Review). A few weeks later, I posted another frozen airplane picture and he made a similar comment. By that point I was pretty tired of the snow and sent him a message that if he was serious, I'd be on my way out there as soon as we picked some dates that worked for all of us.

A few weeks and a last minute flight cancellation and rescheduling later, I was on my way! (Little did I know that this picture I took at the gate at Dulles would be the one leg of the trip that wasn't a total mess.)

I was scheduled to connect in Denver and arrive at Phoenix around 11pm. (Note - my original flight would have put me in Phoenix around 6:30pm. Much more reasonable, considering I had worked the mid the night before and was running on three hours of sleep.) I only had an hour to make the connection, but it turns out I had nothing to worry about because by the time I landed in Denver Southwest had delayed my outbound flight by an hour and a half. Awesome. I texted Timmy, then grabbed some pizza since I no longer had to run to the next plane. I finally met up with Timmy and Tara in Phoenix somewhere around 12:30am.

It took almost two hours to get back to their house in Sedona, but it flew by. You know how with some people, even if you don't see them for years, when you get back together it's like you didn't miss a beat? It was great to see them both, and we spent the entire ride catching up on stuff. We got back to their house sometime after 2am, they gave me a quick tour and introduced me to their dogs (two Rhodesian Ridgebacks - Kunda and Simba), and we all headed for bed. 

I heard a noise outside my bedroom door just before I went to bed...Simba came to say goodnight again.   :)

Since it was pitch black outside when we were driving up to Sedona from the airport, I had no idea what any of the scenery was like. Which made for a fun surprise when I woke up the next morning, rolled over in bed, and opened the shades to look outside.

I wish my front yard had a view like this!

We all grabbed some breakfast, then Tara left for a golf tournament. Timmy did some work on his computer, then took a break for a little while and we took the dogs for a walk.

Just saying, I wouldn't mind trails like these close to my house.   :)

Timmy did some more work in the afternoon, then we spent some time going over some of the ground stuff for his flight review before making our way out to the airport. Timmy has a Columbia 400 and bases it at Sedona Airport (SEZ), so I knew the flight part of the BFR was going to be fun, despite Timmy's insistence that I wouldn't think that once I saw how rusty he was in the air.

Looking down Runway 3. The airport sits on the mesa in the middle of the picture; it has to be one of the easiest airports to find from the air.

Since we had two days to fly, we used the first flight to just buzz around a bit so Timmy could get comfortable again since he hadn't flown in a while.

The clouds had been blocking the sun for most of the flight, but after a while the sun dipped below the cloud layer and lit up the whole valley. It was pretty sweet.   :)

It started to get dark a little while later, so we buzzed around some of the rocks and made our way back toward the airport. You can just see the runway; it's the clearing in the upper right part of the picture, on the other side of the rocks.

The G1000 has a terrain display; if it's yellow, the terrain is less than 1000' below you, and if it's red the terrain is within 100' of your altitude (or you are below it). Needless to say, we had a fun flight.

We eventually landed, put the plane away, and made our way back to their house for dinner. I think we were all pretty tired after staying up the night before, so we went to bed fairly early. We had more fun stuff planned for the next day!

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