Flying never to forget (part 1)

Catching up Sunday 22nd April (part 1)

What a day! What a day!

My thanks, again, to my host Damien and his wife. Awake just after 5am, by 5:30am Damien’s father in law was cooking breakfast for three. Just what was needed for the day ahead!

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What a photographer!

Albuquerque pilots prefer to fly early and be back at base, Double Eagle, by around 9am. This allows them to fly close to the stunning scenery without fear of thermic or gusty conditions caused by the intense heat that builds during  the day. Either that or they all have jobs they need to get to.

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Frank and Damien. Damien’s stance proves he has what it takes.

Today, the weather, and therefore flying conditions, were perfect. These conditions are the reason 5 trike pilots took to the air, just after sunrise (I was told my presence may have been a factor, but I am not convinced). Lead by Damien Beresford, then myself, then Mark Morton, Michael Hyde and Frank Roush, all 5 danced a merry dance through the still air towards the red coloured cliff edges, mesa’s and the many extinct volcanoes.

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Frank taxies for departure

The population is sparse, roads are dirt, long and empty.  This provides ample ‘outs’, landing on almost any road, should a problem arise. As every pilot knows, its wise to practice emergency situations, simulating problems and carrying out the necessary actions. Perfect excuse for  landing on a road somewhere. As a new ‘runway’ is discovered, a name is often given to that stretch of road. “Dirt road” doesn’t look too good in the logbook. Following Michael Hyde’s lead, I selected a stretch of road.

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Michael Hyde lifts after christening another landing spot, Rock Windows Road

As I touched down on the deserted gravel road “Stalkers Landing” was born.  Not sure if it was noticed at the time, but Stalkers landing actually had two runways. A bend in the road, led to the departure being on a different heading (runway) than the landing.Stalkers Landing

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Damien leading the way

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A cloud or Damien’s exhuast plume trailing. You decide!

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Damien approaching the play area.

I have always equated flying a microlight as like having your own personal roller coaster, with added stunning views. The image below goes some way to prove my analogy.

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snippets of the BZIM’s flight path

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No one around for miles, but us trikes.

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A 6th trike, flown by Henry Howe joins in the fun

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5 trikes pull in for a cuppa.

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Frank flying whilst 5 pilots on the ground, look on in envy.

One of the goals of this outing was to try obtain some stunning aerial photography of the BZIM set against the beauty of the New Mexico landscape. Damien scored many goals. The remaining images were all taken by Damien. (click image for larger view)

 

 

Finally it was time to say good-bye to my new flying friends. My adventure must continue. Damien suggested a routing further south than I had initially planned, simply to save time. Visiting the Canyonlands and landing at a dirt strip in a canyon, would no longer take place. I could see the dirt strip landing would be no different from what I had just been doing. Landing at Bluff and the canyons around that area, along with Lake Powell would lesson any disappointment about missing the Canyonlands. I left the remaining pilots around 9:30am, thirty minutes past their usual return time. They were even talking about heading to another area to “play”. Perhaps the cut-off time 9am never really existed, or they are pushing those limits, or perhaps because it was Sunday, they didn’t have to be at work. I’ll let them answer that in the comments!

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Michael, Mark, Me, Henry and Damien

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