Low and Slow over the Desert, and Thoughts on Life


A while back I posted my story of Flying the Desert Southwest. Recently I came across this YouTube video on www.Beechtalk.com. This clip is of a group of guys flying their light aircraft over the very same desert locations in Utah and Arizona as I did flying solo in the Bonanza almost two years ago. It brought back a lot of great memories.

The scenery in the first 5 minutes of this video is just incredible, as is the aerial ballet. It reminds you how beautiful this country really is, and how lucky we are to have the freedom to traverse it in a small plane. My favorite aerial spots are the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers, just south of The Island in the Sky, Monument Valley, (where most of John Wayne’s westerns were filmed), The Needles, The Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Like you, I have crisscrossed this country many times at FL350, as a passenger in commercial aircraft. But there is nothing more exciting and liberating than skimming the landscape at 200 feet AGL. Those folks concentrating on their Sudoku puzzles in coach class have no idea what they are missing. Nor would they likely care.

Full screen is best!

The aircraft used in the video are Aircam Twin engine models. I have seen these unusual aircraft up close at Sun-n-Fun in Lakeland. These planes are open cockpit, powered by light-weight Rotax engines. They sound a lot like a weed-wacker, at least compared to the throaty rumble of my IO-550 Continental engine. AirCams were originally designed as twin-engine photo/video platforms for scientific aerial surveying over rainforests and other remote areas of the world. You can buy a kit and build your own AirCam for about $100k.

Twice now I have flown solo to the desert southwest from my home base in Florida.  I was able to successfully complete these trips because of my desire to learn to fly and my passion for travel. I thought I had scratched this item off my bucket list, but after seeing this video, I know I have to go again.

One final thought: This is a line in the 1990’s romantic comedy Pretty Woman  that bookends the film.

 “Welcome to Hollywood. What’s your dream? Everybody has a dream. What’s your dream?” 

How would you respond to that question? Do you have the courage to pursue your dreams? Do your friends and family support your endeavors? Or do they judge?

One of my dreams was to learn to fly, and eventually completing a trip out west in a small plane. I am fortunate to have a wife that supports my love of flying and my passion for aviation. There have been a few people in my life that were not so understanding, and that has ended more than one relationship. If I had played it safe, I never would have seen the things I’ve seen or done the things I’ve done.

 There are likely people in your life that want you to conform to their idea of whom they think you should be. My advice is never to let people like that stand in the way of your dreams, whatever they may be, regardless of the consequences. You alone are responsible for living life to its fullest and realizing your greatest potential.

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