The alarm went at 6am and I rolled out of bed. I had quite a good sleep and really could have slept longer but today was the start of what I started all this for.
A quick peek out the door and it was clear the marine layer was back in with a low base. Things weren't going to go to plan, timing wise. However we continued in hope and headed off, via Starbucks again. On arrival I preflighted the Falco and waited for Joe from the FAA to arrive. He was there on time and was very helpful as usual. Unfortunately we had to make him wait as I didn't think it was a cleaver idea to take a plane on a test flight in an unfamiliar airspace with poor weather. He was cool with that. After about and hour and a half it started to clear so we dragged the plane out, I gave it one last look over. Filed a plan and departed for a short flight. It was a busy flight and was quite exhilarating. I would have liked a little more capacity to have a more relaxed view but it was fun just the same. Once I got back, Joe met me again, shook my hand with his good wishes and we were cleared for the Kiwi Oshkosh Adventure departure.
Darryn and I loaded up the machine, I had a look around the machine again, I filed a plan and received the longest brief of my life, and we were off!
The controllers were great. Clearly the Kiwi reg on the plane and the aircraft type caught them off guard a bit. Not helped by our accents but they were super helpful. Again, what great service. We got a clearance up through class C to 7500' and settled in for our two hour flight to Sedona.
The first thing I really remember of note was after levelling off at cruise altitude and flying for about 30 mins I had been spending so much time inside and scanning the airspace I hadn't really looked at the terrain.
At that point I relaxed a bit and looked out at the desert. I really wasn't ready for it. “Holy S#1+”. Now that's a desert. Straight away I realised one important thing I hadn't planned for and hadn't appreciated. If we went down on that we wouldn't survive with the limited water we had. I stopped drinking to preserve what little water we had. I didn't want to mention it to Darryn but on comparing notes later, he had the same thought. It really is hostile. Never again will I call the desert road in NZ the desert road. There's nothing desert about it.
Along the way we altered course slightly to avoid the big suck from CBs forming above us. But all in all we had a pretty decent ride considering the later than planned arrival time into SEZ.
As we approached Sedona the terrain became familiar to what we had studied. The airfield is purched on to of a plateau. It really is an airfield in the sky. I was a bit too busy to take in the scenery at that stage as I was contemplating the effects the strange airfield location would have on my approach.
After landing we checked in at the local FBO for fuel for the next day and went and had lunch at the Meza Grill. What a cool place to eat with the best scenery I've ever seen.
After lunch we refuelled and ordered a taxi to our hotel. On the drive from the airport we went past a lookout point. As we started driving down the road on the edge of the ridge the vista of the northern ranges with the stunning red layers rocks came into view. I had just finished exhaling and I literally couldn't great in. It truly was breathtaking. It's indescribable but as Vicki says, this place has to be on your bucket list.
The lady at the hotel was really friendly. Showed us some of the places to see. Unfortunately since we had been held up in Chino the day was short so we doing really have the time.
The rest of the day we wandered around taking photos. Mine just iPhone and Derwood on the flash gear. We had pizza and beer for tea for a wind down. What a day.
Below is some photos of the Sedona vistas. Hard to do it justice through the iPhone but good photos to come.