Tag: N8475Y

Oh, Shenandoah!

A few days of beautiful weather in June 2021 gave us an opportunity to hop into N8475Y and fly from our home airport of Manassas, VA (KHEF) to Asheville, NC (KAVL). We flew south along the Blue Ridge Mountains — at marshmallow-cloud level. Interesting how the clouds hugged the mountain range all the way down.

We had been to Asheville before, and this time we really enjoyed staying in — and walking around — the heart of the historic downtown district. A highlight of our visit was a whitewater rafting trip down the French Broad River — a fun and splashy ride (Class I-IV) down a beautiful river. On the Blue Ridge Parkway, we also enjoyed making the short hike through Craggy Gardens and up to Craggy Pinnacle for a gorgeous 360-degree view at 5,817′.

Air Traffic Control approved our request to make several aerial circles above the Biltmore estate at just 1,000′ above — we had visited there a number of years ago, and enjoyed seeing it from above. Come along with us on this fun trip by watching Bob’s short video below. Some of our favorite snapshots are also below; click on any of them to start a slideshow.

See more 75Y adventuresfollow us on Flight Aware and check us out on Instagram — we post with the hashtag: #N8475Y.

Flight to Niagara Falls

Horseshoe Falls at bottom; American Falls in center. Canada on left; US on right.

We made a spur-of-the-moment trip up to see this beautiful natural wonder in May 2021 with dear friends Tom & June. Finally the weather was clear on both ends of the trip for the ~2-hour flight from our home airport of Manassas, VA (KHEF) in N8475Y, our Piper Twin Comanche.

Watch Bob’s short video on our Niagara adventure — and scroll down for a few more photos and story.

Visiting the Falls had been on my (Diana’s) list for quite some time; Bob had visited many years ago, as had Tom & June. And all four of us had visited Victoria Falls (southern Africa), so it was also interesting to contrast and compare.

Arriving in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, we entered the very specific flight pattern for fixed-wing aircraft: maximum speed 130 knots, clockwise circuit, above 3,500′, staying below Rainbow Bridge and above the dam. A tight circuit! We made two clockwise circuits before landing at nearby Niagara Falls International Airport (KIAG). It was great to get this aerial perspective before spending some time up-close-and-personal with the Falls.

Our hotel (Sheraton) was in a great location, and we walked everywhere. We were blessed with excellent weather and NO crowds. Alas, the Canadian border was closed due to the pandemic, as I think it would have been interesting to see the Falls from that perspective — it looks like they have better views, to be honest.

As you can see from Bob’s video, three of us took the Maid of the Mist boat ride … into what is basically completely different weather down at the foot of the Falls! Very windy and rainy — like buckets! We saw thousands of seagulls; I didn’t realize they could be so far inland.

How does Niagara compare with Victoria? I would say that Victoria Falls are much larger — wider and more volume of water. But it’s a very different experience between the two, because Victoria Falls descend into a narrow slot — no boat ride, no visiting it at river level. They are both very dramatic and stunning, just different. You can view photos & video of our 2018 trip to Victoria Falls. We also made a 2003 trip to Victoria Falls.

The morning of departure, we again flew two clockwise circuits over the Falls — just beautiful. We learned the Falls are 12,500 years old … they are slowly eroding and won’t be here in 10,000 years. So be sure to go before then!

(Click any photo to start a slideshow.)

See more 75Y adventuresfollow us on Flight Aware and check us out on Instagram — we post with the hashtag: #N8475Y.

Westward Ho!

During these strange pandemic times, many people are packing up the car or the RV and heading out to see this great nation of ours. In that spirit, we packed up our 1967 Piper Twin Comanche (N8475Y) and headed out West (Sept. 2020).

You can view Pilot Bob’s short video here, and scroll down to read more about our great western adventure.

Our route; we started at Manassas, VA (KHEF).
Over western Ohio

Pilot Bob is a meticulous planner and he found a big good-weather window — we enjoyed excellent weather the entire two-week trip.

We started out from our home airport (Manassas KHEF) in Virginia, crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains, and soon experienced very different terrain — looking like an enormous quilt. We made two refueling stops along the way, in Indiana and Iowa. Avgas, by the way, was quite inexpensive here, compared to what we pay at home.

Aerial view of Mount Rushmore from 75Y
Mt. Rushmore from 75Y

That first day, we reached our first destination of Custer, SD … and iconic Mount Rushmore. Custer is a charming historic town. We not only got to see the Mt. Rushmore monument by air, but we also saw it up-close-and-personal.

Self-service refueling at Leadville, CO

From Custer, we flew southwest to the Rocky Mountains. We flew by many ski resorts where we have skied, including Telluride, Breckenridge, Copper, Winter Park, Vail. In the Rockies, we landed at Leadville/Lake County, CO (KLXV) — the highest airport in North America, at 9,934′! We are told that military pilots come to Leadville for high-altitude training. Landing at Leadville was on Bob’s bucket list, and we were excited to arrive there. Because we flew as high as 13,372′, we carried small cans of supplemental oxygen and took regular breaths from them. For the most part — even at altitude — it was a smooth flight with little turbulence. At higher altitudes, many trees have already changed their colors.

Temple Butte and Lake Powell — Page, AZ

Onward! We overflew Bryce, UT and Escalante, AZ, which were both, alas, closed for renovations. Still, the aerial views are amazing. We landed at Page, AZ, a gorgeous area with much natural beauty. In the Page area, we visited the Instagram-ready Horseshoe Bend — just stunning. We walked across Navajo Bridge (built 1929) over the Colorado River and viewed Marble Canyon — this is where the Grand Canyon begins. Departing from Page Airport, we enjoyed spectacular views of Lake Powell and dramatic Temple Butte, just off the runway.

Flying over Grand Canyon – 2 billion years of history

Flying down the Colorado River, following the canyon, was thrilling. We had a wonderful aerial view watching the canyon open up and get more and more dramatic until it finally explodes into the exhilarating Grand Canyon. (Strict flight rules over Grand Canyon, as you can imagine.) Photos cannot do justice to Grand Canyon; at 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep, it is simply more enormous than human eyes can process. Grand Canyon Airport is located very close to the canyon; we did experience some strong gusty crosswinds on landing, but nothing that Pilot Bob and 75Y couldn’t handle! We stayed in the park, at the historic El Tovar Hotel, perched high on the South Rim. A personal triumph for me was hiking the Rim Trail — 8.2 miles at about 7,000′ altitude. Gorgeous, dramatic views at every turn!

Sedona – Broken Arrow

Our final western stop was beautiful Sedona, AZ. Approaching the airport, the scenery is quite dramatic — and the airport is located atop a large mesa! We stayed at Sky Ranch Lodge, located on the mesa and very close to the airport with gorgeous, dramatic views of Sedona and surrounding Red Rocks. We took a fun “Broken Arrow” Pink Jeep tour — named for the movie filmed there — among and atop breathtaking rock formations.

Montezuma Castle

Another highlight of our Sedona stay was visiting Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well. (Neither has anything to do with Montezuma!) Native Sinagua farmers built the 5-level, 20-room “castle” around 1100 and it is in remarkably good condition. The “well” is fed by underground springs and is a lush surprise in the desert, with remnants of more residences here, both at the rim and at lake level.

Meteor Crater – Arizona

Flying homeward, we had a delightful surprise — we saw an enormous circular depression in the midst of the Arizona desert. ForeFlight (aviation navigational aid) identified it as “meteor crater.” A quick look on Wikipedia confirmed it — the “best preserved meteorite crater on Earth,” about 3/4 mile across and 560′ deep. No wonder it’s so easily visible from the air.

Continuing east, we stopped for fuel and a night’s rest in Pocahontas, TX, in the panhandle. The next day, we flew eastward, stopping in northeast Arkansas for refueling, and arrived back at our home airport later that day.

At Horseshoe Bend, AZ

Throughout our trip, we found good pandemic safety practices just about everywhere. Restaurants, hotels, stores, etc. for the most part kept very good protocols and we felt comfortable. The actual flying parts, including refueling, are naturally socially-distanced. And no TSA lines! We felt fortunate to be able to hop into 75Y for a fun adventure and she performed beautifully. All totaled, we landed in 8 states and overflew 17; flew 26.5 hours over 4,520 miles (3,937 nautical miles). We saw some incredibly diverse — and spectacular — terrain, landscapes, and formations. America the Beautiful!

See more 75Y adventures, follow us on Flight Aware and check us out on Instagram: #N8475Y.