2004 Sedona, AZ
Prior to the presidential elections in 2004, my pastor and I were discussing some political issues thru e-mails and decided to discuss them in more detail over a meal. I invited him to fly with me for breakfast in Sedona. We set the date for November 4. The day could not have been more beautiful for flying. Clear blue skies with greater than 100mi visibility, temperatures in the low 40's in the valley and little to no wind. We departed Chandler at 7:45am for the 95nm trip.
For those who don't know about Sedona, it is considered to be one of the most scenic areas in the country with beautiful red monument mesas, pine trees and cool elevations. It is also a hangout for many artistic folks - painters, sculptors and such. The area is also considered by New Agers as a Spiritual Vortex - whatever that means.
We stayed below the Phoenix Class B airspace as we crossed the east valley then climbed to 8500 ft for the rest of the journey. The Sedona airport (KSEZ) lies on top of a mesa 500 feet above the surrounding area at approx 4800 ft altitude. We were high enough to cross the landscape, but still low enough to do some sightseeing. As we headed into the mountainous area north of the valley we could make clearly see Canyon Lake, the Mogollon Rim and the Superstition Mountains. We were barely at altitude when we could clearly see the snow capped San Francisco Peaks outside of Flagstaff approximately 100 miles to the north. The photos below show the mountains just north of the valley as we started our climb and Pastor Sproul enjoying the ride.
We settled back cruising at 160kias and covering the ground at over 195kts. Before we knew it we were approaching the airport for a cross field left downwind entry to runway 3. The runway takes up most of the mesa it sits on and it appears like you are landing on an aircraft carrier! The photo below show the red rocks of Sedona in the distance and the snow capped San Francisco Peaks beyond that on the horizon. The second shot is the view from approx 7000 ft as we descended into Sedona. The airport cannot be seen in the photo but is to the left of the picture.
We landed at 8:25am without incident and taxied for a few minutes trying to determine the best spot to park near the restaurant. The airport restaurant sits nearly midfield and has a patio with a view toward the east and the runway. The food was delicious and as we ate we discussed politics, the recent election, raising kids and Christianity. It was past 10:30am when we decided to head back home and we loaded up the plane (slightly heavier now with our bellies full) and taxied out to runway 21. The photo below is the view just off the approach end of runway 21. The edge of the mesa is right there where the small green scrub trees are situated!
We departed at 11am and had an uneventful 40minute trip home. Passing over the valley, Pastor was able to get a couple of photos of his new house under construction as well as our church and the land where we will be building a new church and college in the next couple of years. The landing in Chandler was probably my hardest - it was as if we got sucked into a downdraft at the last moment and I couldn't stop the sink rate. We bounced and settled back down without nicely the second time. The bad landings always come with passengers! Oh well. We survived and that's all that really matters. Total time for the round trip was 1.4 flight hours. Sedona is a great spot to visit if you're ever in the area.