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Another interesting day on the road to the 40 hours I need. I started out today, as planned, with no plan. Having a think about it last night, I didn’t want to travel too far, but I wanted to keep the hours ticking over. One of the things I wanted to see before coming out here was the meteor crater between Winslow and Flagstaff. I had a look at the weather and it was pretty much the same scene presenting itself as had done yesterday, but I was a bit more comfortable that I knew what I was dealing with.

I realised that there was going to be some stuff enroute, but Flagstaff was clear. The cloud was all well above any mountain tops I would be passing and the showers were sparse enough that I could easily navigate around them. So, I planned for a Flagstaff and a routing back via the crater.

I decided since Phoenix Airport was directly on my route, that I’d try another Class B(bravo) transition. I got a great view of the city this time. When I flew it with Jason, I was a little less orientated to the area and was concentrating more on flying and navigating than taking in the view. This time however, I had the aircraft nicely stabilized, I knew exactly where I was and where the controller wanted me to go. So I was able to sneak a couple of photos of the great view of Phoenix that I was experiencing.

Phoenix Airport - There's two routes to transit the airport this one is taking from the West route.

Phoenix Airport – There’s two routes to transit the airport this photo is taking from the West route.

Just to the West of the airport is the Phoenix downtown, the Stadium is Chase Field, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball team.

Phoenix downtown, with Chase Field in the near corner.

Phoenix downtown, with Chase Field in the near corner.

Once clear of the Class B airspace, the approach controller cleared me to climb and “continue own navigation.” The flight to Flagstaff is pretty much the flight to Sedona again, but with an extra leg. A couple of miles to North of Flagstaff is a 12,600ft mountain peak. This offers a perfect navigation aid, since once again, you can see it from about 100 miles away.

I couldn’t help but take another few snaps of Sedona as I flew by, this time at 9,500ft. It’s a really stunning place.

Sedona - The airport from  the mountain check out is in the middle of the frame up on the plateau.

Sedona – The airport from my mountain check out is in the middle of the frame on top of the plateau. You can also notice some of the showers in the background that I was encountering enroute.

When past Sedona it’s pretty much a straight run into Flagstaff. Just a matter of keeping the nose on the mountain in front and of course remembering rule number one of mountain flying, don’t fly into it!

You wouldn't think it, but this photo is actually taking at about 10,000ft. You can see Humphreys Peak to the front and just about the airport in the mid ground.

You wouldn’t think it, but this photo is actually taking at about 10,000ft. You can see Humphreys Peak to the front and just about the airport in the mid ground.

I eventually landed and straight away a guy came out to marshal me to a parking spot, once parked he gave me a spin over to the terminal where I was able to grab a bit of lunch, fall in love with the waitress and plan my next move. No photos of the waitress I’m afraid, but she was cute as hell and had tonnes of that southern charm that’d trip up any man.

After regaining some composure, I realised the mission and headed back towards the briefing room to plan the leg home. The weather was getting a lot worse and I realised I had to get going, so I filed the flight plan and formulated the plan, I picked up all my bits(or at least I thought I did) and headed out to the aircraft done the pre-flight and got going. Flagstaff is another high altitude airport at 7,014ft and the DA was 9,500ft so I took the usual precautions required and got airborne. Straight away I could see what I was going to have to dodge on my route home. Plenty of large showers containing pretty light shows. Plenty of lightning forks striking the ground, not a place you want to bring your jet airliner not to mention a small two seater.

One of the many showers met enroute.

One of the many showers met enroute.

Thankfully there was no weather around the meteor crater so I was able to get a good look. It’s a really impressive site, not only does the inner walls look steep, but the outer mounds created by the impact look to be a tough hike.

This thing is huge!! The buildings on the left of the picture give you an idea of scale.

This thing is huge!! The buildings on the left of the picture give you an idea of scale.

Once passed the crater I decided it was time to make my way back to Chandler. The picture of the shower I showed you was directly over head my planned route home, so it took a few route changes and diversions from my original planned course to avoid the showers and thunderstorms. I eventually came back in via Payson having planned a more easterly route, similarly to yesterday though, this was actually a more direct flight. You’re probably asking, if this was a more direct flight why not plan for it in the first place. Well, when planning, the radar showed the weather sitting over Payson, as well, the other route offered better waypoints for navigation.

In the end it worked out fine, but things got progressively more turbulent as I approached Phoenix. It was definitely a fight to maintain a steady altitude and the novelty was wearing off fast. I was expecting a smoother ride, once clear of the mountainous terrain. But, this wasn’t to materialise and it turned out to be a fight the whole way in.

It was quicker this time to transit a smaller airport called Falcon, than transit over the main Phoenix International Airport since I was now coming in form the North East, so I did just that. Falcon is only Class D, so it’s just a matter of having two way radio with their tower and maintaining the altitude limits they assign you. Not so easy with choppy ride though. So, a lot of radio work combined with navigating close to class B airspace(that you don’t want to bust) while fighting an aircraft that doesn’t want to fly straight and level. In the end, it was one of those flights where I was glad to get back on the ground.

Once on the ground, I very quickly realised something was a miss. While preparing my flight I inevitably decided that my flight bag would enjoy an overnight stay in Flagstaff. I merely picked up all my gear that I would use for the flight and walked out the door in a haste to get airborne, leaving the flight bag on the floor beside me. As soon as I went into the flight school I was met by a smiling dispatcher who’d received a call from the helpful staff in Flagstaff to let me know they were keeping it safe.

So, it looks like my flight for tomorrow is pre-decided. But, it might not be such a bad thing. I might even plan for Moab and the Archers National park for another overnighter. Flagstaff isn’t much of a deviation from the route to Moab.

So, another day down. Up to about 16/17 hours now. I’d tell you exactly how many, but unfortunately my log book is living it up in Flagstaff at the moment.

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