“Flight of Contrasts,” Greg’s September Flying Carpet column & photos

“Hopefully we won’t get clobbered by an F16,” said Jean. Our eyes darted anxiously outside the cockpit while traversing western Arizona’s Bagdad 1 Military Operations Area (MOA).

Jean had a business meeting in sunny San Diego, so we’d delightedly packed our swimsuits for this welcome excursion from our chilly mountain town of Flagstaff.

“You’re beneath the military airspace at that altitude,” said the Albuquerque Center controller, but his words were only slightly reassuring. Our chart showed the MOA floor at the higher of 7,000 feet above sea level or 5,000 feet above ground – here over mountainous terrain, who knew whether fighter jockeys could interpret that ragged bottom any better than we could. But to bypass the massive chunk of airspace would require a huge detour.

Soon after emerging, we found ourselves flying the trackless Mojave Desert. As the hours rolled by, Jean and I contemplated the austerity of this route, including 200 miles of barrens with hardly a road, much less any airport in sight. Just two fragments of civilization would break the remote crossing – a checkerboard sliver of green lining the Colorado River, and lonely Interstate 10 between Blythe and Palm Springs, California.

Otherwise, nothing passed our windows but low and leaden mauve-hued mountains drifting in an endless ocean of golden sand. Continue reading my September column, “Flight of Contrasts,” here. (Please allow a moment for the story to load.)

Above: A checkerboard sliver of green divides the Mojave Desert along the Colorado River southwest of Parker, Arizona. See more photos here.

©2010 Gregory N. Brown

If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!

3 thoughts on ““Flight of Contrasts,” Greg’s September Flying Carpet column & photos

  1. This was a great article! We have been to Mongomery Field in San Diego, however, only by car! We went there to visit John and Martha King and King Schools. It was a great time! One of our sons lives in San Diego, so we get down there now and then, usually flying commercial (ugh). I remember flying over the Salton Sea and was impressed by the blue you described in your article. As I said before, reading your articles gets me right where you are! Great job!

    1. Thank you, Linda! Aren’t the Kings wonderful people? And while there, did you meet King Schools’ president, Dave Jackson? Also a great guy and a good buddy of ours. It’s about time you and Glenn started planning a flight to San Diego in your own airplane. Stop in and see us on your way!

  2. Yes, the Kings are delightful. They were so gracious and welcoming! Wish we could have spent an entire day with them!

    No, we didn’t meet Dave, but I have no doubt he is a good guy!

    A flight to San Diego sounds like fun. We purchased a sectional for that area! Maybe when I retire and have plenty of time. We have driven there by way of Flagstaff when we stopped there to visit the Grand Canyon, which was quite impressive. We wanted to go on one of those flights they have, but the day we were there was extremely windy, so they canceled all flights – wise decision making.

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