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!