“Grand Canyon New Year,” Greg’s January, 2011, Flying Carpet column & photos

“Greg, do you and Jean have New Years plans? I’m thinking of bringing my girlfriend to Arizona for a few days.” It was my brother calling from Chicago.

“We’ll be here, Alan, and we’d love to see you. In fact we’ve got a party in the works. Come on out!”

“Great, I’ll make reservations! Oh, and I’m hoping to take Sue for her first visit to the Grand Canyon. How long a drive is that? We also want to lounge at the pool, so that leaves only a day.” I explained that the road trip from Phoenix, where we then lived, required 4-5 hours each way.

“Driving that in one day wouldn’t be much fun, Alan. Would Sue consider flying?” I knew my brother would, because he’s a pilot himself.

“Sure, she’d love that. But could we see much if we flew there? You can’t overfly the Canyon anymore, can you? And how would we get to the Rim?”

“Leave that to me,” I said. “Just get yourselves here, and weather permitting, I promise a day at the Canyon that Sue will never forget.”

Continue reading Greg’s January, 2011 Flying Carpet column, “Grand Canyon New Year,” here. (Please allow a moment for the column to load.)

Photo: The Colorado River meanders beneath us through the mile-deep Grand Canyon. 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!

12 thoughts on ““Grand Canyon New Year,” Greg’s January, 2011, Flying Carpet column & photos

    1. You won’t regret it, Dan! Just be sure to program those Grand Canyon flight corridor coordinates into your GPS ahead of time. (Or at least be prepared to…) And post some of your terrific photos afterwards!

  1. Great travelogue, as usual, Greg!

    As I cram for the Knowledge Test this week-end, reading of your air adventure over the Canyon reminds me of just why I’m doing this. I can hardly wait to take family and friends on our own air adventures.

    BTW, what GPS unit are you using and liking these days? I plan to reward myself with a portable unit upon getting my PPL ticket.

    Blue Skies!

  2. Wonderful photos. That place really intrigues me. We visited there about 5 years ago and the day we’d planned to hire a flight over the Canyon, they cancelled all flights because of the high winds. But it was awesome nonetheless. Sounds like you all had a great time! Thanks for sharing the experience with all of us!

  3. Hi Greg,
    Your articles are always inspirational. My wife is not an enthusiastic flyer (especially in IMC) and I was wondering if you could have your wife write (or you could ghost write) about a flight from her perspective. I am especially interested in her involvement in preflight preparation and in-flight support. I would like my wife to gain a perspective from your co-pilot wife’s point of view.
    I have sent Tammy through a ‘pitch-hitter’ course and was curious if your wife had taken this type of training. If she has, do you have difficulty getting her to practice when you fly? I cannot get my wife to practice and I suspect it was her instructor’s assessment that she was a natural. I am not so sure because sitting in a full motion simulator is not the same thing as being on your own at 10,000 in solid IMC.

    1. Dear Doug, Please forgive me for not responding sooner! I got in my mind that your message came by email, and of course couldn’t find it there when I went back to answer. The idea of having Jean or another flying-companion spouse write such a story is a cool one – I need to discuss the idea with my editor!

      Jean never took a pinch-hitter course per se; however I did train her through solo as my first flight student when I qualified as a flight instructor. Yes, she gained some confidence and knows she can land the plane. The biggest lesson, however, was mine, about how spouses should never try to teach one another to fly, drive, etc. She’s the only student who ever told me “No!” when I asked that she pull back the yoke to enter a stall! She subsequently went on to earn her Private in gliders under the tutelage of other, non-spousal CFIs.

      I do think pinch-hitter courses can be extremely valuable, though they vary a great deal in character and quality so your wife may need to try several before getting comfortable. I have been particularly impressed with some taught by the 99s women pilots association. In any case, I think having your spouse do the pinch hitter with someone of the same gender would be beneficial. I also feel that those programs well-taught in simulators may actually be more effective than those in an airplane, because fear and stress cease to be factors in transfer of learning.

      Finally, I have learned over time that many people who become comfortable enough as passengers never experience the urge to fly themselves. That may be the case with your wife, for the time being anyway.

      The most critical factors in building her confidence as an IFR passenger are 1) to act confident yourself, 2) don’t tell “war stories!” and 3) know that each time you make a no-go or precautionary piloting decision, she will become more comfortable with those trips you do complete.

      I always try to consider and treat my airplane passengers in the context of motorcycles. Ever ride ’em? A blast when you’re driving, but hair-raising when you’re a victim riding on the back.

      All this being said, you and I are mighty fortunate to have spouses willing to share our flying passion with us, aren’t we? What do you fly, Doug? And what sorts of missions?

  4. Hey Greg!
    I did a similar flight with Fred mid-January (flew right seat). We flew a family in their C-206 from KFLG via Dragon Corridor to Kanab, Utah (KKNB) and back. Wow! I got some great pics, too. I think that flight has to go into my “impress the visitors”, as well as the “$100 Hamburger”, files.

    Question: Is it true that the corridor routes are only flyable via GPS? Another compelling reason to buy one for flying in N. AZ, if true.

    Blue Ones!

    1. Yes Bruce, you really need GPS for any kind of meaningful guidance through the corridors. It’s just too hard to navigate them using landmarks, and they are not aligned to ground nav-aids. (See column.) What’s more, you must manually enter the corridor waypoints into your GPS. Most of us don’t know how to do that off-the-cuff anymore, so I recommend entering the coordinates ahead of time if using a portable GPS, or studying how to do so before takeoff if using a panel-mount model.

      1. Greg,
        On our flight Fred had preprogrammed the corridor coordinates into the panel-mounted Garmin 696 (the one I’ve been jonesing for) prior to the flight so we had a nice moving map during the flight.

        So, I’ll consider the GPS a must have for any future flying post-PPL achievement. Thanks for the input.

        1. GPS really becomes critical when flying around special-use airspace in areas with which you’re not very familiar. Dodging Class B Airspace in the LA area, for example, is extremely difficult without one. GPSs also cut flight planning time to virtually zero, because you can just dial in the destination, arm yourself instantly with course, distance, and flight time, and preview your route on-screen. BTW, I think the associated data-link weather available on many GPS units is by far the biggest GA safety advance in all my years of flying.

  5. I fly several different aircraft, through our local flying club. This allows me to keep my instrument/commercial skills sharp though diversity. With a mixture of low wing or high, steam or glass, turbo or normally aspirated, yoke or stick, I never grow complacent or so comfortable that I cannot see most problems heading my way. My wife and I are very involved in Pilots-N-Paws, not just for personal satisfaction, but to demonstrate the value GA delivers to the public. As much as she dislikes flying inside a (IMC) light bulb, her attention is so focused with crew duties associated with the dog(s) she is not aware of the loss of outside reference. For those legs without furry passengers, she has learned to locate airport information in Flight Guide, pull approach plates and monitor my altitude/MDA. While she definitely helps take some of the load off single pilot IFR, I have stealthily trained her in some of the basics of flight which could come in handy. I am really hoping Jean gives us her perspective, so I can share it with my wife.

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