Bittersweet aerial journey
Sunrise cracks the horizon as Jean and I rotate skyward. Any direction we steer—north to the Grand Canyon, south over Sedona, west toward Las Vegas–will reward us with spectacular sights. But we’re reminded this sparkling morning that perhaps our favorite route is east to Santa Fe.
From Flagstaff’s mountain pines, we soar above volcanic cinder cones, crazy-jagged Canyon Diablo, within sight of Meteor Crater, over the Painted Desert, and then the buttes, hoodoos, and hogans of the Navajo Nation. Beyond there, crimson cliffs frame Gallup, New Mexico, and jet-black ancient lava flows stream eternally from 11,306-foot Mt. Taylor.
We’re not the first pilots to appreciate these views. Back in 1929, Charles and Ann Morrow Lindbergh photographed area scenic and cultural sites from their custom Curtiss Falcon biplane, and hence today’s mission.
Our friend, National Geographic and Arizona Highways aerial photographer Adriel Heisey, was commissioned 10 years ago by Archaeology Southwest to reenvision the Lindbergh photographs for a comparative “then and now” exhibition, called Oblique Views. We’re bound today for the opening at Santa Fe’s Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.
Joining us in Santa Fe for the event will be another longtime friend, Bruce Papier.
In a past life we shared many adventures, including piloting a Cessna 210 from Indiana to Arizona…
**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, “OBLIQUE VIEWS.”**
Top Photo: Adriel Heisey photographs downtown Santa Fe for the Oblique Views exhibit, from his Flight Design CTsw Light Sport Aircraft.
Lower Photo: Bruce Papier and Uli Niemeyer greet us at Santa Fe Airport, New Mexico.
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2015 Gregory N.Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!