Hey Friends, check out “Thunderstorm with Rainbow,” my latest “View from the Flying Carpet” Fine Art Metal Print, available in two variations!
I photographed “Thunderstorm with Rainbow,” from the Flying Carpet, en route from Flagstaff, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I’m offering this print in 2 variations: “Wide View” & “Close View.” Can’t decide which to order? Consider “Wide View” for larger print sizes, and “Close View” for smaller sizes.
Like all my Fine Art Metal Prints, “Thunderstorm with Rainbow,” ready-to-hang pricing starts at just $135, with super-affordable shipping throughout the Continental US all the way up to the largest sizes.
Ride along with renowned aviator, writer, and photographer Greg Brown in his light airplane, the Flying Carpet, as he searches behind clouds for the real America, experiencing countless aerial adventures along the way.
Listen to “Realm of the Ancients,” Greg’s Flying Carpet Podcast Flight #14
Archaeology by Flying Carpet: Seeking Kindred Spirits in Navajoland.
Earning your wings is more than piloting an airplane; it’s about where flying can take you!
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Episode #14 Photos
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A former National Flight Instructor of the Year, Greg is author of five books, a former Barnes & Noble Arizona Author of the Month, and recently completed twenty years as aviation adventure columnist for AOPA’s Flight Training magazine. Some reviewers have compared his book, “Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane,” to sixties road-trip classics like “On the Road,” and “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”
“Greg thinks with the mind of a pilot, questions with the curiosity of a philosopher, and sees with the eyes of a poet.” — Rod Machado, aviation author and humorist
“You don’t have to be a pilot, or even a frequent flyer, to soar with Greg Brown in [his] Flying Carpet.” — Nina Bell Allen, former Assistant Managing Editor, Readers Digest
So buckle in and join Greg for the ride!
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Make a one-time donation, or better yet, subscribe your ongoing support. Thank you! Greg
“Oh, and the St. Johns VOR is out of service,” said the flight service briefer before we departed Santa Fe for Scottsdale.
In those pre-GPS days, St. Johns was the only enroute radio navigation aid on Victor-190, the 274nm instrument airway between Albuquerque and Phoenix. No matter, I anticipated good weather throughout the 2½-hour flight.
Launching late afternoon in a rented Cessna 172RG Cutlass, we cruised clear skies southwestward. Entering Arizona, however, I spotted unexpected clouds ahead. It turned out that an unforecast stratus layer had developed almost to Phoenix. Fortunately, visual flight conditions prevailed underneath, the only concerning weather being a line of heavy thunderstorms paralleling our route 30 miles to the north.
Soon we cruised under clouds at 8,500 feet, ogling intense distant lightning off our right wing. I’d anticipated reaching lower country by nightfall, but we’d been slowed by headwinds, and darkness falls early under clouds. I calculated ceilings to be 1,000 feet above the highest ridges ahead. While usually plenty in daytime, that’s risky for night flight over mountains…
“For once,” said Jean, “a routine flight.” We cruised homeward through cool, calm skies thanks to a high overcast filtering New Mexico’s high-desert summertime sun.
Driving from Flagstaff to Alamogordo takes eight hours each way. Going commercially requires two airline legs plus ninety minutes’ drive from El Paso. So general aviation truly offers the fastest way to get there, circumstances permitting, and this weekend was proving to be such an occasion.
But what is a routine flight, anyway? Piloting light airplanes turns out to be more about anomaly than routine. However often we travel a given route, every flight is different. Most aviators learn to appreciate that variety as adventure, but anyone expecting uneventful aerial “auto trips” is doomed to disappointment…
Attending a kid’s 4th birthday party might sound unimportant, but Jean and I felt high emotional stakes in flying to Alamogordo, New Mexico for the occasion.
Our son and daughter-in-law Austin and Desi and their children had recently moved there from overseas. That would make our grandson’s “pirate pool party” our first family celebration together in six years.
Alamogordo is nine hours’ drive from Flagstaff, but less than three hours by Flying Carpet. Perusing the charts, I was pleased to find manageable terrain en route. However, a 140-mile thicket of restricted airspace encompasses nearby White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base, blocking general aviation access from the west. High mountains and additional military airspace also limit access from the east.
That leaves two flying routes from Arizona, neither direct. Shortest is to fly east beyond Socorro to JUPTR intersection, then steer 90 miles south between military airspace and the Sacramento Mountains. The longer alternative is to fly southeast to El Paso over high and remote terrain, then thread an exceedingly narrow 60-mile corridor northward between restricted areas. Both routes are comfortably flyable in good weather, but given such tight quarters each can be blocked over many miles by a single thunderstorm…
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…
“Be prepared to turn around,” I cautioned Jean as we launched under dark clouds. Keeping options open would be key to safely completing this long journey east.
We were bound from Arizona to Illinois for my mother’s 90th birthday and a high school newspaper reunion. Unable to justify flying ourselves 9-10 hours each way for a long weekend, we’d originally planned to go by airline.
But then we learned my mother would be gone over reunion weekend, stretching our stay to a week. That changed everything. By Flying Carpet we could use the free time to visit long-missed friends, relatives, and locations.
Yes, it’s a long flight to Chicago. But from there, many Midwestern destinations are only an hour or two away. Newly excited, we compiled a wish list encompassing three time zones and six destinations in four states. It was an ambitious itinerary, given the vagaries of spring weather.
Indeed, the forecasts were alarming as departure day approached. The Great Plains suffered near-daily tornados, showers were predicted throughout our Midwest stay, and two storm systems threatened Arizona. Rain hammered our roof the night before departure.
We awoke to dark, racing clouds, but for the moment Flagstaff boasted a flyable 1,400-foot ceiling. From nearby Winslow east, Arizona featured fair weather.
Northern New Mexico reported marginal visual flying conditions, with possible mountain obscuration. That might require staying over in Gallup, but we’d cross that bridge when the time came.
For now the objective was to beat the storm out of Flagstaff. Snowflakes pelted our windshield as we drove to the airport…
**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN,“THREE TIME ZONES.”**(Allow a moment for the article to load.)
Top photo: “The clouds break up near Santa Fe, New Mexico.” Lower photo: “Braving a bitter wind at Centerville Municipal Airport, Iowa.” SEE MORE PHOTOS!
*Frameless, reflection-free “museum mount-lustre” prints are bonded to Dibond aluminum-and-polyolefin sheet with museum-back subframe, with a non-glare UV-protective film laminate over the print surface. (See example.) Greg’s favorite!