You are hereJanuary/February 2014

January/February 2014

Welcome to the first issue of 2014! This issue has everything you need to start your year in style. Our authors dig deep to reveal hidden treasures in places you thought you knew, from Mobile to Monterey. For those who love to party, Mobile, Ala., is the place to get an early start on Mardi Gras festivities, with parades, jazz, and great cuisine. Monterey, Calif., is close to the world-renowned Pebble Beach golf courses and home to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but there’s so much more to explore in this jewel by the sea. As a special treat for backcountry fliers, this issue features three airstrips you can fly to even in winter when most other mountain airstrips are snowed in. Camp beside the Snake River at the bottom of Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest canyon, or stay in a comfortable lodge beside the canyon’s premiere airstrip and enjoy great food plus all the hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing, or hunting you can dream of. We’ll also take you to a secret slot canyon deep in Utah’s red rock country that few have ever seen. One of our authors hatched a plan to fly to a nearby airstrip and raft the river down to the slot canyon; we’ll show you how you can recreate that adventure!

Monterey, California

Monterey sits at the southern tip of Monterey Bay, which is home to an incredibly diverse array of sea life, from mysterious, luminous, deep-dwelling fish to delicate jellyfish, and great white sharks to impossibly cute sea otters. Anchored by the renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium, the town was originally made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel, Cannery Row. Indeed, sardines were once caught here by the millions, but overfishing caused the canneries to move away years ago. The bay’s waters slowly returned to health after they were made into a preserve. Author Martha Garcia shares that nowadays you can paddle a canoe in a quiet slough and see dozens of sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, and many other sea birds. For the adventurous, scuba diving is another way to commune with local sea life. Cannery Row now caters to visitors with its lovely restaurants and hotels. You can see cars speeding at impossible speeds at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but a rental car lets you enjoy the area at a more relaxed pace. Tour the spectacular 17-mile drive where you’ll pass billionaire-owned estate homes or stop by one of Pebble Beach’s legendary golf courses. Walk among the tidepools and then visit nearby Carmel-by-the-Sea, home to a number of art galleries and studios. The Point Pinos Lighthouse is in a perfect spot to let you watch another sublime sunset before dinner. You’ll want to make Monterey a regular weekend getaway, any time of year.

Dirty Devil Airstrip, Utah

Southeastern Utah provides some of the most fascinating topography to fly over. The entire area, part of what is now called the Colorado Plateau, has been home to a succession of Sahara-like deserts with vast sand dunes that alternated with a series of shallow inland seas for hundreds of millions of years. Thousands of feet of shale, sediment, and sand eventually hardened into rock and then were finally uplifted, to be carved and eroded by water into an endless variety of canyons, buttes, pinnacles, and arches. Utah-based pilot Steve Durtschi has often flown over these formations, but his eye was drawn to a particularly narrow slot canyon called Happy Canyon, off the Dirty Devil River north of Lake Powell. He wanted to visit this slot canyon for years, so he hatched a plan to do so using the Dirty Devil Airstrip. After leaving one airplane in Hanksville and then landing the other at Dirty Devil, Steve and fellow pilot Rob were finally able to embark on their adventure. They used an inflatable kayak to float down the river to the entrance of the slot canyon. After they explored it, they spent a couple more days floating down the river and taking in all its beauty. Finally, they floated down to a pickup point and completed “Steve and Rob’s Excellent Adventure”! Learn how you too can make this trip and visit one of the most beautiful and isolated spots in America.

Mobile, Alabama

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler! That’s the Cajun-French phrase you often hear in Mobile, which means, “Let the good times roll!” As author Patricia Strutz explains, they really know how to throw a party here, especially in the three weeks leading up to Mardi Gras. In fact, Mobile is home to the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the U.S. (the first festival was in 1703, 15 years before it started in New Orleans). Parade season, as it’s called, brings nearly 40 parades, with marching bands, elaborate floats, and revelers throwing colorful beads, doubloon coins, and tasty Moon Pies into the crowd. The nearby Carnival Museum explains all the traditions, while the History Museum of Mobile brings the past to life. Aviation enthusiasts won’t want to miss Battleship Memorial Park, where the USS Alabama watches over the bay. Twelve decks are open for viewing; a submarine and dozens of aircraft are also in the park, including a B-52 Stratofortress, A-12 Blackbird, and P-51D Mustang. Take a self-guided walking tour through pre-Civil War architecture, or really get into the spirit at the Oakleigh Historical Complex, where docents in period garb lead you through 19-century life. For a change of scenery, head to the delta and paddle through cypress-crowned sloughs and bayous. Fishermen will find striped bass, catfish, crappies, redfish, speckled trout, and flounder in various locations throughout the delta. Hotels are scattered around the city; choose a 19-century Queen Anne B&B surrounded by 100-year-old magnolias, or stay in Andrew Jackson’s former military headquarters, now home to a historic hotel with massive Beaux Art archways and paintings. In the evening, dine on the delta’s waterfront in one of Elvis’ favorite hangouts. This is the place for live music, from blues to big band to neo-rockabilly. If you’re craving oysters, a Dauphin Street landmark serves the best. You’ll see why Mobile is a great place to chase away the late-winter blues.

Hells Canyon Airstrips: Dug Bar & Temperance Creek, Oregon

Northwest backcountry pilots have it good in summer. Montana, Oregon, and especially Idaho provide hundreds of delightful airstrips in spectacular settings for those with the skills and equipment to safely fly in to them. In winter, however, most of the high-elevation airstrips are snowed in, so only pilots who have exchanged their tires for skis can enjoy them. When temperatures plunge, managing editor Crista V. Worthy and her pilot friends go to Hells Canyon. It’s the giant crack in the earth that delineates the border between Oregon and Idaho. It’s also North America’s deepest canyon, so it offers views of steep rock walls towering thousands of feet above and thundering waterfalls cascading down every crevice in early spring. A number of airstrips that lie on the banks of the Snake River at the bottom of the canyon remain generally snow-free all winter because of their low elevation. (In summer, Hells Canyon lives up to its name with soaring temperatures that can make the canyon feel like a furnace.) Some of Hells Canyon’s airstrips are very short, but two of them, Temperance Creek and Dug Bar, have longer, wider runways that are well-maintained. Takeoffs and landings can be made from either direction, wind permitting. The runway at Dug Bar was recently renovated and re-oriented by volunteers from the Idaho Aviation Association, assisted by the Idaho Division of Aeronautics and with the cooperation of officers of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Dug Bar rewards you with quiet camping, hiking, and excellent steelhead fishing in the Snake River. Temperance Creek offers all of the above, but is also a first-class wilderness lodge with private cabins, showers, and excellent home cooking. Spend your days here relaxing, or take a private guided fishing or hunting trip. The area is home to hundreds of elk as well as bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

The Right Instructor for You – Getting the Most out of Training

Got the instructor blues? You’re not alone. Many student pilots who drop out of their initial training do so because of problems with their instructor. Some pilots who struggle through their initial training end up dreading their biennial flight reviews, specifically because they are presided over by the same instructor. If you’re not happy with your CFI, or just feel you should be getting more out of your training, managing editor Crista V. Worthy illustrates typical CFI/pilot pitfalls and what you can do to avoid them using her own initial training as well as the experiences of several other pilots. After all, it’s your money and your safety, so you deserve the right instructor for your particular needs—maybe even more than one!

Read the entire article here.