You are hereMarch/April 2008
If your plane has been hibernating for winter, it’s time to dust it off and make big plans. Spring is in full swing, so you can start planning your trips now with some great escapes from tropical islands to forested mountains or desert canyons.
Bahamas Out Islands
Those ads that claimed “It’s better in the Bahamas!” were spot on. With turquoise waters, unspoiled beaches, lovely resorts, and incredibly friendly people, this island paradise really rolls out the welcome mat for private pilots. Editor-in-Chief John T. Kounis shows you how easy it is to fly there, and you can island-hop in your plane as much or as little as you like. Explore secluded coves by kayak, swim with sharks, and snorkel or scuba dive to your heart’s content. Rent a private home, stay in a colorful cottage with the beach just steps away, or go fancy at a luxury resort with golf and gourmet restaurants. Whichever style of vacation you choose, you may never want to leave!
Skywalk at Grand Canyon West, Arizona
When you visit the Hualapai Reservation at Grand Canyon West airport, you’ll get a unique view of the Grand Canyon—straight down between your toes to the canyon floor thousands of feet below! Technical Editor Crista V. Worthy explains how you can fly through one of four special flight corridors over the Grand Canyon. Once you land, you can take the short bus ride to The Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass walkway that extends 65 ft. out over the canyon. Feel the updrafts as you lean over the edge, and look down between your feet to see almost 4,000 ft. of empty space between you and the bottom of the canyon! You can also watch or even join some Native American dancers and explore native dwellings. Enjoy a buffet lunch at Guano Point with a panoramic view of the canyon, go for a hike, or take a four-wheel-drive tour to the rim. You can even board a helicopter to descend to the river where you will take a boat ride upriver and then float down. With a stay in a cabin at Hualapai Ranch, your day is complete.
Franklin, North Carolina
Deep within the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, a cluster of small towns—Franklin, Dillsboro, Sylva, Cashiers, and Highlands—has provided Southern hospitality to tourists for over 125 years. The soft earth in the valleys is littered with sapphires, rubies, and other gems. You can dig in the dirt and maybe find one yourself, or buy from a huge selection in the local stores. Hikers will find hundreds of trails in the hills, and the area offers great fly-fishing as well. The historic Great Smoky Mountains Railroad has a selection of trains from open-air to fine dining cars that present a unique way to enjoy the area. You can stroll picturesque streets and visit galleries, antique shops, and other stores from quirky to up-scale. Relaxing stays in cozy inns and authentic Southern cuisine all ad up to a perfect weekend, Southern-style.
Also known as “Charm City,” Baltimore certainly will charm you with its eclectic mix of shops, fine dining, 18th-century history, and the beautifully revitalized Inner Harbor. There, you’ll find shops and eateries galore, as well as a world-class aquarium. You can board the USS Constellation, the Navy’s last all-sail ship, and visit Fort McHenry, birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner. The internationally renowned Walters Art Museum and Hippodrome Theatre are cultural showpieces. Baseball fans won’t be disappointed during any season; Camden Yards provides game thrills, while the Sports Legends Museum honors not just Babe Ruth, who was born here, but many other sports heroes as well. A plethora of accommodations are offered, including one where costumed “ghosts” roam the halls. And food? So many choices, so little time! Author Heather Sable sorts it all out for you, so every meal is a winner. You won’t want to miss Baltimore!
Silver Lake, Oregon
The Cowboy Dinner Tree restaurant in central Oregon offers a unique dining experience. The restaurant is built on the site of an old cowboy chuck wagon stop, beside the still-standing “Dinner Tree,” hence the name. Even with just two entrées on the menu, cash-only service, and its out-of-the-way location, reservations are a must, because this place is booked sometimes weeks in advance. As author Linda Rowe Fore explains, placing your order when you make your reservation is easy: it’s chicken or beef (with all the trimmings) and when you taste yours, you’ll know why this place is always booked! After beginning with a large crisp salad, savory soup, and freshly baked rolls, a whole chicken, slow-roasted and tender, or a gigantic (26 to 30 oz.), perfectly seasoned sirloin steak literally fills your plate! Wash it down with cowboy coffee or a choice of other beverages, and don’t forget to save room for a delectable dessert. The whole meal is less than $24, and they even have two cabins nearby for you to sleep off that incredible meal.
Cessna Citation Mustang
You might think Cessna’s new Citation Mustang is just a scaled-down version of its big brothers. But this little jet was designed “clean sheet” from the bottom up, and any pilot lucky enough to fly one will find that quality emanates from every inch of this aircraft. Author Dan Gryder explains its innovative design, starting with a one-piece monolithic spar—the heart of this jet—that saves weight and cost. The Mustang’s all-new bonded wing is another innovation, resulting in a lighter wing, so strong and durable that it practically has no life-limit. The aircraft has been safety-tested to the hilt, offering the same safety margins and climb gradient as FAR Part 25 (Transport Category) aircraft, with key airspeeds already programmed into the Garmin 1000 avionics package. The airplane is quiet and comfortable, and its cockpit is designed for single-pilot operations with a digital FADEC to handle engine settings. The jet is so easy to fly that our editor, a single-engine pilot with no jet time, greased his first-ever jet landing!
Flying to The Bahamas Planning Your Flight to the Tropics
Pilots who have not flown abroad may be apprehensive about flying to The Bahamas, especially if they haven’t flown over water before. However, with a little advance planning, most pilots have found the flight goes smoothly and leaves them with lasting memories. Editor in Chief John T. Kounis outlines what you need to know for your trip.