You are hereNovember/December 2015

November/December 2015

As the year winds down, thoughts turn toward fun wintertime adventures and this issue helps with providing a full slate of adventures: from outdoorsy activities in Oklahoma to one of America’s biggest ski areas in the rugged mountains of Montana. Spend your days skiing in New Hampshire’s beautiful White Mountains, and then curl up by a cozy fire in a historic New England hotel. Or head to the Southwest and step into a secret spot so strange it will feel like you just stepped onto Mars.

Bozeman, Montana

If you’re looking to give your skis a little exercise, look no further than Bozeman, Mont., the Old West town also known as “The Adventure Capital of the Northern Rockies.” Hardcore adrenaline junkies make a beeline for Bridger Bowl, with some of the steepest, hairiest terrain you’ll find anywhere. An hour south of Bozeman in the majestic Madison Range, the sprawling Big Sky Resort offers one of America’s largest ski areas. With 49 restaurants, a spa, and housing that runs from hotel rooms to condos to luxurious multi-bedroom log homes, you can spend your entire ski vacation at Big Sky and want for nothing. Bozeman is no slouch either, although its university students, ski bums, and cowboys lend a casual tone. Unlike most ski towns, overpriced hotels and restaurants are the exception here, yet you can still enjoy fine dining. As suggested by Managing Editor Crista Videriksen Worthy, indulge in a tasty bison filet at one of Ted Turner’s restaurants, or take in the après-ski scene accompanied by a cold local microbrew at a popular alehouse. More ski fun can be had at a cross-country ski center next to Bridger Bowl that offers 30 km of trails on private and Forest Service land, with terrain from beginner to expert. On your off days, or if you’re not a skier, you can try ice-climbing or snowshoeing. Indoors, the Museum of the Rockies has one of the world’s leading dinosaur fossil collections. Spend the night in the heart of downtown or find yourself at the end of a country lane, where you can stand outside and listen to the absolute silence of a cold winter’s night in rural Montana. Then wake up to a hearty hot breakfast to fuel your active day. Bozeman’s beauty will entice you to return in summer for more outdoor adventures!

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Pilots familiar with the terrain in the lower Plains states of Kansas and Oklahoma know it’s mostly flat as a pancake. But as you approach south-central Oklahoma, the scene changes dramatically. Mountains, forests, and even waterfalls appear below. As author Patricia Strutz discovered, Ardmore is an oasis of beauty, brimming with recreational opportunities that span year-round. In and around the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, you’ll find numerous places to hike, ride horses, and go fishing and birding. The dog-friendly campground is set among oak and hickory forests, mineral springs, and streams. The nearby Chickasaw Cultural Center is the place to learn about the region’s rich heritage. In addition to water sports, Lake Murray State Park features a nature center and geology museum. Lake Murray offers a lodge, numerous cabins, and an array of well-equipped “floating lodges” to make your stay unique. These are like fancy houseboat-cabins, all on floating docks. For even more luxury, you can stay at a historic hotel. Its opulent décor and comfortable amenities attracted guests from John Wayne to William Howard Taft. Recently renovated to its original elegance by the Chickasaw Nation, the property also includes a full-service spa, casino, specialty shops, and two restaurants. Other dining options include a popular sports bar with the region’s best barbeque, and a colorful cantina right at the airport, which makes it convenient for a pre- or post-flight meal. By the time you head for home, you’ll agree that Ardmore truly is an oasis of beauty in the lower Plains’ sea of grass.

Farmington, New Mexico

Have you ever fantasized about walking on Mars? Read this article and find out about a little-known wilderness area with terrain so unusual, it feels like you’re exploring another planet. Managing Editor Crista Videriksen Worthy reveals one of her all-time favorite hiking and photography spots. Eons ago, it was a swamp. Now, it’s a barren landscape of miniature hoodoos, topped by rocks, all eroded out of clay and limestone. Also nearby is Chaco Culture National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the largest ancient ruins north of Mexico. The mysterious ruins required the herculean efforts of multiple generations to build, and are oriented in special ways along solar and magnetic axes. You can even camp here and enjoy some of North America’s darkest skies. To access all these wonders, you’ll fly into Farmington, a relatively overlooked New Mexican town. But Farmington has its own charms and plenty of things to do. Visit a couple of unique museums on a working ranch, tour more archeological sites on your own or with a guide, play a round of golf on one of America’s top-rated municipal golf courses, or stroll along the Riverwalk, with a lovely park and its own museum. You can find good deals on top-quality authentic Native America art right in town, or drive to Crownpoint for their monthly Navajo Rug Auction, a Southwest tradition for over 50 years, where you can buy a hand-loomed masterpiece directly from the man or woman who wove it. Farmington boasts over 100 restaurants, including a fine bistro owned by one of New Mexico’s best wineries, so you can indulge in a bit of wine tasting and shopping before you dine. There’s also a local brewery with its own taphouse, pizzeria, and restaurant. When it’s time for sleep, you can bed down in a house that’s dug out of the side of a sandstone cliff. This cozy, rock-walled cave is completely furnished, has patios with views of the valley below, and a rock shower and Jacuzzi. Or stay in a private B&B filled with ornate hacienda-style wood furniture, Navajo rugs, pueblo pottery and baskets, and other Southwest touches.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

It’s become an annual pilgrimage for New Englanders to hop into their cars and head for the White Mountains of New Hampshire when the snow flies. Lucky for you, with access to an airplane, you can plan a romantic weekend here even if you come from much farther away. As local author Meghan McCarthy McPhaul explains, you’ll find much to love about winter in the Whites: two excellent ski resorts with terrain for all abilities, beautiful Nordic trails, dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, and a lovely downtown decorated for Christmas. A beautiful estate in nearby Bethlehem is a magnet during the holiday season, not only for its Christmas tree farm, but also for its gift shops that sell handmade wreaths and a myriad of locally-made gifts. There’s a lodging option to suit any visitor to the White Mountains, from quaint B&Bs to grand hotels. Near the airport, two historic hotels have been carefully restored to their original grandeur, remnants of the era near the turn of the 20th century when well-heeled guests arrived by train from the cities. Nowadays, guests can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, a litany of spa treatments, or join in hotel activities like afternoon wine and beer tastings, tours, guided hikes, and evening s’mores roasting by the fire. Beyond the grand hotels’ restaurant options, the best eats are found in nearby Bethlehem, Whitefield, and Littleton. From delectable breakfast nooks to cozy sandwich spots, and unique pizzerias to fine dining paired with excellent wines, you’ll see why the White Mountains are the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate this winter.

Cold Temperature Restricted Airports – Understanding Cold-Induced Altimeter Error

In aviation, it always pays to take the time to understand how things really work. For example, your altimeter doesn’t measure altitude; it measures pressure, correlates that to a height, and displays altitude. On non-ISA-standard days, the Kollsman window on your altimeter allows you to adjust for non-standard pressure. Unfortunately, as Managing Editor Crista Videriksen Worthy explains, most altimeters cannot be adjusted for non-standard temperatures. When it’s extremely cold, the denser air causes your altimeter to indicate an altitude that is higher than your airplane actually is. If you’re flying in the clouds in extremely cold temperatures, particularly at higher, often mountainous, elevations, the altimeter error could put you on a collision course with terrain. And on an instrument approach, the altimeter error could exceed the obstacle clearance provided during some segments of the approach with the same result. There’s a way to counteract this altimeter error, however, by using a simple Table provided in the AIM to calculate the number of feet you need to add to your indicated altitude. As of September 17, 2015, use of this table became mandatory below specified temperatures at 272 FAA-designated “cold-temperature-restricted airports” across the country. We’ll show you where to find the information you need to make sure your ski trip to Bozeman or Mount Washington (both airports are on the new FAA list) goes smoothly.