Any excuse to fly.
Don and I went flying today. Don had left his jacket at the Payson Airport (PAN) restaurant. I had just gotten a pair of Bose A20 headsets I wanted to try. Seemed to make sense to fly up to Payson, retrieve Don’s jacket, and give the headsets a try.
We left Deer Valley Airport (DVT) at about 10:30 AM. As usual, I had a GoPro hooked up on the helicopter’s nose, recording 720p video. The photos throughout this blog post are frames from the resulting 2 hours of video. I figure I’ll let the photos and captions tell the story.
My usual view of DVT as I depart to the north. Helicopters are instructed to cross the runway midfield at 500 feet AGL. Planes take off and land beneath us; the traffic pattern is above us. (You can see a complete departure on video here.)
Don was told that this little ranch once belonged to Johnny Carson. Who knows? All I know is that it’s in dire need of a new roof right now.
Although nearly impossible to spot in this photo, this ridge was completely covered with the ruins of an ancient indian pueblo. I can think of nearly a dozen such sites — all inaccessible by road or trail — in Arizona.
On first reviewing the video, I thought this was the Verde River Valley. It’s not. The Verde River is over the next mountain range. Whatever.
We joined the Verde River just north of Horseshoe Lake, which is pretty much empty right now.
The river twists and turns through a canyon that’s wide in some places and narrow in others.
Sometimes I follow the river quite closely.
It’s great to fly with another pilot who doesn’t freak out when you bank a little sharply. What do you think? Not quite 45°, huh?
The trees along the river — and in any narrow canyon where cottonwoods can grow — are all beginning to change color.
Who says Arizona doesn’t have seasons?
At the Confluence of the East Verde River, we turned right and followed that toward Payson. The wind kicked up here and we got bounced around a little, but nothing bad enough to spoil the flight.
Eventually, we arrived at Payson Airport. I crossed the runway midfield low-level and set down on the ramp.
At the airport, Don and I went into the restaurant and had a late breakfast. There were boxing up pies for sale — tomorrow is Thanksgiving after all — and I bought two of them. Don and I dug into one right at the restaurant, since Mike doesn’t like strawberry rhubarb and Don and I both do.
We took off along the taxiway (sort of) and headed south along the main road toward Roosevelt Lake.
Along the way, we passed over the town of Rye, shown here in its entirety from about 500 feet up.
We hooked up with Tonto Creek and followed it down along a canyon neither of us knew existed. There’s nothing I like better than discovering new places when I’m out flying. This might have been the first time I’d flown between Payson and Phoenix.
Eventually, we reached the north end of Roosevelt Lake on the Salt River. The water level was down, but not nearly as much as Horseshoe Lake.
The lake is created by a dam on the Salt River. There’s a really nice looking bridge near it. I had to get kind of close to get this shot. Funny how the water looks green from certain angles.
We rounded the bend at the dam and headed down the Salt River Canyon toward Phoenix.
Next up was Apache Lake, shown here near the motel/marina complex, which is quite a way down the Apache Trail’s unpaved road. As we neared the canyons on the downstream side of the lake, the wind started bouncing us around pretty good.
This dam creates Apache Lake. Two items of interest here: the helipad on the lake side of the dam itself — really! — and the network of wires running down the canyon. I would not like to land at that helipad. (Well, actually, I would, but that’s because I’m curious to see if I could do it gracefully.)
Canyon Lake is one of my favorites. A bit more accessible by car than Apache, the lake winds through canyons after this point. Next year, when I bring my little boat back from Washington State, I’ll take it out on this lake for a weekend with my camping gear. Lots of places to camp along the lake.
We flew past the big “S” of Saguaro Lake from the uptake side. Saguaro is the most accessible of the Salt River Lakes so it’s usually the busiest on weekends. We flew over on a Wednesday, so it was pretty quiet.
After flying along the Salt River for a while and seeing a handful of wild horses standing in shallow water there (sorry, no good photos), we headed west, over Fountain Hills.
Then we crossed over the southmost end of the McDowell Mountains and descending into the Scottsdale area. We headed toward Scottsdale Airport (SDL) and crossed over the top at 500 feet AGL, right behind a Cessna doing touch and goes. Then I adjusted course to Deer Valley Airport.
I landed at Deer Valley from the west, as I usually do, making a sharp right turn over Deer Valley Road. The red circle in this photo is my landing zone at Atlantic Aviation there. It’s a tricky LZ, mostly because it’s such a tight confined space and there’s a few light poles to avoid on the way in.
Don left while I took my time getting my things together. It had been a nice day out.
Any excuse to fly works for me.