Success in the Desert

I fly at Robson’s for the second year in a row and have a successful day.

Zero-Mike-Lima at Robson'sWhat can I say? I’m awed, flabbergasted, thrilled! I brought Zero-Mike-Lima out to Robson’s Mining World for its Anniversary Celebration. Every year, the folks at Robson’s open the gates for a day of free admission to the property. They invite a number of western art vendors, artists, and entertainers to sell goods and entertain the visitors. They sell hamburgers and hot dogs and other food items. They open all the doors to tours, do gold panning, and on occasion, get the old steam engine running for a glimpse into the 1800s.

I was invited to offer helicopter rides. The plan, like the year before, was to offer 8-10 minute rides that circled the mountains behind Robson’s and came through the valley beside the town. The price: $30 per person. I also had some newly designed “I Got High with Flying M Air” T-Shirts available for sale for $12 each (2 for $20).

The visitors start arriving at 8 AM or earlier — probably just to get a good parking spot along the long dirt road to route 71. When I landed at about 8:25 AM, they were already lined up for rides. It seemed there had been a bit of a misunderstanding — they had read a brochure at Robson’s that led them to believe I could take 9 to 12 passengers at a time. Oops! Still, the first group of eight were perfectly happy to go two or three at a time. So before I shut down for a break at 10 AM, I’d taken 12 people up for rides.

Things got slow for a while. People don’t really think of a ride unless they see the helicopter flying. So when I took another two people up for a ride, the momentum started all over again. I flew nonstop from about 11 AM to about 12:30 PM, when I shut down to add 10 gallons of fuel from a pair of fuel cans we’d brought along. Then I started right back up and flew for another hour and 15 minutes.

By that time, the event was starting to wind down. It was a good thing, because I was getting low on fuel again. To refuel, I’d have to go back to Wickenburg and the round trip would take about 30 minutes. It didn’t seem worth coming back with fewer and fewer visitors around. So we packed up and went back home.

Mike and Lorna at Robson'sI need to thank my ground crew for this event, John, Lorna, and Mike. John and Lorna are winter visitors from Maine who are good friends of ours. They helped out last year at Robson’s and at an outing at Stanton. Lorna usually handles the finances while John and Mike do the passenger briefings and load/unload the passengers. They won’t take money from me for their services — they’re just glad to help out. Lorna likes talking to the people who, this time of year, are from all over the country.

Although we lost count somewhere along the way, we figure we did about 47 rides and sold about a dozen T-shirts. At least half of the people I took up were on their first-ever helicopter ride. I had some kids on board a few times and gave them helicopter toys when they got off. Everyone enjoyed the flight. It was a beautiful, warm, and calm day — what’s not to enjoy?I’m just happy. I need to have about three days like this month to cover all my payments. I look forward to my next outing — with luck, that’ll be next week in Quartzsite.

What do you think?