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Fly High and Fast – Vol. II Chapter 6: Flying Arizona

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JJ Meehan
The Meehan Family

Grumman Tiger is one of the fast single engine fix gear aircraft that has seats for four.  It has a 180 HP engine.  Cruise speed was 110 KTS.  As a Certified Flight Instructor, I was instructing in the Grumman Tiger, Cheetah, and TR-2 aircraft for the Rockwell Flying Club.  One summer the family decided to head to Arizona for two weeks doing the winter 1977.

It was a very cold winter and the chance to spend 2 weeks in Arizona was an excellent idea.  I told the family that I wanted to have some time to enjoy flying around Arizona while were there.  It was agreed and I spend one glories day flying over most of Arizona and southern Nevada.

We were staying in Phoenix and the weather was perfect.  I don’t believe it rained the whole time we were there and the temperature was in the high 60’s F (15.5 C ) or low 70’s F (21 C ) the whole time.   I checked around and found a Fix Base Operator (FBO) who rented Grumman aircraft.  I wanted to rent a Tiger since I was instructing in them for the Rockwell Flying Club in Cedar Rapids and had accumulated over 1,000 hours in a Tiger.  The Tiger also has a very good glide ratio if you loose power which is very important in mountainous areas.   The Flight Instructor (CFI) who checked me out in the Tiger had been a Naval Pilot and had just gotten out of the Navy.  The FBO was located on the north side of Phoenix in Deer Valley.    The check-out was very normal.  One thing that the instructor told me that I later told all of my students.  If you loose power at night over mountains glide for the darkest spot.  He all reinforced the fact that if the mountain tops appear to be getting higher not lower you will not make it over the pikes.  He was a very good instructor.

I scheduled the plan for the next day and went back to join the family.  I would later put together my flight plan which would cover all of western Arizona and southern Nevada (Las Vegas).   I figure the flight would take about seven hours with a stop in Las Vegas, NV  USA.  The following is a map of the flight route:

What a beautiful day and trip.  Arizona is home to several US Air Force Bases so I had to make sure I stayed out of all Military Operations Areas (MOA’s).  These are not restricted areas but worrying areas.  This is the area that the US Air Force uses to train their pilots or to give them more training on new aircraft or equipment.  He may also be used for gunnery practice and there is no way in “H” that I will fly though an MOA.  The instructor that checked me out told me something that I tell each of my students; Just think of your initial solo flights in a Cessna 150 or Grumman TR-2 which have a cruise speed of 90 KTS and  then image being behind the controls of a fighter jet which has a cruise speed of 500 KTS.   All students are mentally fighting to keep up with their plane during their initial flights.  I can not image how busy or how far behind the curve a student would be in a jet at 500 KTS.  There is no way I want to be anywhere near them.


The flight was one that you wish you could do over and over again.  I loved the beauty of the Arizona Desert.  When I got to Tucson I went a little out of my way to see Tombstone where the Gunfight at the OK Corral took place, Bisbee, and the Mission of San Xavier from the air.  I’ve included photos that I took on a later trip.  Yuma was and is the ultimate old west town in my memory.  The London Bridge at Lake Havasu, AZ, USA is a unique site from the air.  I allowed enough time in Las Vegas for refueling and a cab ride to the strip for a few games of “21”.   The site that really caught my eye was the red clay at Sedona, AZ.  I arrived just as the sun was setting in the west.  What a beautiful site.  I made what they call a “Touch and Go” at the airport.   A “Touch and Go” consists of a landing and takeoff without stopping.  The Sedona Airport is built up top of a mountain and you have the feeling you are taking off from an Aircraft Carrier.



Tombstone, AZ USA
Tombstone, AZ USA
Bisbee, AZ, USA
The Mission of San Xavier, Tucson, AZ, USA
Yuma, AZ, USA

London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, AZ, USA

Sedona, AZ, USA

Sedona, AZ, USA

The flight logged just about 5.0 hours and I had a chance to see some very beautiful country.  These pictures capture the essences of my love of flying.  It is not just the thrill of being in the air but the ability to cover large distances in a short time and view some remarkable scenery.

Enjoy more flying stories on my WEB Site at “FLY HIGH AND FAST”.


Written by jjmeehan13

January 8, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Flying

4 Responses

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  1. Beautiful photos, JJ – it\’s nice to read your stories.


    January 8, 2010 at 5:14 pm

  2. Sounds like a wonderful outing, with many great memories! Well done! Bill McClung


    January 8, 2010 at 10:34 pm

  3. wow, amazing photos….the above picture blows my mind away


    January 10, 2010 at 10:13 am

  4. I love the pictures and of course the stories of your adventure it feels like we are there with you!


    May 9, 2010 at 7:02 am

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