Saturday, May 16, 2020

Day 7


…..a disembodied voice shouted cheerfully over the radio. More on that in a moment!

Another glorious predawn airport wake up in Belen, New Mexico. We are getting great at waking up in the dark, packing up fast, and taking off just as the sun rises to catch the best light. The entire trip has been gorgeous but the flying we encountered today was nothing short of miraculous. En route to Gallup for a fuel stop, I circled overhead one of North America’s oldest continuously occupied communities, Acoma Pueblo, while Filip photographed it against the rising sun. It felt ancient and wild and we were amazed that people were living down there in such an untamed place. We pressed on—the terrain beneath us was eruptive, changing rapidly, and we were both ecstatic by the time we flew over Monument Valley. We threw open the windows for maximum visibility and enjoyment, to shoot the immense formations. It is some of my favorite kind of flying, circling tightly over the Earth, windows open, air screaming, engine pounding, attempting to capture it all.

After Gallup, we headed to a remote strip in Utah called Calblack. I called up on the radio announcing our position, and a voice called back from the ground, “welcome to paradise!” He was not wrong.

The field was quite remote, it stood out in striking black against the yellow scruffy desert ground of Utah. In the distance, Lake Powell and the Colorado River gleamed blue and sparkling in the sun.

We fueled and decided to hang out and relax for a bit, unloaded our camping chairs and had coffee and avocados on the field under the wing. So wonderful, this trip has been filled with moments of extreme flying, planning, and nonstop moving countered with divine moments of peace and deep, humbling appreciation.

We then departed for Pace Arizona, and this is where it gets really fun. To navigate, we decided to follow the Colorado River and Powell Lake, two beautiful churning bodies of water surrounded by some of the most insane landscape I’ve ever seen in my life, let alone from the air. Flying down the canyons following the water was some of the most awe striking and pure fun flying I’ve ever done, and I was actively laughing the entire flight. I felt like we’d flown to a new planet, it was incredible, stimulating, almost incomprehensible, and truly, unbelievably delightful.

At Pace we fueled, and completely thrilled, decided to go up for another hour of shooting in the canyons.

We then returned to plan our next day of early morning flying and sleep, dreams filled with the spectacular wonders we’d witnessed. To the West!