Re: Field of Dreams Reunion 2020!

Bruce Crain

So glad you made a memory Alan!  As my old hanger mate Charlie used to say “when we finally have to go to the nursing home everyone else will be talking about their last “card hand” and we will be talking about the wonderful trips we made in our experimental aircraft”!
Tripin’ the light fantastic!!

On Aug 31, 2020, at 1:39 AM, millenniumflier via <millenniumflier@...> wrote:

Hi Everybody,

I’ve been following Jon’s thoughts on mountain flying very closely, and yes, Jon was one of the people I had listened to very carefully, especially in preparation for my first flight to Enid from Livermore, California in 2018. And not only Jon, but my flight instructor, and many others here at Livermore and from our Q group. I had spent just about a year in preparing for my first trip out, looking at routes, I had three actually all mapped out, taking into account actual FAA reports of wind, DA, weather conditions, you name it, from the time of year that we typically do the FOD to have a realistic characterization of what to expect.  And being that this was my first long cross-country, I listened well. The Bible teaches that in the abundance of counselors, there is wisdom. Wisdom also lies in not only listening, but also doing what is hopefully going in to the old noggin …. Consequently, I learned a ton of stuff about mountain flying that has served me well in these years since. This stuff is serious, wind can be as unforgiving as gravity, and I learned a long time ago from Marc Zeitlin, “I’d rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, than being in the air wishing I was on the ground...” I never forgot that.

All that said, my first trip to Enid from Livermore in 2018, though planned to the smallest detail and as prepared as I felt I could be, turned out much differently than I had expected. Out of three possible routes to follow, and multiple looks at the weather daily, weeks before the event, I chose to basically follow I-40, as it offered the least problematic route, the most appealing in real airports to put the plane down in the event of a forced landing, and the least challenging in wind, terrain, and restricted areas. PLUS, it had the advantage of offering a nice, VERY long and wide runway for the entire route, and paved… namely, I-40. The first leg of my trip was great, Livermore to Bullhead City, KIFP, where I over-nighted. However the following day proved to be unexpectedly challenging. The remnants of Tropical Depression 19 were hovering heavily in the air just before Albuquerque that Wednesday, and despite a very early AM departure, there it was, right smack dab before Albuquerque, over two hours out of KIFP, with no clearing as far as the eye could see, north, or south. One humongously long, black front. The only thing I could do was to pull a 180 and return to Bullhead City, where I knew I had a hotel, and services and then formulate a Plan B. I called Bruce, who suggested that Matthew Curcio in Tehachapi was planning on attending, and was leaving the following day, and maybe I could follow him out. Turned out to be a great plan, and though un-planned to make that flight all in one day, and not following I-40, but staying well south of the Rockies nevertheless, that’s what happened: Tehachapi to Moore County, where we re-fueled, and pulled in to Enid that afternoon. Thanks again, Matthew!  I would never have flown that leg by myself.  My return to Livermore was much more conventional, allowing me to use my plan and it was a textbook flight, departing on each of my 3 legs EARLY AM and pulling in to my next destination well before the winds had a chance of picking up.  

Last year, 2019, no rain at all enroute, and being similarly prepared, I once again chose to follow I-40, and again, it was textbook. Livermore to Bullhead City, then Kingman, Williams Clark, Winslow, (REALLY cool to see the Meteor Crater!), P14, Grants, Albuquerque, Santa Rosa, Tucumcari (GREAT dinosaur museum!), Amarillo, Woodward, Enid. Jon Finley had flown in to Tucumcari very early Thursday AM, and we departed as a flight of 2 to Enid, and arrived well before lunch. No wind to speak of, no getting beat up in the air, no sneaker winds, really good flying weather, and no worries about altitude or restricted areas. My return was equally as enjoyable, though I decided not to overnight again in Tucumcari, due to challenging weather passing through the following day that I wanted to beat, so I went on to Bullhead City after getting fuel, and landed well ahead of the weather, after a really great flight. Winds were mercifully calm but again, we had left Enid early enough to avoid the really bad stuff that usually accumulates in the mid-afternoons.

Anyway, I know this went on longer than I had anticipated, but I wanted to emphasize that for me, as a relatively low-time pilot, with 450 hours, I knew I needed to be prepared, to make a plan and stick with it, and don’t court the unexpected… or turn to the dark side...  again, I don’t want to be in the air, wishing I was on the ground. Rather, I count myself wiser, safer and still alive, being cautious yet smart in doing things right. I say all this, adding that I’m also the original chicken, and for my first long cross-countries, I’m grateful for all who shared with me things that I needed to know and be aware of years ahead. My thanks again to Jon, Bruce, Paul, Terry, Bob Farnam, and countless others who spent time with me on the phone, sharing their experience and wisdom, and making my first long cross-country flight memorable for the right reasons!


P.S. For my trip last year, shameless plug here, check out my video that i posted on YouTube, if you haven't already seen it, a fun encapsulation of our FOD last year.  Google:  2019 Field of Dreams Enid OK

Search Results

From: Jon Finley <jd@...>
Sent: Thu, Aug 27, 2020 5:38 am
Subject: Re: [Q-List] Field of Dreams Reunion 2020!

It appears I got your attention – that’s good, mountain flying is serious – and especially so during the summer. 


Now, to back it down a notch…


The capability of the aircraft is of great importance to this discussion, obviously. Some aircraft have no business in the mountains. In this case (your O-320 powered RV-6), it has good performance/capability (assuming typical RV).


Mountain west flying is much different than non-mountainous areas. In most non-mountainous areas, one can look out the window and make a reasonably good determination about the suitability for VFR flying. Clouds, visibility and wind is pretty obvious. In most cases, all you need is a couple thousand feet to get from A to B.


In the southwest, 365 days a year are flyable VFR (pessimistically, 363 days). The clouds that occur are almost always high, thunderstorms are very obvious (from 50 miles away) and visibility is nearly always 50-100 miles. Depending on your location, the wind may be calm/minimal (especially in the morning). However; the mountains really mess with the APPARENT conditions. You will likely need to climb to 10,000’ to get from point A to B.  Wind at altitude is like a mixing machine and causes all sorts of “movement” close to the surface. It also “directs” the wind so you can get very high canyon wind at point A while point B (a couple miles away) is calm. They (mountains) also cause very uneven heating & thus thermals.  These two things (winds aloft and heating) can make for a VERY rough ride. I know a guy that destroyed a C-210 flying over the mountains on the wrong day. He never touched the ground but landed with an airframe so bent/twisted that it was unrepairable. Morning flying generally avoids the heating/thermal affect. The only thing you can do about winds aloft is watch the forecast ( for the day and time that you will be airborne ( is another excellent tool).  Rarely do significant moisture systems (clouds) move thru at an altitude low enough to be of concern. When they do, they are obvious/visible from a long ways away and easily avoided.


You can certainly fly in the afternoon on a summer day. One can “plan” well in advance but it is impossible to make a decision about that plan more than a couple of days in advance. This is largely due to the winds aloft forecast. I have the advantage of flying a lot and being very familiar with the entire southwest and I don’t plan more than a day or two out.


While I don’t like hearing about unprepared people flying the mountains, I also don’t like to see people unnecessarily avoiding the mountains. IMO, that flying is about as beautiful as it gets and so many folks miss out on it.


If I were flying SAN -> TCS and weather/winds aloft acceptable, I would be airborne at the crack of dawn and fly SAN -> AZ06 -> CGZ (fuel stop) -> TCS. I would divert slightly north of course to view Coolidge Dam (cause it is really cool). Not sure about the -6 but, in the -4, this is possible without a fuel stop if wind is favorable. I like having options so would make the one fuel stop - CGZ appears to have the cheapest fuel in the area. If I got REALLY hungry and not in a hurry; I might stop at P13 (San Carlos Apache – no services), walk across the street to the casinos, and have a big casino breakfast (not sure if they are open in these Covid times). If you like adding ‘places I’ve landed’ to your logbook; Eloy (E60 – where Viking Aircraft once existed with the Dragonfly (though can be a busy place)) and Kearny (E67 – very pretty little spot) are neat options.  This route will take you over the Gila Wilderness area (beautiful) and MeOwn (1NM0) which is one of our backcountry airstrips that I visit often. 


I gave Alan this same speech a couple years ago (more northern route over FLG). It would be interesting to hear his perspective on it now that he has flown it the last couple years.


Will the winds be ok at 6pm? How about noon? Ask me the day before the flight.


Yes, the southern half of the restricted airspace around White Sands requires flying the narrow corridor that is basically highway 54 (to get to ALM).


Yes, I can haul a “reasonably sized” bag or two.


If anyone is tired of this discussion, please speak up and we’ll swap to private messages.




From: <> On Behalf Of Phil Lankford via
Sent: Wednesday, August 26, 2020 7:29 PM
Subject: Re: [Q-List] Field of Dreams Reunion 2020!


Thanks, Bruce and Jon. So, planning to meet up with Jon in TCS and flight of 2 from there. That means I need to be in TCS some time Wednesday. Jon is advising that mornings good, afternoons bad! If I tried to drop into TCS Wednesday pm the temps would still likely be in the 90s but hopefully the winds would calm down toward 6:00 pm maybe?   I might feel alright about that if weather permits. Otherwise I will launch out early Wednesday and get in to TCS around 10:00 am. I’m afraid Jon is going to give me a talking to. 


Another thought to ponder - if I fly out solo I might be able to pick up John Hoxie at ALM. Do folks fly up hwy 54 from ELP to ALM along that corridor between restricted areas?




Join to automatically receive all group messages.