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Day Two

Scottsdale, Arizona to El Paso, Texas

We wake up to a beautiful morning on day 2. The air is clean and fresh and visibility seems to be forever. We have breakfast at the hotel, and drive back over to Signature Aviation. In a few minutes we have Mikey preflighted, fueled, and loaded. Here is a picture from the ramp looking south, just before we take off:

A few minutes south of Scottsdale, we pass Picacho Peak:

At 10:00 am we land at Avra Valley airport for fuel. On our whole trip, these were the only people who asked whether we wanted the windows cleaned. Really nice!

We asked the people in the office at Avra Valley about the Davis Monthan AFB aircraft bone yard. They said to ask Tuscon Approach for permission to overfly it. We did, and they let us talk to Davis Monthan Tower, and we got clearance to cruise over the facility...

If you are interested, I have more pictures of the facility.

By now, the wind has been picking up. Flying through the Dragoon Mountains, we started getting some minor turbulence, but the groundspeed was getting quite high. We started passing cars on the highway ;-)

These are the Dragoon Mountains..

We went past this huge duststorm just before Cochise:

We were flying at about 7,000 MSL at this point. At the time, we estimated that the dust probably went up to 10,000 feet. We landed at Cochise at 11:30 for fuel, and were in the air again by 12:00. I didn't take any pictures because the wind was getting so bad I just wanted to get back into the air.

We landed at Demmings at 1:24 and got fuel, and had lunch downtown.

We took quite a while having lunch - we probably didn't get back into the air until 3:00pm. Now the wind was getting really bad. Dust was everywhere. As we started up the helicopter, I happened to look out my side just as a tumbleweed came right at the helicopter. I thought it was going to hit the tailrotor, but fortunately it missed by a few feet. It probably would have wrecked the tailrotor. The rest of the leg to West Texas Airport in El Paso, Texas was uneventful, but fairly stressful because of the wind. Most of the time the wind was right on our tail, so it really helped our groundspeed, but the turbulence was bad, so it made flying the helicopter work rather than fun. We passed within about a mile of the Mexican border as we came into El Paso, and El Paso approach gave us vectors to the airport. We jumped out, arranged for a hanger for the night, and pushed Mikey into the hangar, out of the blowing sand/dust.

We borrowed this car to get to our hotel. It was a couple miles over this dirt road to get to the highway. As we drove to our hotel, we could look across the border to Mexico. Later, on our way to dinner, it was dark and you could see thousands of twinkling lights in Mexico - the dust was still blowing, and it was making lights only a few miles away twinkle. I have to admit, I didn't like the dust and wind in El Paso. The dust/sand was in everything. You ate it, breathed it, and wore it. Yuck. The only thing I liked in El Paso were the people. They were extremely friendly. I think they must be that way to make up for the environment. It would be tough to take the dust and nasty people at the same time...

Paul Cantrell paul at copters.com (replace " at " with "@" to email me - this avoids SPAMMERS I hope)

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