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Randy and I got into Gallup around 11pm Thursday night. By the time we got the planes loaded up and ready it was nearing 2am! I felt bad for Randy's mum as we snuck in her house at 2.30am and were out the door at 5am!
We managed to get into the air just as the sun came over the horizon. 15 miles into the trip Randy lost radio contact with me, at least I could barely hear him with the volume up. "Damien, I can't hear you on the radio, your radio must not be working, if you can hear me and want to continue bank left". I banked left right away, I was keen to get up to Monument Valley. A few mintues later Randy was back on the radio, his 9Volt battery in his comtronics box went bad so he hooked up the 12Volt Adapter.
We captured the below images on our way up via Shiprock. I've flown Shiprock a few times now so I was keen to get past it and get Monument Valley in sight.
The first image you can barely see Monument Valley out in the distance. Once we got past shiprock, we turned west. It was strange seeing it out there but then looking at the GPS and still had almost 80 miles to go. Luckily we picked up a 10 mile/hour tail wind. There were a few small tour planes in the air as we made our arrival. We stayed about 2500 feet agl and watched them down below us. It felt really safe as we were all on Frequency 122.9 and in constant communications as we arrived.
I love the photos below. When we first landed the ramp area was pretty much empty. We decided to park in the middle as there was a helicopter on one end, and a small plane on the other. Within a few hours our Trikes were completely surrounded by Tour Planes! One of the reasons I bought a Northwing Trike was the easy to which you could drop the strutted wing down and securely tie it down. I had a plane right in front of me and it blew up some serious dust on me before departing. No problem'o
Randy and I managed to get a photo with John Wayne himself (though we felt like playing extra roles in "A weekend at Bernies"!!).
The first shot below you can see the runway for Monument Valley. The other shots are from the Goose Neck Canyons. They are located about 15 miles north of MV. Very spectacular as you can see. When you first approach, it's hard to tell the magnitude of them, but once you get over the rim it really blows you away. This is my second time flying, so it was great flying with Randy on his maiden voyage.
On our way back to Gallup we flew south to Chinle, Ganado then crossed over the southern tail of the Chakusa mountains to Window Rock then onto Gallup. I was a little uncomfortable heading over ridge into Window Rock as we had to cross over thick high desert forest. Initially we had a few fields that could be mustered as land outs but they soon disappeared. Luckily at least there is a small road that cuts over the ridge. I was up at 9,600 feet msl and it was getting quite cold up there. Randy was slightly below me but happy to get back down. Most of the way back we cruised around 8,500 feet msl as we had a nice 15 - 20 mph tail wind to our advantage.
The first photo is the approach into Window Rock airport.
We were up so high most of the trip back that the air was butter smooth.
But now were were back into the more turbulent air as the ground was heating up.
We decided to land and have a break here.
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