If you've ever flown around the Southwest U.S., then you know of its immense vastness and beauty. The Canyonlands in Utah take the grandeur to a whole new level. This fall, we joined a group of Katmais (modified Cessna 182s for STOL operations) and Carbon Cubs to explore the area. Using Moab as our base, we visited several backcountry strips, each with its own character and charm.
Caveman Ranch features guestrooms carved into rock formations; Happy Canyon has a historic mining shack containing past relics still intact. At Fry Canyon, a hiking path off the grass strip leads to an awe-inspiring view of ancient cliff dwellings.
The adventure continued for the trio of Carbon Cubs, with a westbound cross-country trip led by Scot Warren, a dealer for CubCrafters. I joined them on the 1,870-mile and two-day journey from Moab to the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nev. Our three-ship flew in loose formation, low over endless salt flats and desert floor. We listened to XM radio, followed railroad tracks, made lazy S-turns with our windows open. It was the kind of pure, fun, "real" flying that you never want to end. Our arrival into the bustle of Reno was bittersweet, eased by the anticipation of the week's excitement ahead.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the air races, where ferocious war-birds zoom past pylons and hardworking crews tweak engines around the clock. After an exciting week, the Unlimited finals came down to a competition between Steve Hinton flying Voodoo and Matt Jackson in Strega, but ultimately, Strega couldn't keep up. This issue has a dramatic "500 mph" photo essay by father-and-son team Moose and Jake Peterson.
Reno race pilots are confined to a tight track around the racecourse. Similarly, aerobatic pilots in competitions or air shows must maneuver within an aerobatic "box." In this month's Let It Roll column, Patty Wagstaff reviews airspace for aerobatic pilots and defines where it's legal to perform aerobatic maneuvers.
It takes skill and practice to stay within the limits of an aerobatic box. When air show pilots describe flying, they often relate that they feel completely connected to their airplane. Pitts expert Budd Davisson takes a look at what makes an aviator, who flies with a precise smoothness, versus a pilot, who moves a machine from Point A to Point B.
Also in this issue, Senior Editor Bill Cox flies the Diamond DA42-VI with East Coast dealer John Armstrong of Dominion Aircraft. Among other improvements, the fourth iteration of Diamond's twin aircraft features a redesign that results in increased performance and a lower empty weight.