Monument Valley, on the northern border of Arizona with southern Utah, is pretty much in the middle of no-where. If you're in a car—regardless of where you start from—it's a long drive to get there. If you're in a plane, however, Monument Valley Airport (UT25) makes a visit to the Navajo Nation Reservation easily accessible. Flying over the vast landscape is an unbelievably spectacular sight of land formations and sandstone buttes, rising as tall as 1,000 feet. On the ground, Goulding's Lodge will pick you up, although it's also within walking distance, and offers rooms with a view, a restaurant, museum, and specialized driving and hiking tours. Just to the west is Lake Powell, a reservoir on the Colorado River with endless winding canyons that are a marvel from the air; beyond is the Grand Canyon, accessible for airborne sightseeing through the VFR corridors. There's even Four Corners, to the east of Monument Valley, if you want the unique experience of flying a steep turn over four states at once. General aviation brings us freedom not just in the air, but by putting ground activities within easy reach, from fly-in restaurants and fly-in resorts, to airplane campgrounds and community airparks. This month, we share some of our favorite destinations, like Monument Valley, that offer pilots the best of both worlds: a remarkable flying experience and dynamic ground activities. What are some of your favorite flying vacations? Let us know at [email protected]
Another great destination, a bit farther away, is Jamaica. We recently joined the TBM Owners and Pilots Association on a weekend getaway to the island nation for scuba diving, sailing and much more. Under the care of Air Journey's concierge services, a convoy of TBM 700s and 850s departed Florida, overflew Cuba and landed at the new Ian Fleming International Airport. Nervous about flying over Cuba? We tell you what you need to know for a Cuban overflight, including how to obtain a permit and the requirements for entering Cuban airspace.
Many TBM owners are pilots who had stepped up from aircraft like the Cirrus SR22 or Piper Meridian, and Socata offers new buyers a complete transition training course when purchasing a new TBM. Part of the program involves time flying with a mentor pilot in the right seat, as well as ground school. In "Living Large," we take a look at aspects of operating turbine aircraft that differ from piston—from engines and systems to endorsements, type ratings, insurance and considerations for flying in the flight levels.
Simulators are often used as training devices when making the turbine transition; they're also great for refreshing primary skills of basic attitude flying, currency requirements and, above all, practicing emergencies. This month, we visited Recurrent Training Center in Savoy, Ill., for a Biennial Flight Review and Instrument Proficiency Check in a Cirrus SR22 sim. The school also has simulators for King Airs, Bonanzas, Cessna 300/400s and more aircraft.
Like many pilots, Plane & Pilot columnist Patty Wagstaff admires and envies the innate flying abilities of birds. Her parrot Buddha has logged hundreds of hours in general aviation aircraft, traveling to and from air shows around the country. Patty discusses tips for traveling with your pet and likens her own style of flying to a parrot: always on a mission. Which bird do you fly like? A hawk that hovers; a raven that wheels and soars?