Best Of The West!

Where we love to fly

One of the great benefits of general aviation is having easy access to spectacular destinations around the world.

Often, word of mouth is the best way to learn about a great spot, and we've recently launched a new feature on our website that makes travel information more accessible.

Favorite Flying Destinations is an online "show-and-tell" for pilots, where you can share your favorite airport-based restaurant, resort or recreational activity.

Before you launch on your next flying vacation, be sure to browse suggestions that other pilots may have. Check out!

Lone Pine, California
Jim Wynbrandt, Contributing Editor
Airport: Lone Pine Airport (O26)
Activities: Hundreds of Western films were shot in Alabama Hills, hilly ranges with rounded boulders just south of Lone Pine in the desolate Owens Valley. Lone Pine is also the gateway to the Mt. Whitney hiking trail. If your airplane can make it up to 14,000+ feet, then you can take an aerial tour of Sequoia National Park, Mt. Whitney and the Sierra Nevada.
Best Season: Spring, fall
Flying Tips: Be aware of density altitudes. Terrain rises precipitously to the west. Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States, is just a few miles west.
What to Bring: Hiking shoes, sunscreen, hat, water

Sedona, Arizona
Bill Cox, Senior Editor
Airport: Sedona Airport (SEZ)
Activities: Sedona's big attraction is simply the terrain itself. The landscape is straight out of a John Wayne movie, and you can't help but be a little staggered by the beauty of the area's canyons. Red Rock Biplane Tours uses new-generation, open-cockpit Waco YMF-5C biplanes for scenic tours. You'll see the area from the sky in a way you might not from your own plane.

Best Season: Year-round
Flying Tips: Note the density altitude, which can top 9,000 feet in the summer. Standard drill in light winds with no traffic conflicts is to land uphill on 03 and depart downhill on 21. Oh, yes, both thresholds are adjacent to cliffs, so whichever way you land, you're only allowed to undershoot once.
What to Bring: Camera, jacket (in winter)

Big Bear City, California

Marc Lee, Contributing Editor
Airport: Big Bear City Airport (L35)
Activities: In the summer, there's fishing, camping (awesome on the north side of the lake), off-roading and dining. In the winter, the skiing is among the best in Southern California. Also, check out the Moonridge Zoo and the solar observatory tour.
Best Season: Year-round
Flying Tips: Brush up on your mountain flying skills. In the summer, be aware of afternoon thunderstorms, strong winds and density altitude, which can reach up to 11,000 feet. Incoming aircraft must not approach over the dam. Approaches should be at 9,500 feet over the south ridgeline, over tiny Bluff Lake. Outbound aircraft should depart over the lake and toward the dam during normal westerly wind days.
What to Bring: Winter---skis. Summer---fishing and camping gear.

Sunriver, Oregon
Mike McMann, Publisher
Airport: Sunriver Airport (S21)
Activities: Sunriver Resort is one of the best outdoor fly-in destinations in the country. It has its own airport with a fly-in community on one side and resort on the other. The resort offers golf, fishing, canoeing on the Deschutes River and tennis, plus skiing in the winter.
Best Season: Year-round
Flying Tips: Look for Sunriver in central Oregon in the high desert area. It's just south of Bend and Redmond. There are major mountains just to the west.
What to Bring: Golf clubs, outdoor gear

Mojave, California
Pamela Lee, Managing Editor
Airport: Mojave Airport (MHV)
Activities: The home of Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites (SpaceShipOne won the Ansari X Prize after achieving the first privately funded human spaceflight at Mojave) is also home to the "boneyard." The extremely dry weather makes it an ideal resting place for retired airliners; tours can be arranged.
Best Season: All but summer, when temperatures can exceed 120+ degrees.
Flying Tips: Be aware of restricted airspace R-2515 to the east. If it's not active (check with Joshua Approach), head 17 nm southeast for a peek at Edwards AFB's gigantic runways, some carved into dry lakebeds.
What to Bring: Lots of water, comfortable shoes, sunblock, camera

Lake Powell, Arizona & Utah

Jessica Ambats, Editor
Airport: Page Municipal Airport (PGA)
Activities: Jet-skiing (through rock canyons), houseboat cruising, swimming, mountain biking and secluded camping. (Lake Powell has nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline!)
Best Season: Year-round
Flying Tips: Check density altitude during the summer. If you're arriving from the south/southwest, the most scenic route is via the Grand Canyon VFR corridors. Continue northeast over Marble Canyon into Page, Ariz.
What to Bring: Bathing suit, sunscreen, camera

Mammoth Lakes, California
Jeff Schroeder, Advertising Manager
Airport: Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMH)
Activities: In the summer, fishing, hiking, mountain biking and golfing. In the winter, skiing, skiboarding and!skiing!
Best Season: Year-round
Flying Tips: Watch out for strong winds coming over the Sierra Nevada mountain range throughout the Owens Valley. Also, there's no runway snow removal at night.
What to Bring: All of your outdoor sports equipment, but if you forget it (or can't fit it), you can buy or rent anything imaginable there.

Our Favorite European Destination!

Lago di Como, Italy
Jim Lawrence, LSA Editor
Airport: Aero Club Como (water landings only!) and Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
Activities: Get your seaplane rating at Lake Como, Italy's only seaport! Windsurfing, sailing, boating, paragliding, celebrity sighting and shopping.
Best Season: March through October
Flying Tips: Study up on local aviation regulations.
What to Bring: Recreational gear, web-enabled cell phone, guidebooks


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