Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beautiful misery

This weekend we hopped in the Baron and flew to Sedona.  Despite my best intentions, we got a late start on Friday.  I had to finish up some work in the morning, and by the time we got to the airport and were all loaded up it was mid day and the winds were already picking up.  Arizona was calling for scattered thunderstorms,  but no big deal... my plan was to go VFR, fly to Palmdale and hang a big left and then scoot across the Mohave desert straight to KSEZ with an agenda to see and avoid any build ups.  Besides, I have onboard XM for nexrad and onboard radar... what could go wrong?

Problem was, the flight started out with light chop and by the time we passed Bakersfield we were well into the afternoon thermals.  I'm not a big fan of turbulence, but flying alone or with another pilot would have been fine, but with the family in tote it was no fun... no fun at all.  We slogged through another hour and a half of continuous moderate chop and occasional 500-1000 fpm up and down drafts.  There was a scattered to broken layer at 11,000 which went on up to 30,000 in places where the CB and TS were towering so there was no getting on top.  My boys were miserable and accusatory glances and tone of voice from my wife were piercing.  Finally I decided to stop and take a break so we landed at A09 which is a shit hole airport in Bullhead City Nevada, with no toilet and not much else except a narrow strip, and both boys stumbled out of the plane and curled up in the fetal position on the concrete.  Terrible.

But we're only 45 minutes away at this point, and muscle on we must!  We gave the boys some turkey jerky and some coconut water and revived them slightly, hopped back in after finding a bush to pee on and soldiered on... a thousand feet into the climb the bumps hit again and we were getting tossed around on the laborious climb to 7500 ft, dodging the buildups and struggling to keep the nose pointed towards Sedona... when my younger son utters those famous last words... "MY TUMMY HURTS!!"   and then 30 seconds later pops like a water balloon and spews vomit everywhere.  Then my older boy in the back yells "IT SMELLS BAD" followed by my wife saying "Oh my god, oh my god" while my six year old proceeds to projectile vomit and she struggles to catch it... meanwhile we're getting pelted with hail as the nearby TS starts throwing rain and hail our the top and tossing it 30 miles away.  misery!  Worst flight ever...  until the red cliffs of Sedona finally appeared and we all marveled at their beauty... sorry but my poor photography skills don't even come close to doing it justice...

We landed, the boys tumbled out and we proceeded to clean up the barf.  Within 20 minutes, all was forgotten as we absorbed the beauty of the place, and then the TS's closed in and it started raining.  What a beautiful airport, and what a stunning town.  I've been there before but I forgot just how beautiful those red bluffs are and what a cool little town Sedona is. Despite the rough start we met some friends and an amazing weekend.

My wife resolved to return on a commercial flight, but I finally sold her on a zero dark thirty departure. We got as close as we could and ended up getting out wheels up by 7:30, which is pretty darn good for us late night folks... and had a smooth ride as we hauled ass across the desert with the tired pax sleeping soundly....

All in all an awesome weekend, but I'm resigned now to no family flights across the desert unless it's early morning or night, or else I'm in something pressurized and capable of cruising at FL 230.  Hmmm... those TBM's do look nice...

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