Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Navion Aircraft and Bryce National Park

We spent the morning hanging out at the airport with friendly Navion owners and beautiful Navion airplanes. This group gathers together from all over the country once a year to enjoy their airplanes and see the sights in a selected city.
Today was the speed contest (the FAA objects strenuously to the term "race", so instead this is called a speed contest) and Case and I choose to hang out with those choreographing the event to see what it was all about. The pilots prepared by unloading their planes of all baggage, carrying minimum fuel, and selecting a small and trim individual to ride along as observer and spotter.
There are some lovely planes here. We both admire the more military looking Navions and those pictured here are some of our favorites.
The Navions lined up on the ramp in order of predicted speed (fastest to slowest), and the timers (pictured above) flagged them off one minute apart. A speedy take-off and full-throttle flight takes them to the destination airport, where they are timed again as they cross the field. (Before GPS was around to provide direct line-of-flight between the airports, the contest was much more challenging, as pilots had to navigate, correct for crosswinds, etc.)
Many owners have poured heart and soul (and cash) into their planes, restoring these now-vintage aircraft to pristine condition (or better); they seem to live and breathe Navions. We feel fortunate being able to attend, meet these kind folk, learn from their experience and expertise, and explore southern Utah.
The Canadian owner of this plane and told us stories of flying around Central America and landing in Cuba. To land in Cuba he disguised his plane a bit, covering the US military logos and wording. Another owner told of flying his plane over the North Atlantic to Europe (the usual route goes via Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, and Scotland).
The "speed contest" took only the morning, so we headed out to see Bryce Canyon National Park in the afternoon.
Here is a sample of what we saw, a mere snapshot, one of many trying to capture the immense vista.
From our seat on the edge of the canyon, the hikers below appeared as virtual ants (to coin the cliche) against the towering spires.
As is so often true Nature, it was more a place to experience than to capture in photos.
I am glad we chose to visit Bryce Canyon at the spur of the moment, as the rock formations and views are different from what I expected after visiting nearby Zion National Park.

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