We lunched at The Hideaway, an Italian cafe overlooking the canyons, where once more I became overwhelmed by the choice available in American restaurants - fourteen different salad dressings; twelve different sodas!
Having rented the car for only two hours, we headed back to Sedona airport - and the cowboys, Jason and Jay - constantly looking up at the towering clouds and congratulating ourselves, in that way all pilots do, for not going. I recited the ole, 'it's better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here' adage to Kevin, who claimed not to have heard it before (but he might have been being polite!)
After take off, we climbed straight into the burbly. We were hot, high (density altitude pushing 7500ft) and turbulent, but able to climb quickly and ascend past the worst. The journey back was spectacular; my words fail in doing justice to the magnificence of the scenery, and I'm afraid my photos aren't even close in illustrating how stunning the area is. We flew to Mount Superstition (there's a legend about gold on the top) and then home, towards Chandler, all the while chatting and comparing the difference in terminology between flying here and back in Australia.
Upon our return, I mentioned to Kevin that I would like to fly some circuits (or 'shoot some laps') to acquaint myself with Mr Floaty the 172, so he called inbound for circuits. Kevin was utterly convinced he could teach me to land the 172 without any float, and convinced me to pull to idle on base and apply absolutely no power unless necessary. Blow me down, it worked. I flew four very successful (although far from perfect) circuits, with the pesky Cessna behaving like a mild-manner Cherokee on every landing.
As we flew the final circuit, I said, "call the tower and request a glide approach. Let's see if I can land Mr Floaty from downwind!" Kevin declared a glide approach doesn't need tower approval in the US, so I pulled back to idle and made for the field. "Whatcha doing?!" asked Kevin, slightly ruffled. "A glide approach," I declared. "Ohhhh. That's not a glide approach! That's a short approach! That requires tower approval!"
There, right on base, was a fabulous example of an aeronautical language barrier! As I'd pretty much started, Kevin let me fly the approach, which ended in a successful landing, and I taxied back, triumphant. Not only had I had one of the most splendid days of the year, but I'd landed a 172, repeatedly, without any float. To say I was stoked would be an understatement.
After a long chat with Kevin, Jason (the school owner) and a very sardonic LAME, I asked for my bill, with baited breath. We'd flown nearly four hours, which in Australia, with an instructor, would exceed $1,200. When Jason printed out my account, I nearly fainted. $560!!!
There and then, and not for the last time, I declared I am not going back to Australia. At those prices, I could afford to rent a Bonanza - or maybe even, dream of dreams, afford to own one. I drove home (on the right side of the road, all the way) to a musical rendition of It's a Yankee Life for Me...