G'day! and welcome to my blog's new home. I'd like to say a big 'cheers mate' to Clay for building me such a fabulous new house.

Here you will find my articles and blogs from the sky documenting my aerial adventure across Australia, and sometimes - when I'm very lucky - around the world!

Lots of airyplanes, plenty of new shoes and hopefully many undiscovered places.

Blue skies,

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cactus Mountain and Hercules Canyon

....and the Yankee life continued, with a short hop to Tuscon - where I met a very interesting lady called Barb, a traveller who considers herself 'home free' rather than homeless - before rocking up at the car hire counter to discover I'd be upgraded - to a convertible Mustang!!

I drove (gingerly, in the rain and the dark, at about 30mph) to Loews, the lovely hotel I'd booked in the canyon and managed to get myself so completely lost trying to find the front entrance that I had to be rescued by a young man who was on his way back to staff HQ. Curious as to why a 41 year old woman was wondering around a staff carpark towing a lurid suitcase, he guided me to front desk and sent someone to retrieve my car (which I had parked over two spaces). I was kindly upgraded to a suite, and repaired to bed straight away.

In the morning, as I drew back the thick, luscious curtains, I saw immediately that I was in Arizona 'proper'. Ahead of me was a spectacular mountain, embedded with cacti. It looked exactly like a Roadrunner cartoon. With the day shaping up to be 'scorchio' (that's over 40 on my barometer) I threw open the roof of the Stang, and made for the air-conditioned bliss of the PIMA Air and Space Museum.

At the museum, I was (very kindly) given a tour by the museum's Director of Marketing and Visitor Services, Mary Emich, a woman with a vision for this non-government funded museum. With the enthusiasm and passion I so love to see in aviation, Mary showed me around the main hangar, introducing me to some of the volunteers who form the backbone of the museum, as guides, tour operators and restorers.

I can't go into too much detail here, as I intend to compile a feature for Australian Pilot, but suffice to say, a wonderful, wonderful day was spent. First, among the hangars, where I quickly found my very favourite aircraft! Secondly, I embarked on a tour, led by the most fabulous tour guide who was an ex-fighter pilot in Nam. His sparkling and unique commentary kept me riveted for the entire one hour tour,

where we visited every aircraft outside the museum by open-top bus. After the tour, I revelled in the aviation themed cafe before touring WWII hangars, the nose art and the Space Center.

Of course, everyone knows the highlight of a visit to PIMA is the tour of the boneyard: the military controlled ground where over 4,000 aircraft go to die. I cannot express my awe (and sense of sadness) in seeing rows upon rows of defunct aircraft, groaning in the sun and rotting to death. However, our tour guide, one of the many fabulous military men with moustaches, pointed out that many of the aircraft are donors, there to provide parts to allied countries who are still flying some of the fabulous ancient birds. It reminded me very much of Ishiguru's story of the orphans who are cloned for their organs, until I was made to remember that these aircraft had had full and exotic lives.

With that, I visited the gift shop, threw back the roof of the Stang again, and went to admire the boneyard from the road. With the sun setting on rows and rows and rows of C130s, backdropped by the cactus-y mountain, I felt perfectly content. And very much ready to eat a whole plate of Quesadillas.