Durango Trip Report 2002

by Paul A. Rosales

We had a great SoCAL Wing turnout for our Memorial Day Weekend (2002) trip to Durango, Colorado! Victoria and I left Memorial Day Friday for Payson (PAN), AZ (2.5 hr flight) where we had breakfast with our friends Debbie & Jeff. Then I left Victoria with Debbie and took Debbie's father for a 1 hour flight to Tucson (TUS) Int'l where we used an airport car to go to the Pima Air Museum. This museum is HUGE but we were able to take a quick walk around in 2 hours (the limit on the airport car). We flew back to Payson where I was greeted on the ramp by Gary Sobek :-) We hadn't quite hooked up in the morning (my cell phone was off) so we just missed him leaving Payson (he was at Sedona, 20 min away). We had an enjoyable evening visiting with our friends sitting on the porch under the almost full moon. Saturday morning, we were back at the airport for breakfast where I was kindly asked if I could fly 2 Young Eagles...go flying...no problem! By the time I landed after the second flight, Gary/Linda Hart (RV-6) and Tom/Lori Prokop (RV-6) arrived to Payson. After fueling, we departed as a 4-ship eastbound towards Durango, CO with not really much in the way of 'things to see' enroute. The most we saw of interest was a mountain near Farmington, NM called Shiprock. At first sighting, it looked like a mountain all by itself on the high plateau but as we passed more abeam it, we could see that it really resembled one of those large oil-tankers: Big cab/tower at the back of the ship with a large forward platform. Shiprock is located just southeast of Four-Corners. We continued on to Durango-La Plata County airport (DRO) landing about 1.8 hours after leaving Payson. Gary/Tom could have flown non-stop from Los Angeles, about 15 minutes from the airport. There we'd no sooner checked in when someone pulled a brochure from the wall describing the 'Bar-D Ranch' where they served up a 'chuckwagon' meal with plenty of cowboy singing to go with it...Let's go! We made it just as they started serving some great food complete with tin plates and tin cups. After dinner, we were treated to a quartet with members ranging in age from early 20s to late 80s! It was really a LOT of fun and were real glad we went!

Sunday morning, we left aboard the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Train. This too was a TON of fun as you ride a steam powered, coal fueled Train!

The ride up the Animas River is quite awesome to say the least and there were times that you were 400' above the river and could not see the ground below the train when looking down!

Almost a 4 hour train ride to Silverton with some spectacular sights to see all the way up the mountain! After arriving, we had just over 2 hours to look around this old town.

Before re-boarding the train, we gathered for a group photo. Left to right: Gary Sobek, Gary & Linda Hart, Paul & Victoria Rosales and Lori & Tom Prokop.

It was then back down the hill to Durango. Dinner was at a place called 'Serious Texas Bar-b-que' and it too was VERY good! Ice cream at Dairy Queen ended the night :-) Monday morning, Gary Hart and Tom took off for a direct flight home as Gary Sobek, Victoria and I flew up the same canyon the train to Silverton takes, and we got to see it all over again, including the Train...in about 15 minutes!!!!

We jumped the hill near Silverton (at 12K) and landed at Telluride (TEX), CO about 10 minutes later. Telluride is 'must-land' airport as it is the highest commercial airport (9078') in the USA (Leadville is the highest airport at 9927'). The runway can be seen in the center of the picture and looks like a 'ski-jump'!

The town itself sits in a box canyon with 13K+ mountains on 3 sides.

Gary and I topped the tanks then continued west to Monument Valley where we had a short photo shoot.

We turned northwest (15 minutes) towards Lake Powell where we flew the main channel, in formation, for another 15 minutes or so. This was our first chance to see this beautiful shoreline up close, and the water level was WAY down...

Turns out that flying the main channel put us pretty much on our direct course to North Las Vegas (VGT) airport. We arrived inbound over Calville Bay (Lake Mead), and I called approach for Class B clearance using the 'Showboat' arrival into VGT. All went smoothly with approach and landing with a flight time from Telluride of 3.4 hours. We fueled, had lunch then continued home. Gary split off around Barstow-Daggett airport, and we overflew Edwards AFB home to Rosamond, just over an hour flight. Total trip flight time for us was 13.4 hours with our hobbs at 977 hours. We still 'pinch' ourselves thinking all this was possible in a plane we built at HOME!!! I hope these reports continue to offer motivation to builders as those Gary Sobek wrote while I was building motivated us!

Keep poundin' them rivets as it's ALL worth it! Paul & Victoria

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