A trip to remember | SierraSun.com

A trip to remember

(Editor’s Note: In the April 19 Sierra Sun, we ran an article on Truckee pilots Danny and Maureen Motola, who were planning a cross-country trip in their small plane, exploring 30 states and flying an estimated 6,000 miles in a month’s time. The Motolas are sending us periodic updates on their trip to date.)

April 29, 2001: Week 1

On Saturday, April 28, we reached the Atlantic Ocean at Hilton Head, S.C., exactly one week after leaving Truckee. We had completed our coast-to-coast flight.

Last Saturday in Truckee, the snow finally stopped falling and on Sunday morning we patiently waited for the fog to lift. Finally departing at 8:30 a.m., our flight began. With great tail winds and clear skies we soon arrived in Orange County where one of our sons and his wife awaited us with a great lunch.

Next morning at 8:30 a.m. we departed and headed northeast. Our next point of interest was to be Paria Canyon, Ariz., a place known for its spectacular red sandstone formations.

We dropped down from a 6,000-foot precipice to land at Marble Canyon Airport. Again Dan had a challenge with a very narrow runway that humped in the middle and curved to the right. The tie-down area was unfriendly with large chucks of slate in the dirt and the locals were also unfriendly, so we hopped over to Page, Ariz.

We dined at a lodge overlooking Lake Powell, then we left Page at 9:30 the next morning and flew over the lake, viewing the fingers that form mini bays, perfect for small boats. With magnificent scenery, this has to be one of our favorite places in America.

Then we turned directly east to Monument Valley, Utah. My dream, to fly through the monuments, was about to begin. We flew in between the rock spires that make this one of the wonders of America.

We had perfect weather and a perfect day, until I landed at Tucumcari, N.M., to refuel and eat lunch. When Dan taxied out for take-off, the tail wheel had deflated. We found later that the stem had separated from the tube. The airport was almost deserted, with only one young man in charge. His manager had just left and he had no tools and no jack. A call to the manager brought him back to our rescue. After an hour, we were back in the air.

By April 25 at 11:30 a.m., we had just landed at the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City. We toured the Ninety-Nines museum and were impressed at what women in aviation have achieved in the last 75 years.

Day six took us to into Tennessee. We crossed the Tennessee River, large enough for barge traffic and headed for Chattanooga – what a discovery. This town is on the banks of the Tennessee River and has a beautiful campground 20 miles away. The terrain is full of hills and trees. Cut right out of the forest are the homes, the towns, the farms, etc. All around you, there is a gamut of green shades.

The campground was on Chickamauga Lake formed by the river, and we had a very pleasant stay. Although the park was almost full, the people and even the dogs are respectful of the peacefulness and are quiet. The birds, however, are not. As we sat contemplating the new day, the birds were all twittering in their southern drawl. Somewhere a woodpecker was bashing a poor tree. Once in a while a pair of Canada Geese honked by while a lonely blue heron screeched in hopes of finding companionship.

Again we flew east, this time as far as we could go, to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. It is famous for golf and right on the Atlantic Ocean. We had completed our Coast to Coast part of the trip. We turned left and landed at Charleston.

Now we will relax, tour the city and plan our next route.

See you in a week.

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