One of the great things about the blogosphere is the people you might meet. I say “might” because the blog only goes so far. At some point, I have to pick up the phone or email and make the personal contact. I met Maria Langer last February when I was in Wickenburg. Who could not be intrigued by a best selling computer book author who also happens to have a helicopter charter business? And she has horses, chickens and a husband! Maria spent the early summer drying cherries on contract to some Washington orchards, now she’s in Page flying for tourists, so I had the chance to stop in on my way from SLC to Phoenix.
There wasn’t a room to be had in Page on Friday night – I thought gasoline was expensive, but plenty of people were motoring huge watercraft about the lake this weekend. Maria put me up in her trailer and introduced me to the rest of the pilots camped out in the RV park near the airport. This pilot subculture, like river guides and dude wranglers, has its own language and customs, but hospitality seems to rank high. The next morning, Maria suggested breakfast at Marble Canyon, about 40 miles from Page by car. It’s only 10 minutes by helicopter if you go the straight path; we did not. What fun would that be?
Maria put me completely at ease in the air, and on the way back, she took off the door on my side so I could get some shots without the bubble glare. She flew a legal path over the restricted area inside Grand Canyon National Park boundaries, and then circled over the famous Horseshoe Bend at a couple different altitudes. I also got some shots of both the Glen Canyon and Marble Canyon Bridges (2 of the seven land crossings over the Colorado River in 750 miles) and a fascinating look at Antelope Canyon from above.
If I had a sponsor for the flight time, I would do an aerial tour of the entire length of U.S. Highway 89. We have so many locations emblazoned on our memories from a particular location, and I’d love to show some of my favorite places from different perspectives. Most people make a short hike from Highway 89 to the Horseshoe Bend. They see it from the upper right in this image and never get to see the rest of the s-curve.
Maria is a photographer herself, and knows how to work with other photographers in the air. She has put together some outstanding aerial tours, including a week-long circle of the highlights of Arizona. If you are looking to fly with someone, I highly recommend Flying M Air (and the breakfast at the Cliff Dwellers Lodge).