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Road trip - Calgary to Santa Monica

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Road trip - Calgary to Santa Monica

Old 19th Aug 2015, 05:52
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Road trip - Calgary to Santa Monica

I'm on the road to visit my daughter and grand-daughter in Santa Monica. I'll also have the opportunity to see piperboy84's new Maule.

It's a long trip - about 1600 miles direct, but 2200 for me due to a detour to see the Grand Canyon.

I thought I would stop and photograph road-side aircraft on the way, to make the trip more interesting. First stop was the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, south of Calgary:

Ten days ago, I was ferrying a glider towplane past Nanton and I was pleased to see that they had the Lancaster outside, because it was a holiday weekend. That certainly slows down the traffic!

The only other aircraft I saw was a Huey on a pole at Helena's airport. I wasn't able to stop, so here's a photo from the web:

Non-aviation aside:
It is many years since I drove across Montana and I had forgotten how big and empty it is. It's nearly twice the area of the UK but has a population of only one million. I drove about 400 miles on Interstate 15 from north to south and that's the narrow dimension! During my drive I could frequently see about two miles of the highway behind and in front of me and often there were only one or two vehicles visible and sometimes none! I probably saw less than 300 vehicles while crossing the state!

I drove 670 miles today to Idaho Falls, so I'm a bit knackered! However, tomorrow is an easy day - three hours to Ogden, Utah and the Hill AFB museum. I'm also meeting someone to view a very rare glider. So stay tuned.

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Old 19th Aug 2015, 06:49
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Road trip - Calgary to Santa Monica

You lucky bugger. I've just moved back to the UK after 3.5 years in Alberta and road trips through the States is one of the things I'll miss most. Montana was one of my favourites if not the favourite of all the states I visited.

Happy driving.

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Old 20th Aug 2015, 04:47
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Day 2

I'm old enough to remember when the day time speed limit in Montana was "reasonable and prudent". Fun times with a fast sports car!

Leaving Idaho Falls, I saw an Ag Wagon at low-level. The first time I've seen an operational crop-duster for many years.

No roadside aircraft on I15 until Hill AFB. Before reaching Hill, I was driving through Ogden, when I saw a steam locomotive, which caused me to screech to a halt at what turned out to be a railroad museum at the old Union Station. I know there are quite a few railway enthusiasts here, so I thought I would post a couple of pictures:

UP Northern class 4-8-4. Six-foot drivers and a top speed of over 100 mph.

A slight aeronautical connection. This is UP X-26, a gas turbine-electric locomotive, with an 8500 HP GE turbine, driving a generator. Designed to replace the Big Boy locomotives, it had a tractive effort of 212,000 lb.

Further down the road, after coming off I15, the Hill Museum is hard to miss:

It is an extremely good museum, with a lot of exhibits, both inside and outside. I decided to photograph only aircraft I had not seen before. I'll post them on the museum thread, but here are my three favourites:

Douglas C-124 Globemaster II

Northrop F-89 Scorpion

Martin RB-57A

After the museum, I drove to Morgan County Airport, in the mountains, east of Ogden. I had an appointment to follow up on something I had spotted on Google Earth - the unmistakeable outline of a Slingsby T-53. It's languishing de-rigged in a hangar and has been sold. My guide had flown it and said its handling was somewhat reminiscent of a Blanik L-13, but with poor ergonomics, particularly the front rudder pedals. He showed me a repair of the spar carry-through structure, required by an AD. A previous owner had merely stop-drilled the cracks!

I was then given a tour of some of the hangars and saw many interesting aeroplanes. The highlight was an immaculate 3/4 scale Fiesler Storch:

I then drove to Heber, Utah via the Park City ski area. Off to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

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Old 20th Aug 2015, 06:10
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Fantastic trip!

Remind me, did the Yorkshire Sailplanes YS-53 begat the T-53 or was it the other way round? Never seen one, somehow seems odd to come across one in the USA!

Keep the reports coming...
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Old 20th Aug 2015, 06:39
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The T-53 begat the YS-53. There's an existing thread here, started by the previous owner of the one I saw at Morgan County Airport:


On the driving side, I've now done about 1000 miles, mostly on Interstate highways. Since crossing the border from Canada, I have not seen a single accident or any police cars! Everyone seems to drive 5-10 mph faster than the limit, which has mostly been 65 (UT), 70 (MT) or 80 (ID). The traffic only started to become heavier in northern Utah and the number of lanes each way correspondingly increased from two to three or four.

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Old 20th Aug 2015, 08:34
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Two personal recommendations;

Planes of Fame Museum, Chino, California.

PLANES OF FAME - Chino, CA Location

The fish and chips at Ye Olde Kings Head Pub, Santa Monica.

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Old 20th Aug 2015, 23:54
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Thanks for the link I42, needs a proper read on Sunday! The Sigma, forgotten about that, first pic I've seen of it on the ground, bit ungainly!

Chino, PoF is superb, so too the Yanks Museum if they are still there.

Have fun you lucky so and so...
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Old 21st Aug 2015, 04:01
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Day 3 - Heber City to Moab

No aeronautical sights today, so TAPs can skip to the end.

After looking at the map, I decided to change my itinerary. Instead of going directly to the Grand Canyon, I made a detour to the southeast, heading for Meteor Crater, east of Flagstaff. This allowed me to drive through Moab, which has some spectacular scenery and geology, which was a bonus for me, since I'm a geologist. I took Highway 40 to Duschene and then south on 191 through spectacular mountains to Carbonville (a coal mining town - no surprise there) and then on to Green River, passing the spectacular Book Cliffs on the way (not my photo):

A short drive along I70 and then back onto 191 to Moab. Before entering Moab, I went into Arches National Park.

Absolutely stunning scenery:

To get to Delicate Arch (last two photos), I had to hike 1.5 miles each way, with a height gain of 500'. The hike is described somewhat euphemistically by the Parks Service as "moderately strenuous". There was a Ranger at the trailhead, making sure that everyone had water - the temperature was about 30 C - and I suspect she was also assessing the ability of the candidates. Apparently I passed and I made it up and back in one piece, but I was so tired, I decided to check into a motel in Moab, rather than continue.

Moab is a nice, tourist oriented town. I chose a Mexican restaurant that came highly recommended in Tripadvisor. The food was very good, but this was the first Mexican restaurant I have been to that did not serve alcohol. Only in Utah!

What did not surprise me is that when I opened the desk drawer in my room, there was not only the ubiquitous Gideon Bible, but also the Book of Mormon.

So today's trip was almost a local jaunt compared to days one and two - only 300 miles. One piece of advice for anyone driving in the US, particularly in the west. Always fill your tank before setting off in the morning. It is much better to have half a tank left when you've got about 100 miles to go, rather than having the low-fuel light come on in the middle of nowhere.

I replied to your post but apparently it didn't get posted. Chino is on my to-do list for when I am in Santa Monica. Concerning the King's Head, my wife and I had Sunday lunch there once and it was awful. However, I'll go back and try the fish and chips.


I'm trying to get hold of a write up of what Dave Marsden did to the Sigma and what happened to it subsequently. He put full-span slotted flaps on it, based on his experience with his side-by-side Gemini. There is some information about Dave here:
Ken Armstrong Articles July 04

I was surprised by the construction of the T-53. Reminiscent of the HP-14, which is to be expected, but the build-quality and detail design was very amateurish. Also, as has often been commented on, there are way too many ribs - the spacing looked about a foot to me. You need a large crew to rig and derig, because of the weight of the wings. This is one of those gliders you want to leave in the hangar, fully rigged!

340 miles and 5:30 to Meteor Crater tomorrow. I had better get to bed.

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Old 21st Aug 2015, 14:04
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Great photos sir, and for the Uncle Roger reference. It gave me a chuckle. Enjoy your trip and stay safe.
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Old 22nd Aug 2015, 04:15
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Day 4 - Moab UT to Winslow AZ


Glad you like the pictures. Your name reminded me that I've got a couple of photos from the Hill AFB Museum that I must post on Phantom Friday. I'm also pleased you got the Roger Bacon reference.

Another non-aeronautical day, but bear with me - I'll make up for it on Saturday.

380 miles today, slightly longer than the direct route, due to a couple of detours. I think driving in the West alters your sense of scale. Shortly after leaving Moab, I reached this sign:

"Hmm, only 44 miles there and back to Needles Overlook. Just a short detour!"

It was worth it. This is the Colorado River valley, BEFORE it becomes the Grand Canyon:

Once I had left Utah and was in Arizona, driving through the Navajo Nation, I realized I was going to pass very near Canyon de Chelly, so I drove in to have a look. Spectacular:

My detours meant I didn't make it to Meteor Crater, so I stopped for the night in Winslow, a town that is dying on its feet. I got a good motel room for $39!

Well if you ever plan to motor west
Travel my way, take the highway that's the best
Get your kicks on Route 66.
Just before Winslow, I saw my first police car on the highway after 1500 miles of driving - an Arizona Highway Patrol officer writing up a speeding ticket.

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Old 22nd Aug 2015, 14:22
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FWIW, Kingman AZ has a pretty good airliner bone yard and a small museum of sorts. Drive from Kingman to Las Vegas. Get a good look at Hoover Damn and catch some of the action around Nellis AFB and then Interstate 15 all the way into LAX. About a five hour drive from LAS.
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Old 22nd Aug 2015, 20:40
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I always knew you were a man of taste (you like Chipmunks after all); now you've confirmed this with your appreciation of steam locomotives!

I'm really enjoying this thread - more please.

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Old 22nd Aug 2015, 22:50
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I am enjoying your travelogue Simon, and you are clearly a man of good taste, but these Alberta-based pedestal mounts mustn't have been on your road-side route whilst southbound from Calgary:

Calgary - Canadair CF-5 Freedom Fighter

Claresholm - Canadian Car & Foundry Harvard

Lethbridge - Canadair CT-133 Silver Star

Warner - Canadair CT-133 Silver Star

When in Santa Monica, I highly recommend "The Lobster" restaurant on Ocean Ave. Reservations recommended.

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Old 23rd Aug 2015, 06:03
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Day 5 - Winslow to Grand Canyon

Dora 9,

I'm glad you liked the locomotive pictures. They were acquired at significant personal cost and inconvenience. I tripped and skinned my knee quite badly and then while recovering from the shock, I discovered I had locked my keys in the car. Luckily the AAA came to my rescue very quickly.


I didn't think of photographing road-side aircraft until after I had driven past the CF-5 in Calgary; I decided the Claresholm Harvard was too far off the road; I didn't know about the Silver Stars in Lethbridge and Warner. However, thanks for adding them to my travelogue.

Spooky 2,

Thanks for the suggestion. Las Vegas is too far north. I've decided to drive via Edwards and Lancaster.

Plenty of aircraft today, plus some more geology.

I left Winslow earlier than I planned, because I was still on Mountain Daylight Time and I hadn't realized that Arizona stays on Standard Time. I drove a short distance west on I40 and turned off on a road which must be unique in terms of its name and speed limit:

The crater rim is on the skyline and looks like a small ridge at this distance. It's a lot different when you get there:

Three-quarters of a mile wide and 560' deep (originally deeper), created 50,000 years ago by a 50 m wide nickel-iron meteorite. Estimated impact energy 10 megatons.

There are two aeronautical connections, one I knew about and one I was surprised by.

In the courtyard of the visitor center is an Apollo "boiler plate" module, which was used for flotation and recovery tests. It is there to commemorate the use of the crater by Gene Shoemaker to teach crater geology to Apollo astronauts:

In August 1964, a C-150 pilot tried to orbit within the crater and got done-in by the density altitude. The elevation is 5700'.

Most of the wreckage has been removed, but one wing and the rear fuselage are still there. No one is allowed on the crater floor anymore.

I left the crater and continued west on I40, which follows the course of the old Route 66, through Winona and then Flagstaff, where I turned northwards for the Grand Canyon. On the way I stopped off at the Planes of Fame museum at Valle. I spent MUCH more time there than I had planned. Here's a selection of pictures.

Grumman F-11-F1 Tiger (looks like a Gnat on steroids):

Siemens-Schuckert D IV

A very sad Vampire

A Constellation being returned to the air after 20 years

While I was there, the crew mounted the last engine.

It took them about twenty minutes to get it bolted on. Not a hard-hat, safety glasses, steel-toed boot or fluorescent jacket in sight!

If restoring an essentially complete aircraft doesn't appeal and you've got plenty of money, how about this?

Take the wing of a KC-97 (and engines):

and mate them with the rear fuselage of a B-50:

and the front fuselage stored at Chino and turn it into an airworthy B-50. Not just any B-50 - this fuselage is 46-0010 Lucky Lady II, which flew around the world non-stop in 1949.

Anyone know what this is?

To be continued.

Last edited by India Four Two; 21st Feb 2022 at 20:07. Reason: Added title. Corrected I70 to I40. Removed PhotoBucket logos.
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Old 23rd Aug 2015, 07:39
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I'm so envious but I'd like to echo Dora-9's earlier comment - keep it coming!
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Old 23rd Aug 2015, 08:13
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Anyone know what this is?
Left hand one is a Hindustan Gnat - Ajeet.

T'other one might be a Douglas Skyknight F3D

Wonderful thread. What's your wheels Simon ? .......... LFH
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Old 23rd Aug 2015, 17:09
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I thought it looked a bit Gnat-like, but I was put off by the nose cone and the circular object in the intake. That makes it the 4th Ajeet I've seen - in my defence, the other three were from a distance while driving. I hadn't thought about the other aircraft.

I'm driving a 2007 Jetta.

No time to finish yesterday's writeup yet. I'm off to raft down the Colorado from Lake Powell to Lee's Ferry! ��
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Old 23rd Aug 2015, 19:01
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The nose cone probably encloses the gunsight radar ranging.

The circular object in the intake is associated with (ie it's a housing rather than the gun muzzle per se.) the 30mm ADEN cannon - one each side. I think it was 60 rounds per gun. I hate to think what firing did to disrupt the intake airflow, but if there was a problem I guess it was made to work a la Hunter and Swift (not.)

Apparently it is difficult to distinguish between the Folland or HAL-built Gnat F.1 and the HAL-built improved Gnat that they called the Ajeet. It could be either.

Scuttlebutt says the Yanks wanted 500 but when Folland heard they were to be used as targets they threw a wobbly and declined the order
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Old 24th Aug 2015, 06:02
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Day 5 - continued

There are so many interesting aircraft at the Planes of Fame Museum at Valle, I felt I should post a few more.

Martin MGM-1 Matador - the USAF's first cruise missile

Bf-109G-10 (airworthy, except for the prop)

Hispano Ha. 200 Saeta

Convair L-13A Grasshopper

Grumman F-3F-2

Standard J-1

Aichi D3A Val Replica (made from a BT-15) - Tora Tora Tora movie

Another BT-15

I forgot to write down the name of this biplane. 2022 - I shouldn't have been so lazy. The Chino website tells me it's a Fleet Model 2:

2022 - Go to the Planes of Fame website to see their amazing collection. Sort by Location to see the Chino collection first and then Valle.


After I left the museum, I drove north to the Grand Canyon Airport and went for a tour of the canyon in an EC-120:

Don't even think about trying to set QFE here - the elevation is 6600' !

I took a video which I'll edit into something usable.

In the meantime, here are three of my "sunset" pictures.

It's hard to get a sense of scale - the river is 5000' down and the cliffs on the far side - the North Rim - are 12 miles away!

This is one of those places where pictures are no substitute for being there.

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Old 24th Aug 2015, 16:19
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SPOT tracker

I meant to post this earlier but forgot. I bought a SPOT satellite tracker before leaving Calgary and have been testing it during my trip.

If anyone is interested, you can follow my progress here (there are currently 13 pages):

SPOT Shared Page

I'm very impressed with the SPOT. Besides the tracking mode, there are three buttons for sending text messages to family and friends. You set up the text of the messages online in advance. So on this trip, I send an "I'm here" message to my family at the end of the day. I had a message yesterday from my daughter who said "Dad, I see you are travelling down the Colorado River. I hope that is on a raft and not in your car."

There is also a guarded SOS switch which will send a position to the appropriate SAR authority.
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