The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn


The Knife & Fork


Breakfast Club Visits Historic Tombstone/Longhorn Restaurant

12 Nov 05
by Warren McIlvoy

The November Breakfast Club event saw the group heading southeast for a chance to rub elbows with a bit of history. Tombstone, Arizona "the town to tough to die" is awash with colorful, if not bawdy history and lore. This place is too interesting not to make a visit every couple of years of so.

My wife had a bit of a head cold so she decided that it would not be a good idea for her to go flying so I was faced with the prospect of making the trip down there solo. As I entered the airport gate, I noticed another vehicle approaching me from the opposite direction. I quickly recognized the vehicle as that of Richard Spiegel (BC-3). I stopped as did he and I inquired if he was going to Tombstone. He replied that he was and I asked him if he minded if I "thumbed" a ride with him as I was solo today. He said that he had plenty of room in his Seneca so I did a U-turn and followed him to his hangar.

I suggested that we might consider taking another route to Tombstone rather than taking the Phoenix Transition and then flying southeast over the somewhat uninteresting real-estate towards Coolidge. I had planned on flying in an easterly direction to Grine intersection that is just north of Sahuaro Lake at 7500' and direct to San Manuel and then direct to Tombstone. This route would take us over somewhat mountainous terrain but the scenery would be much more diverse and it would keep us out of the restricted areas..

After departing Deer Valley runway 7R, the plan was to contact Phoenix Approach to get Class B clearance to 7500' and overfly Scottsdale direct to Grine. Two calls to approach only got us a "stand by". That response ruled-out the overflight of Scottsdale. Richard opted to fly over Pinnacle Peak to remain out of the SDL airspace. When just north of Fountain Hills, we heard another caller to approach which resulted in his getting his clearance. Richard tried twice more to contact approach but they ignored us completely. We gave up that effort and remained under the floor of the overlaying Class B airspace until well east of valley and eventually climbed to our cruise altitude of 7500'. We were monitoring our air-to-air radio frequency and listening to the banter and position reports while adding a few comments of our own.

From the Grine intersection to San Manuel, you pretty much fly parallel to the mountain ridges that do not exceed 5000' so at 7500', you have a comfortable margin. Our course took us just to the west of Superior and Kearny. From Kearny, the ridges smooth-out to form the San Pedro River Valley bordered on the west by the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Galiuro Mountains on the east. The weather was "severe clear" and the air was as smooth as silk. Richard has an I-pod wired into this intercom so here we are tootling along, fat, dumb, and happy listening to country tunes and enjoying the scenery. It does not get much better than that. Soon it was time to start our descent into Tombstone and right traffic for runway 24. Runway 24 has a slight up-hill gradient and the exit to the parking is at the southwest end with a left turn. The ramp only has accommodation to tie-down three aircraft so, naturally, the early arrivals got those first. For the rest of us, we backed the arriving aircraft into every nook and cranny on the balance of the paved ramp. The last person to arrive would be the first person to depart. Tess Adams of Sonrise Aviation (520) 235-5843 was our local contact for our fly-in event. She had arranged to get two vans from a nearby RV park to meet us at the airport to provide transportation to and from the airport.

The ride into town is only about 4-5 miles so it was not long before reaching the Longhorn Restaurant on Allen Street. The Longhorn Restaurant had arranged a long table for the
Breakfast Club group in another room off the main diningroom. The menu was fairly extensive and the prices were relatively inexpensive for a tourist town. And yet an added surprise was that the food was quite tasty. All-in-all, I would recommend that we make a return visit to the Longhorn.

The last time that we were here, Allen Street was a normal thourghfare with the associated vehicular traffic and all. Now, it is blocked-off to all vehicle traffic with only the cross streets accessible to motorized traffic. The paved street has been replaced with a gravel road sort of like "progress in reverse". Allen Street is also the location of most of the famed buildings from lore and legend. The OK Corral as well as the Bird Cage Theater. The infamous gunfight between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday on one side and the McLaury and Clanton Brothers on the other did not actually take place at the OK Corral (the OK Corral was actually located on Fremont Street). Although closer to Fly's Photography Studio than to the corral, this battle was given its name from an Eastern newspaper, making it an overnight legend! But then again, if the duel in the street had taken place in front of "Wong's Chinese Laundry", it would not have the mystique that it now enjoys with the OK Corral name being attached to it. On the other hand, the Bird Cage Theater's history is almost legendary. The Saloon/playhouse was a twenty-four a day operation that featured libations for the locals, musical revues for the "arts" entertainment, and "girls of the night". There were small rooms on either side of the main floor at the balcony level that were rented by the hour and were accessed via a narrow staircase located in the saloon area. I venture to bet that more money traded hands at the Bird Cage than at all of the local banks combined.

I found this bit of Tombstone history from Ben T. Traywick's book entitled "The Chronicles of Tombstone", which can be purchased at Red Marie's Bookstore, P.O. Box 891, Tombstone, Arizona 85638.

"The Townsite of Tombstone (a name invented by Edward Schieffelin - see story below) was laid out on March 5, 1879. At that time Tombstone had 40 cabins and 100 people. Allen Streets lots sold for $5. By June 20, 1880 there were 3,000 people in the town and by late 1881 there was over 7,000 people in town and more gambling houses, saloons, and a larger "boothill" and "red light" district than any town in the southwest. Population increased rapidly from that time, and in the 1890's it had reached a maximum of 15,000".

Another structure that has been the subject of movies and a TV series is the offices of The Tombstone Epitaph. I found this little tidbit of history regarding this famous newspaper:

        Debut of the "Tombstone Epitaph," oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona

"On May 1, 1880, onetime Indian agent, Republican activist, and publisher of the "Tucson Citizen" John Philip Clum, a recent arrival in Tombstone, premiered the inaugural edition of the "Tombstone Epitaph," a weekly (later daily) newspaper. In his first editorial, Clum described Tombstone as "a city set upon a hill" and compared the silver camp with ancient Rome. The first "Epitaph" contained extensive coverage of the mines within the Tombstone district, and reported that the camp's population "exceeds 2,000." Source: "Epitaph" files, AHS Library, Tucson, AZ

Today, the newspaper is under the direction of the Journalism Department at the University of Arizona.

"They call Tombstone "the town too tough to die," and for more than a century, The Tombstone Epitaph has been part of the area's colorful history. Students have produced the local edition since 1975 as part of the Community Journalism class.

Epitaph staffers recently won Arizona Newspapers Association awards for feature writing; photography; and sustained coverage, for their reporting about the Minutemen Project's activities on the U.S.-Mexico border. Students were in competition with professional journalists working for community newspapers throughout Arizona.

The Epitaph, which is published twice a month during the fall and spring academic semesters, is distributed in specific locations throughout southern Arizona and is available online".

After visiting many of the shops and emporiums as well as some of the famous buildings, we headed back up Allan Street to rendezvous with our shuttle ride back out to the airport. The procedure for departing was, tow the aircraft to the "taxiway" and away from the ramp to avoid the inevitable prop blast from engine start-up. Since wind was not a consideration, we would taxi to the runway for our run-up and then depart downhill on runway 6.

We turned north following the reverse course of our arrival but as we neared San Manuel, Richard turned to the northwest to fly over the Biosphere. From there it was over Coolidge and then to Deer Valley via the Phoenix Transition.

I would like to express the appreciation of all of the Breakfast Club folks for all of the efforts of Tess Adams. Without her valuable efforts in setting-up the van transportation and the restaurant accommodations, this event would not have taken place. Thanks again Tess, you are a delight to work with.

The Tombstone Gang

  • Richard Spiegel, Nancy Shore, and Warren McIlvoy in 901KA, BC-3 and BC-1
  • Ed Hamilton & Mark Pascavis in N30357
  • Ed McMahan and Joe Stockwell in 2433B, BC-33 & BC-22
  • Dave Lester and Alex Rayes in 794SA, BC-88 and BC-no name
  • Glen & Judy Yoder in 31TC, BC-007
  • Lisa Nolan in 3514U
  • Walt Schultz in 9305W
  • Don Graninske in 9064V, BC-16
  • Harold DarcAngelo in 320HD, BC-32
  • John Rynearson in 3051R

What's Next?

The December Breakfast Club event will see us traveling west to Chiriaco Summit and the General Paton Museum. January will mark the beginning of the 12th year of Breakfast Club events. The January destination will be reveled when the "Calendar" is posted on the Breakfast Club web site. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Click on the Tombstone link to view photos of this fly-in event.