The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn


The Knife & Fork



Breakfast Club Visits Blythe, Union 76 Truck Stop



By Warren McIlvoy
11 January 03


It's not every day that an aviation organization drops-in on a location that is more well known for its capacity to cater to the cross-country highway traffic plying the Interstate system.  But if you have any inkling as to why otherwise sane people, would get into their personal aircraft and fly, sometimes 100's of miles for that elusive "$100 hamburger," then you would understand why we would visit such an unobtrusive spot such as the Union 76 Truck stop in Blythe, California.  It is hard to explain the allure of a truck stop to an aviation oriented group but just let a hungry pilot, or in our case, a hoard of hungry, intrepid aviators, get a whiff of frying bacon and eggs, and we will zero-in on it like a pack of hungry wolves chasing a meat truck.  Besides, as a Zen master might say, "It's the journey, not he destination, that's important."  And, we all have a common interest, flying and eating (which ever order that is important to you).

The flight would cover about 140 miles and take a little over an hour so I had arranged to meet the Paul Fortune (BC-201) who would be accompanying us today as his aircraft was still in the "airplane hospital".  The flying weather promised to be delightful but this Saturday followed a week of high dew points and every exposed surface had a healthy coating of dew.  I wiped-down the window several times but this was almost a useless gesture as the windows quickly regained a thin coating of moisture.  To make matters worse, the inside windows were every bit as wet as were the outside windows.  After pre-flighting the aircraft, we climbed into 76H and commenced the ritual of attempting to clear to fog from the inside windows as our body heat only made matters worse. 

The engine fired-up after only two blades and at least the air flow from the prop helped to keep the exterior of the window clear.  However, it did not help the inside much.  I opened the defroster vent but that is entirely dependent on airflow and at idle, the benefit was minuscule at best.  From the south end of the Kilo ramp, it was about a 1 mile taxi to runway 3.  I was constantly wiping the inside of the window to gain a modicum of forward visibility but when I turned into the sun, we were almost blind.  The view out the side window was enough to help us get orientated on the taxiway and I taxied as slow as I ever have to the run-up area.  The movement along the taxiway, all-be-it very slowly, began to mitigate the fog accumulation on the inside of the windows.  After the run-up, the forward visibility was sufficient enough to allow for a safe take-off environment.  Once into the air, the defoggers (as the English would say) did their job admirably and everything was right with the world once more as we turned west.

I dialed-up Luke Approach on the com but I did not expect to hear anything on the radio as Approach had not been working on the weekends.  So I was a bit surprised when I heard Approach respond to another aircraft that was nearing their airspace.  When I was over Deer Valley Airport at 4500', I called Luke to get our squawk code to traverse the Alert Area.  I could hear some other aircraft numbers that I had recognized as being part of our group but they were well ahead of me.  After completing the crossing of the Alert Area, I tuned-in our air-to-air frequency to report in.  It turned out that we were "tail end turtle" on this trip.  Where was BC-310 (Jim Nelson) when I needed him?  This position has traditionally belonged to him and I certainly did not want to infringe on a title that dutifully belongs to him.

The air was smooth as glass and clear of clouds but the visibility was only about 30 miles due to the haze on the horizons. Just after passing the desert metropolis of Quartzite, we began a slow descent for a straight-in approach to runway 26 at Blythe. By now, there was only one other BC aircraft in the air along with us and they were in the pattern of Blythe. After a "greaser" landing that caught the attention of my two passengers, I taxied all the way down to the approach end of runway 8 and parked well off the side of the taxiway that was already populated with Breakfast Club aircraft.

The Union 76 Truck Stop was a little over a 100 yard hike through the desert scrub.  To the west of the truck stop was a huge trucking terminal that was not here the last time that we visited this location in 1997.  And speaking of 97, that was the event that a staff writer Linda Helser of the Arizona Republic, joined us for that fly-in.  She took some pictures of us and on the front page of the state section of Monday's edition of the morning paper, was a story about the Breakfast Club.  About 2 weeks or so later, on a Friday morning, I got a long distance call at work from the CBS Morning Show and did a phone interview about our flying group and our activities.  The truck stop is typical of such venues, nothing fancy, just utilitarian.  One side of the building and where we entered, was a "Circle K" type convenience store that has about everything a cross-country trucker would need.  Like I said earlier, the restaurant is not fancy in any way but it serves the purpose and with its' proximity to the airport, make a unique fly-in location.  The floor space was about equally divided between free-standing tables and booths.  The food was good and in sufficient quantity to satisfy the hungry aviator (or truck driver).  Considering that we had about 29 folks show-up for breakfast, the service people handled the fly-in crowd admirably. 

After breakfast, some of the Breakfast Club folks were opting to fly-up the Colorado River to Parker where a static display of some vintage aircraft was being offered.  I choose to fly-up the River just about 8 miles or so to find some geoglyphs that I had heard about some years ago but I had not been able to find them.   At 2500', we flew northward from Blythe and stayed just a tad to the east of the river to afford a good view of the geography along the west side of the river.  When we reached the location where I understood them to be, we did not find them again.  I made a turn to the west to fly south along the west side of the river believing that they might be located nearer the higher terrain.  Just as we were about to give-up on our sightseeing venture, I spotted them.  They are about 200 yards up from the river and in the vicinity of the second of several "settlements" that dot the river bank.  As I recall, these are believed to be of Anasazi origin and date back to about the 12 th century.  They are quite large but their coloring almost blends-in with the surrounding landscape so it makes them challenging to find even though some of them appear to be at least 90' long.  Ron Kilber , one of our members, sent me this note regarding these figures

"It's not known if geoglyphs (intaglios) are 200 years old or two thousand.  These giant ground paintings depict geometric designs, human form and animal figures.  More than 200 geoglyphs have been discovered along the Colorado River from Nevada to the Gulf of California.  It's certain that many more remain to be discovered. "

Read a full outing report written by Ron at:

It was such a perfect day for flying that we did not really want to fly directly home so we opted to take a round-about course via Wickenburg and just north of the Luke Alert Area, and then over Lake Pleasant.  Visibility was still about 35 miles or so due to the moist haze on the distant horizons but it was still an amazing day of aviation activities.

The Blythe Gang


    • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy and Paul Fortune in 6076H, BC-1 & 201
    • Al & Adele Feldner in 6127Q, BC-33
    • Richard Spiegel, Julie Cramer, Duncan & Cathlene Gillies in 901KA, BC-3 & 3.5
    • Harold DarcAngelo in 320HD, BC-32
    • Don Graminske in 9064V, BC-16
    • Andy Elliott and Rita Locke in 48DE
    • Gary & Judy Hedges in 1196L, BC-99
    • Brett Beebe in 2285M
    • Cindy Browning, BC-008
    • Tim Yoder and Trent Heidtke in 52TY, BC-112
    • Joe & Diane Stockwell in 843CD
    • Glen & Judy Yoder in 31TC, BC-007
    • Cliff & Jayne Hudson in 7236A, BC-77
    • Asa & Cheryl Dean in 48803, BC-52
    • Jon & Judy Miller in 4179N  

What's Next?

Our calendar originally called for a short trip of Phoenix Regional Airport south of town on the 9th of February, but that has been changed to Wickenburg, Arizona and the Chicken Noodle Cafe.  We will be taking a short van ride into town for breakfast at one of the local eateries.  The March event will see us going southeast to the town of Tombstone, "The Town to Tough to Die" and the Top of the Hill Restaurant.  That all for now but remember, fly safe.


Click on the Blythe, CA link to view photos of this fly-in event.