The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn



The Knife & Fork



Breakfast Club Drops-in on Marana/Sky Rider Café



11 Feb 2012

by Warren McIlvoy



The February Breakfast Club event saw us traveling back to our roots where the Breakfast Club held it’s first ever fly-in event some 18-years ago.  Marana, Arizona (in those days, it was called Avra Valley) is where it all started because of a conversation over lunch in Prescott in December of 1993.  Back in those days, most of us flew with Aero Mech Flying Club that was based out of Scottsdale.  Aero Mech was the premier training and flying club in the valley that started in the late 1970’s with 4 or 5 airplanes and a red box.  The infamous “red box” was their “airport office” that had the flight schedule taped to the top and various supplies for the aircraft inside.  Although the club did not hold monthly fly-ins as we do today, they did however, have events such as picnics, fly-ins, and some times, overnight events to interesting places. 


In the early 1990’s the operators of the club changed their focus to lure the foreign flight student into training in the states.  The “club” as we knew it changed dramatically with less and less social activities.  It was during lunch in Prescott on a warm December afternoon that the conversation turned to the demise of the social aspect of the flying club.  Someone suggested that a small group should schedule regular fly-in activities on a monthly basis even if it were for nothing more than a breakfast fly-in.  Out of that discussion, the Breakfast Club was formed with just a few members flying out of Scottsdale.


The weather for this fly-in event was just gorgeous although we did have to contend with a “VIP TFR” over central Phoenix that only went to 3000’ agl that meant that we could still use the Phoenix Transition routes over Sky Harbor Airport.  So after departing Deer Valley’s runway 7R, we headed directly to Squaw Peak and called Phoenix Approach for clearance via the corridor to Marana at 5500’.   We were promptly given our clearance via the “west corridor” at 4500’.   We were only about 3-miles south of Squaw Peak when we were cleared to 5000’ and instructed to change to the south controller.  As we came abeam Sky Harbor Airport, the controller cleared us to 5500’.  When I had reached South Mountain, I changed course to head directly to Marana and before we had gotten to Firebird Lake, the controller let us go our merry way.  For a Saturday, I was surprised at how little traffic Phoenix Tracon was handling; I guess that many were scared-off by the TFR.  


Just to the north of Casa Grande, I checked-in with the Breakfast Club gaggle to let them know that we were in route.  To the south of Casa Grande, I-10 breaks to the left but we stayed to the west of the Interstate to avoid the parachute jumpers that use Eloy for their sport.  After safely passing the Eloy area, I rejoined the I-10 route near Picacho Peak and started out decent into Marana.  About 15-miles to the north of Marana, I dialed-in the CTAF and as you might expect for a gorgeous Saturday, the traffic was pretty heavy.  The Rillito Cement Plant that is about 4-miles to the southeast of the airport, is a popular reporting point for reporting the 45* entry into left downwind for runway 12.  I was maybe number 4 on downwind when a call was made on the ground that there were 3 aircraft waiting to depart and asking if we could space it out a little for their departure.  I extended my downwind leg to almost 5-miles to the point that I could clearly see Pinal County Airpark.  Such a long down wind is certainly outside my comfort zone but it did allow all of those folks to get out of Marana. 


As I taxied to a point where you would head to the ramp, I noticed an aircraft coming the other way on the ramp and he radioed that there was no transient parking near the restaurant so we should park where the airport tenants park, which we did.  The walk is a bit longer but since the weather was so nice, no one cared.  After exiting the gate from the ramp area, the walk to the restaurant is painted and striped like a runway including runway numbers, nice touch.


Marana is truly a small airplane airport and as such, it attracts a huge Saturday “$300 hamburger” crowd and the Sky Rider Coffee Shop lures its share of the pilot population as well as many locals.  I had called to reserve space for about 30 Breakfast Club folks and we surly needed every one of them.  I did not spot an empty table or seat anywhere.  The Sky Rider Coffee Shop has always been known for its good “airport” food and reasonable prices.  I guess that is what makes this such a popular fly-in destination.   Although we were seated at several tables, we were able to share “war stories” with the folks at our table.  Following a pretty good “airplane breakfast” I walked around to some of the other tables to get some photos and chat with other Breakfast Club folks.  


After the required “pit stop” to alleviate the high water pressure warning light, we headed back out to the ramp which, by this time, had some vacant spaces right in front of the restaurant.  After departing runway 12 and turning towards the north, we climbed to 6500’ to enjoy a perfectly smooth ride and to chat with other Breakfast Club aircraft.  I called Phoenix Approach after passing Casa Grande and they gave us clearance to Deer Valley via the west corridor.  As I neared Firebird Lake, Approach asked us to slow-down to 120 kts for “slower traffic in front of us that was also going to DVT.  I maintained the slower pace until reaching South Mountain where I asked Approach if I could resume normal speed and they said AOK. 


Just an interesting side note to this trip was that my passenger Keith Jones had worked for the railroad out of Winslow, Arizona and he was very familiar with the railroad’s operations that were based in the La Posada Hotel there.  As most of us know, the La Posada was the grandest of the Santa Fe’s railroad hotels that was in there system.  It has been a “work-in-progress” but is now about 75% restored to its original condition and is a “must see” if you are in the area. 


The Marana Gang


  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy with Keith Jones in 93MB, BC-1 & 1.5
  • Don Graminske in 9064V, BC-16
  • Tim Yoder and Trent Heidtke in 52TY, BC-52 & BC-112
  • Doug Doehrman, Libby Vance, and Greg Coomans in 42930, BC-109 & BC-48
  • Rich Kupiec and Austin Erwin in 66693M, BC-47 & BC-86
  • Peter Ducan in 358JC
  • Mark and Bill Hess in 423DW
  • Richard Azimov and Zach Sands in 6864Q, BC-2
  • Jerry & Nancy Grout with Paul Kempton, Jim Gunnlaugson, and Brian Wilson in 1129T
  • Adam Rosenberg in 8377W, BC-72
  • Jim & Girt Little with Bill & Judy Burch in 9568C
  • Dewey & Sandy Harnagel with Keith & Margaret Monet in 2421Q


What’s Next?


The March Breakfast Club event will see us going to a place that we have not been to for a while; Globe, Arizona and the Apache Gold Resort & Casino and in April, we will be traveling to the southeast and Douglas, Arizona and the historic Gadsden Hotel.  That’s all for now but remember, fly safe.


To view photos of this fly-in event, just click on the link below.  


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