The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn

The Knife & Fork


The Breakfast Club Visits Tucson, Clarion Hotel



By Warren McIlvoy
14 Dec 2002

With the impending holidays quickly approaching, the Breakfast Club event committee felt that a moderately shot trip would be most appropriate for our December event.  In this case, a one hour flight down to the southeast over I-10, (or in our case, over) to Tucson would be just about right for the occasion. 

One of the fun things about flying south from Scottsdale is that, unless you wimp-out and fly under or around the Class B airspace, you get to work with the approach controllers in order to traverse that most consecrated of all airspaces, not withstanding the White House or other Presidential retreats.  Ordinarily, a call on 120.7 after the Scottsdale Tower cuts you loose, will get you a response from that secotor's guardian but today he was a little busy and I was informed that "all VFR traffic, standby ".  So, while waiting for that return call from the controller, we were holding at 3500' and doing "wiffer-dills"just north of Squaw Peak.  After doing some sightseeing for a short while, I heard him respond to another VFR aircraft but he did not respond to our initial call.  About this time, I felt that we had seen all of the north Phoenix area that we cared-to and I gave him a "wake-up" call.  This time, we were given our "squawk code" and clearance through the Class B via the "West Transition" at 3500'.

For those not familiar with the Phoenix Transition, the West Transition is a north/south corridor that runs from about the approach end of runway 8, and the 51 freeway.  As you approach South Mountain, a turn towards Firebird Lake will keep you in the good graces of the "corridor gods".  Somewhere between South Mountain and Firebird Lake, we were given an altitude clearance of "climb and maintain 5000".  We were about 10-15 miles north of Casa Grande before we were released from the clutches of the Class B controller and we ascended to our cruise altitude of 5500'.

I called-in on our "group flight following" frequency of 123.45 to see where some of the other Breakfast Club folks were.  From the responses that I heard, we were well back in the pack but not the "tail end turtle".  This portion of the state between Phoenix and Tucson, is best described as a "paradox".  Situated, essentially in the heart of the Great Sonoran Desert, there are vast areas of nothing more than desert scrub.  On the other hand, this is a vast agricultural area that is known World wide for its fine Pima Cotton.  A few years ago, I read somewhere that Maricopa County ranked fourth in the nation if cotton production per acre.  Another interesting little community is Eloy.  An agricultural community at heart, it is also the home of one of the most avid sky-diving enclaves on the face of the planet.  The Eloy airpost is surrounded by mobile home units with the inhabitants apparently living for nothing more than the thrill of sky-diving.  Just the past week, a new record for the Guinness Book of World Records was established for the most participants in a single diving event.  I believe that it was somewhere in the area of 350 (more of less) divers.

The next piece of the State's geography of note is the pass between Neuman Peak (elev 4508') on the east side of I-10 and Picacho Peak (elev 3370) on the west side of the freeway.  Picacho Peak was the site of the only Arizona battle of the Civil War and was the "westernmost" of any of the skirmishes between the warring factions.  Continuing along the Interstate, we soon come upon Pinal County Airpark (one time called Marana Airpark), often referred to as the "bone-yard".  The real-estate west of the main north/south runway, is literally littered with mothballed and obsolete airliners.  There is a facility on the field that uses some of the aircraft for test beds for new engine technology and other innovative ideas that may someday be incorporated into modern day aircraft.  They also will rehab an aircraft that has been purchased by an upstart airline or a foreign entity that wants one in flyable condition. 

The Rillito Cement Plant northwest of Tucson is the reporting point for Tucson Approach.  From there, they will "always" give you clearance to runway 11 left.  I do not recall how many times that I have landed at Tucson International with the clearance to 11 left but I have never actually landed on 11L.  I have always been shifted over to 11R.  Today was an historic event, the Tucson Tower actually did clear me to land on 11L, should have bought a lottery ticket that day. 

The rendezvous point for the Breakfast Club gang was the Executive Terminal and I had a front row parking spot well ahead of the rest of the group aircraft.  Since most had already arrived, we walked into the terminal to meet with the rest of the group.  The shuttle van had previously been summoned so it was a short wait for our ride to the Clarion Hotel.  The restaurant also served as the happy hour lounge though spacious, it was "comfy".  An interesting item of note regarding the food portions is that, in most cases, wherever the Breakfast Club has sat down for the morning repast, the pancakes were of such dimensions, that the average person could not possibly down more than two of these monsters.  The Clarion's idea of pancake dimensions were more saucer size and well within the abilities of anyone in our group.  All of the dishes were tasty though, just not overly abundant as they have been at other locations.

The trip back to the valley was, more or less, a reverse course of the morning arrival.  The air was still quite smooth (a little bonus feature of winter flying in the desert) and Phoenix was still using the west transition.  The only difference was that Scottsdale gave me a five mile straight-in to runway 3 which is not normally in use at that time of the day.  Another item worth mentioning about the trip was that, with having to traverse Class B airspace in the Phoenix area, and arriving and departing Class C airspace in the Tucson area, we spent more time talking to ATC than we did talking to each other while en route.  


The Tucson Group

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 4544X, BC-1
  • Trent Heidtke and Tim Yoder in 4638W, BC-112
  • Richard Spiegel and Dolly Petersen in 901KA, BC-3
  • Allen & Pat Wallace and Jim Nelson in 9002V, BC-39, and 310
  • Al & Adele Feldner in 6127Q, BC-33
  • Mike and Jerry Fadely
  • Gary & Judy Hedges in 1196L, BC-99
  • Jerry & Debbie Spendley in 95625, BC-182
  • Joe & Diane Stockwell in 843CD
  • Asa & Cheryl Dean in 48803, BC-52
  • Paul Fortune, BC-201
  • Richard Azimov and Gerald Siegel in 6864Q, BC-2


What's Next?
January 2003 will kick-off the 10th year of Breakfast Club events and for momentous occasion, we will be making and encore visit to Blythe, California and the Union 76 Truck Stop.  In February, we will be making a short hop over to Wickenburg and taking a van ride into town for breakfast.  That's all for now but remember, fly safe.


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