The Knife & Fork

10 January 2009                                                                                                                                                                                        The Breakfast Club

Breakfast Club Visits Old Tonbstone/Longhorn Restaurant

by Warren McIlvoy

The January Breakfast Club event will kick-off our 16th year of monthly fly-in events. It would appear the mixing aviation and eating will never die so in that vane, we elected to visit a town whose motto is "the town too tough to die". Tombstone, Arizona was our target for this event so we aimed to make this 70-minute flight to inaugurate a new year of fly-ins.

Although the weather was clear, the temperature was a tad brisk but the air was smooth as well-aged bourbon. Our departure was to the east to GRINE intersection and then a turn to the southeast towards Arizona's historic "copper country" Our next waypoint was San Manuel and then direct to Tombstone (P29). Our "group flight following" frequency seemed to indicate that we would have a fair sized group for this event. I had contacted Tess Adams, my Tombstone contact person, regarding transportation from the airport into town. Tess said that she had been a bit "under the weather" but would make arrangements for the 4-mile trip into town.

Since the airport is unattended, the chatter on the CTAF told me that we would be using a left downwind approach to runway 24. Our visit of a couple of years ago reveled a runway that was in need of some serious rehab. The "paved" runway had deteriorated to the point that calling it "paved" would have been a real stretch. But this time, the runway had been replaced with some new paving and fresh markings. A "hats-off" to Tess and her husband (airport managers) for their hard work and perseverance in securing funds from ADOT and the Feds to make this possible.

The one thing that had not yet improved was the lack of paved ramp space. Tess told me that funding from ADOT had been approved to expand the ramp but the Legislature "swept" ADOT's funds and, therefore, the ramp improvements went down in flames. There is room on the ramp to park/tie-down about five aircraft. The rest had to be parked along the taxiway on the grass and dirt (Arizona "dirt"). There were makeshift tie-downs there that were sufficient for our needs for the day. Like I stated earlier, it was sunny but with the airport at more that 4700', it was a good 10-12 degrees cooler (colder) that in the Phoenix area. After getting the aircraft secured that were parked off-ramp, we headed to our transportation; "The Tombstone Trolley". The ride into town is about 4-miles and the trolley dropped us off right across the street from the Longhorn Restaurant.

As one would imagine, every building (many original structures) looked just like it would if you were watching a western movie right down to the wooden, covered sidewalks that line both sides of the street. And speaking of the street, several years ago, the town council decided to remove the paving on Allen Street and cover it with pee-gravel. The Longhorn is no exception to the rule, the interior decor is strictly western and Tess had given them a "heads-up" so they had arranged to have one long row of tables for our group. Steve Goldstein (owner and host) chatted with a number of our group. True to the Tombstone theme, Steve was adorned in the traditional garb right down to the boots. Our orders were delivered in short order so the "hangar flying" had to play second fiddle to some good ole fashioned chow eaten.

After our breakfast, the intent was to roam around town and then meet-up at the departure point of the trolley route. After checking with the trolley folks, it was determined that the time frame for the next tour departure and the time that we would be able to head back out to the airport, did not work all that well for our schedule. We did have some time to check-out some of the sites within a two-block area but not much else. At it turned out, for our $8.00 trolley fare, we also got the narrated trolley tour of Tombstone while on our way to the airport. That worked out quite well as we got to see all of the town as well as Boot Hill. The one downer was not being able to visit the Cochise County Court House which is worth the trip alone. The Court House constructed in the late 1800's is also a State Park (no camping but you can "hang" around if you want to try-out the gallows in the walled court yard).

After arriving back at the airport, the drill was to pull the off-ramp parked aircraft onto the taxiway and away from the next aircraft so they could fire-up without blowing the trailing aircraft away. Since the wind has shifted out of the east, it was just a case of taxing short of the runway, do your run-up, and depart with a left cross-wind departure. The air was still fairly smooth so the flight back was very enjoyable. Tombstone has always been a fly-in favorite and it allows one to relive a bit of rough and tumble history without getting your hands dirty.

The Tombstone Gang

What's Next ?

The February Breakfast Club event will see us visiting Globe and the Apache Gold Casino and, maybe, leaving some gold in the process. In March, we will be heading southeast to Safford where out last visit was in the early to mid 1990's. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Click on the Tombstone link for photos of this event.