The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn

The Knife & Fork


Breakfast Club Visits the Grand Canyon, Squires Inn



14 Jun 2003
by Warren McIlvoy

The June Breakfast Club event saw the group making an encore visit to the Grand Canyon.   Well, almost.  Actually, we went to Tusyan, the village that is about seven miles south of the Grand Canyon proper.  Tusyan is where the Grand Canyon Airport is located.  In any event, it was a trip to the north out of the oppressive valley heat and to some cooler climes. 

The weatherman promised us some great flying conditions on Saturday morning and we were not disappointed.  We departed Scottsdale towards the northwest into crystal clear skies and glass smooth conditions.  We leveled-off at 8500' and sat back to enjoy the scenery for our scheduled one hour and twenty minute trip to GCN.  I tuned-in our air-to-air frequency of 123.45 put out a call for any other Breakfast Club members but there was no activity on the line.  As I got closer to the point of entering the Verde Valley, I tried another call and this time I hit pay dirt.  About that time, I started to hear quite a few calls from other Breakfast Club members.  I reported-in again when I was just a tad to the east of the Cottonwood Airport and within eyesight of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area. 

Upon reaching the Rim area, we soon passed-over I-40 and we could plainly see the City of Williams and just to the north, the Williams Airport.  At about this point, which was just to the west of Sitgreaves Peak, I started picking-up large bug splatters on my wind screen.  I though that a bit strange as we were about 3000' about the surrounding terrain.  The dense forest suddenly yielded to high plateau country with little more than scrub vegetation.  Valle Airport came and went under our left wing and I started making a descent to 7400' for the Grand Canyon Airport pattern altitude.  The tower frequency was very busy with the morning arrivals with the controller having a little bit of difficulty in keeping track of who was who in the pattern.  I was instructed to extend my left downwind for runway 21 to make way for one of the tour company's twin Otters.  After a short roll-out, a left turn onto the adjoining taxi-way, had us heading towards the transient parking at the far north end of the ramp area.  There were only a few spaces left with more of our aircraft to arrive.  After securing our aircraft into the tie-down, my wife and I, along with our guest for the morning, Bill Burgess, greeted some of the early arrivals.  As parking spaces were becoming scarce, I started directing the late arrivals towards the few remaining parking slots that were available to us.  As the last of our aircraft arrived, one of the line people said that he could park in a space that was normally reserved for a larger aircraft as they were not scheduled to arrive until later in the afternoon.

By this time, the van from Grand Canyon Coaches had already taken one load to the Grand Canyon Squires Inn and had returned for the second wave.  It was just a five minute ride from the terminal to the Inn and the mid 70 degree temperatures almost made it tempting to just hike there but we did not want to hold-up the group that had already arrived.  The Squires Inn is one of the more upscale hotels that is outside the Park proper.  The lobby was very spacious and the check-in desk was more than respectable in size.  The dining area was also very accommodating but it also had a cozy feeling.  Most of us enjoyed the breakfast buffet while others ate off the menu.  The buffet had the usual breakfast entrees along with an ample selection of pastries and fruits.  It seems that the buffet is complementary if you are a hotel guest and the waitress though those of us who choose the buffet were guest of the hotel and told us that it was "free".  I told her that we deeply appreciated the jester, but we were not hotel guest and that we had flown-in just for the breakfast meal.

Towards the end of the meal time, I announced to the group that the IMAX Theater was just a two block hike to the north of the hotel and that some of us were walking down there when we were finished eating.  Some of the other folks were opting instead to depart and make a fly-over of the Grand Canyon. In all, about 10 of us opted for the movie.  I have seen the Movie about 4 or 5 times at the IMAX and though I am quite familiar with the presentation, you just can not beat the IMAX format.  Whereas some of our group opted to view the real thing, we saw places that you can not view from an aircraft considering the present day restrictions.  The IMAX presentation is about 25 minutes in length and even having seen it multiple times, the IMAX format still dispenses spine tingling visual illusions of extreme movement while sitting firmly in one's seat.  If you purchase either the VHS tape or the DVD, there is a "bonus" section that tells in detail, how the movie was filmed.

After watching the movie, our small group hiked back to the Inn with a couple of folks opting to hike back to the airport.  Paul Fortune (aka BC-201) had volunteered to clear the bugs from my windshield as my "maintenance kit" was back at SDL.  By the time that we had gotten back to the airport, the winds had picked-up just a tad to about 10 knots or so but pretty much right down the runway.  This was a welcome benefit as the density altitude was probably pushing between 9-10,000 feet.  Our climb-out on 21 was not overly aggressive but sufficient enough to get us well above the trees.  As the temperatures had risen to what could be expected for a summer time afternoon in Arizona, the ride home was "bumpy as usual".  

The Grand Canyon Gang

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy and Bill Burgess in 4544X, BC-1
  • Jon & Judy Miller in 7173A
  • Paul Fortune in 31870, BC-201
  • Richard Azimov and Jerry Siegel in 6864Q, BC-2
  • Allan & Patricia Wallace and Prior Magnason  in 9002V, BC-39
  • Roger & Joanna Pries in 13806
  • Dan Graminske in 9064V, BC-16
  • Harold DarcAngelo in 320HD, BC-32
  • Dan Tollman in 5975L
  • Nate D'Anna in 12VG
  • Whitney White in 3484X
  • Jerry Spendley in 95625
  • Pat Smith and Rich Brady and Ryan Brady  in 732HC
  • Larry Berger and Alan Lipak in 8086K
  • Garrett Dauphars in 1841H
  • Glen Saffell and Billie Saffell in 7077V

What's Next?

The July Breakfast Club event will see us heading northeast to Kayenta and the Holiday Inn.  This will be a new destination for the Breakfast Club but I had been there in the mid 90's when all they had was a "rock" runway that paralleled the highway.  The new airport is just to the north of the old location.  In August, we will be heading south to the border to Nogales and Angie's Café.  See you all next time but remember, fly safe.



Click on the Grand Canyon/Squires Inn link to view photos of this fly-in event.