Breakfast Club
An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn

The Knife & Fork

Breakfast Club Visits Sky Rider Cafe in Marana

11 Jul 2009
by Warren McIlvoy

It would seem rather ironic that no sooner had I finished the Marana (AVQ) story for the December newsletter, primarily due to my own procrastination, when we had a regular scheduled fly-in to the same location. The December fly-in to Marana was a back-up plan to the scheduled fly-in to Seligman. The weather for that particular Saturday, at least for the northern portion of the state, was for high winds and gusty conditions. Although Seligman was only about an hours travel time, it is no fun getting beat to death while getting there and returning home. On the other hand, the weather for the central and southern portions of the state, were much more conducive for a short trip to a place such as Marana.

After we were turned loose by the controllers in the Phoenix Class B airspace, the drill is to report in on our "group flight following" to see whowas heading to Marana. As usual, we were well back in the pack but not exactly the "tail-end-turtle". For the most part, it is a "beeline" heading from Firebird Lake to Marana but places Eloy directly in our sights. The problem there is that Eloy is a hub of sky-diving activity and flying over the airport is highly discouraged. Tangling with a sky-diver at 5500' would surly ruin the day for both parties involved. The normal practice is to divert to the east just shy of the Eloy Reservoir or stay to the west of I-17. This time, I chose the reservoir route.

Just to the north of Marana, Pinal County Airpark dominates the scenery with its abundant supply of mothballed aircraft. Evergreen Air has been a fixture there for many years and was rumored to be a front for the CIA but today, it is more well known for its testing of engine improvements and other modifications to existing airframes.

Due to the amount of breakfast traffic at Marana, it is prudent to approach the airport from the cement plant that is southeast of the airport and along I-10. From there, one can execute a 45-degree entry to left downwind for runway 12. Ramp parking on a busy Saturday morning is sometimes challenging and I found one of the few remaining spots well to the west of the restaurant. There were several aircraft that had to "manufacture" a parking spot just behind the fuel truck.

The Sky Rider Café is a very popular eatery for both the locals and the "$300 dollar ham & eggs" crowd. As a matter of fact, the entire airport exudes "general aviation". The vast majority of the resident aircraft represent the gamut of the GA fleet but they also house some aircraft that are a bit more exotic. Just to the north of the restaurant is a facility that appears to be working on the Lockhead Constellations or some versions of the military C-121's. On the far east side and in a somewhat remote portion of the airport, is the storage facility for the Beech Starships that have been removed from service. Although a good number of these unique aircraft have found homes at aviation museums around the country, I have no clue as to the fate of these benchmark airplanes.

As we entered the Sky Rider Café, it came as no surprise that it was crowded but we were able to lay claim to one of the last vacant tables. We were quite fortunate to keep the Breakfast Club group in close proximity to each other. The decor is strictly aviation as all of the photos and pictures on the walls are of airplanes and people that fly them. It would be hard to mistake the Sky Rider with your favorite Denny's. Another consistent thing about the Sky Rider is the good food and very reasonable prices. No wonder it is a favorite with the locals and flying groups.

On the return flight back to the valley, I climbed to 6500' in hope of finding smooth air and I was not disappointed, smooth as glass in both directions. Now there is a rarity for yah. I would appear that we made a good choice for the June fly-in, but then again, Marana is always a good fly-in destination.

The Marana Group

What's Next?

Our August Breakfast Club fly-in will be to one of the all time favorites of pilots around the entire state, Sedona, Arizona. Since this is a short flight (as most of our summer schedule is), we will plan on arriving by 0800 rather than our usual 0900. Our September fly-in will be to a most spectacular location that straddles the Utah and Arizona border, Monument Valley and Gouldings Resort. This will be a weekend event with an early Saturday morning arrival, a valley tour, an overnight stay, and a Sunday morning departure. This will be our fourth visit to Monument Valley but only our second overnight stay. Don't miss this one. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Click on the Marana Event to view photos of this event.