The Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn


The Knife & Fork



Breakfast Club Visits Kingman & Airport Cafe

11 Feb 2006
by Warren McIlvoy

It's almost hard to believe that it has been more than three years since the
Breakfast Club has visited Kingman. I had to go back in my story files to find the last entry for Kingman as being posted in November of 2002. We would not have even made this trip except that our February schedule listed Page but the restaurant at the Wahweap Lodge is not open during the month of February. So rather than cancel Page, our crack(ed) event committee suggested that we swap our March target for February's. Thus, Kingman got moved up one month.

Our somewhat direct course to Kingman from Deer Valley would take us just to the west of the Bradshaw Mountains, over the Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness Area, over the bustling metropolitan population centers of Yarnell, Peeples Valley, and Hillside. After I had gotten well away from the Deer Valley traffic, I checked-in on the
Breakfast Club "group flight following" frequency only to find that we were well behind the pack. Most folks were at 8500' but at this altitude, we had a 10-12 knot headwind. BC-3 opted to go low level at 4500' and do a little sight-seeing at the same time. He said that the wind was much less a factor at that altitude.

The copper mining town of Bagdad soon came into view. The large, open pit mine is located a mere half-mile west of the Bagdad Airport and the approach over the pit is a bit intimidating to some folks landing on runway 5. An alternate route to Kingman would be to fly towards Wickenburg and follow US93 through the valleys and over the metropolis of Wikieup and up through the valley just to the east of the Haulapai Mountains. This can easily be done at 6500'.

The winds at Kingman were out of the northeast at 10-15 knots and favored left traffic for runway 3. Besides the influx of
Breakfast Club traffic, there were a number of other aircraft practicing approaches to the crossing runway of 17/35. While on left downwind to 3, I was watching-out for a commuter propjet making a 5-10 mile straight-in to runway 3. After parking and securing our airplane, we made the short walk towards the gate to the terminal building. The brisk winds along with temperatures in the high 40's, made a warm jacket mandatory but still sent a chill through this warm blooded desert dweller.

The Kingman Airport Café is to your right as you enter the terminal building. As you enter the café, with the exception of some aviation related memorabilia on the walls, you could imagine being in any one of a 1,000 similar restaurants in anywhere USA. But the café had a warm, homey atmosphere that would remind you of a local eatery in a small town. When I called the restaurant earlier in the week, I told them that we might have somewhere around 20-25 folks in our fly-in. They had arranged a number to tables in a line in the middle of the modest dinning area. Every seat was filled and the last two arriving aircraft made use of some free standing tables next to the center row. The menu is not overly large but adequate for our purposes. I had ordered the chicken fried steak and eggs with hash brown potatoes. The portions were quite generous and very tasty. The prices were typical of a small town café thus making this a very desirable fly-in location. There was not a vacant table in the house and, as expected, slowed-down the service but overly so.

I found the following snippet of Kingman history:

Kingman Arizona was founded in 1882. Situated in the scenic Haulapai Valley between the Cerbat and Haulapai mountain ranges. It is known for its very modest beginnings as a simple railroad siding near Beale's Springs in the Middleton Section along the newly constructed route of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad.

Arizona can boast the longest stretch of Route 66 still in existence between Chicago and Los Angeles. Beginning just west of Ashfork and continuing from Seligman through Peach Springs, this stretch of the original road positions Kingman as the "Heart of Historic Route 66."

Kingman, like a lot of towns along old Route 66 owes its creation to the Santa Fe railroad more than to Route 66. Kingman was named after Lewis Kingman, the locating engineer for the railroad, the man responsible for selecting the location of the roadbed. Kingman was (and still is) a rail yard town, although fewer trains actually stop because they are diesels which do not require coal or water. The old water tanks, used to fill the tenders of steam engines, are still visible near the station which is still used by Amtrak

Kingman is a good place to refuel, eat, and perhaps sleep, depending on where you are in your journey. If you left Flagstaff early in the morning, and assuming you followed all of the old road to this point, it is probably late afternoon and a good time to stop. The next stretch of road is best traveled early when there is full sunlight.

This stretch of the old road parallels the Santa Fe RR tracks which wind through a striking high desert gorge as it descends to rejoin I-40. Look for "Oatman Rd" signs. You will cross under I-40 to stay on the old road.

I have also added this excerpt from my November 02 story:

The Kingman Airport would appear to be overwhelmingly large for and area that is so sparsely populated. But there is a multitude of history here that is not apparent to the naked eye. Following WWII, Kingman became the largest surplus aircraft storage area in the world. I have read stories written by folks that either lived or worked there during this era. They said that aircraft covered the ground for as far as the eye could see in all directions. The scrapping process reduced literally 100's of thousands of aircraft, some shipped there directly from the assembly lines of the manufacturers, to scarp aluminum. Precious few were spared and sold to individuals for pennies on the dollar. Many of those that were spared are now featured in air shows or are on display in museums. The "Aluminum Overcast", a B-17 owned by the EAA and based in Osh Gosh Wisconsin, is one such example that was sold for a mere $750.00. If it were only possible for the folks of that era to foresee 40 years into the future to witness the huge price tags that are placed of some of the surviving aircraft of that time. A million dollars for a P-51 Mustang is not unusual. Today, much of the real-estate is dedicated to "mothballing" a wide variety of airliners ranging from small, commuter propjets, to full-fledged wide-bodies from some of the major airlines. There is also a relic of the WWII era, a control tower that is still standing guard over the ghosts that haunt the "bone yard".

While we were finishing-up breakfast, the wind had gotten a little bit more enthusiastic but still favored runway 3. The weather forecast had predicted some exuberant early afternoon winds but they would make themselves evident a bit earlier in the northern part of the state. Since we would be flying in a southeasterly direction, we would not get any benefit from those winds. Some of us had planned on stopping at Wickenburg to refuel since it was considerably cheaper than at Deer Valley.

After our arrival in Wickenburg, we taxied up to the fuel island and shut-down. As we exited our airplane, we were met by Ken Calman and his son Jason. It has been several years since my last visit to Wickenburg and the previous operator had made some rather nice improvements to the small office and terminal building. In the back, there is a nice kitchen and lounge for the weary aviator and out front, there is some new furniture if you just want to sit and enjoy a nice cold one. The current operators, Trade Mark Group, are the same folks that operate  the fueling facilities at Buckeye Airport. They have been aggressive in keeping their fuel prices at a very attractive level as compared to those in the close-in Phoenix area.

The Kingman Gang

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 93MB, BC-1
  • Ken and Jason Calman in 5023J
  • Richard Spiegel, Nancy Shore, Dolly Petersen, and Sherry Tave in 901KA, BC-3
  • Tim Tower in 8830C
  • Al Feldner and Brian Brigerman in 33RX, BC-33
  • Larry Jensen in 14LJ, BC-65
  • Mike and Ryan Bartnett in 1794T
  • Walt Schultz in 9305W
  • John Rynerson in 3501M
  • Austin Goodwin in 4351X
  • Glen Yoder in 31TC, BC-007
  • Allen Wallace and Jim Nelson in 1628W, BC-39 and 310
  • Roger Whittier in 706CD, BC-122
  • Robert Mooers and Austin Erwin in 20519

What's Next?

In March, the Breakfast Club will fly to Page and visit the Wahweap Resort. This was our original February destination but due to the restaurant being closed, we moved Page back one month. In April, we will be going to an old favorite, Sedona. The restaurant may be closing during that time so this destination is a bit iffy at this time. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

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