The Breakfast Club
An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn.


The Knife & Fork


Breakfast Club Visits Wilcox/Stout's Cider Mill


14 Apr 2007
by Warren McIlvoy

The April Breakfast Club event took us to a new destination called Wilcox, Arizona. Since few if any of our group had been there in the past, we did not know what to expect. The end result was an event that far exceeded my expectations in both the number of attendees and the friendliness and hospitality of the Wilcox folks.

Our flight began with a departure to the east for GRINE intersection just north of Saguaro Lake and then a turn to the southeast at 7500'. We cruised past the old copper mining towns of Superior, Kearny, Hayden, and Winkelman while giving position reports to other
Breakfast Club folks on our "group flight following" frequency. With Paul Fortune (a.k.a. BC-201) sitting right seat and acting as "safety pilot", I was planning on executing the GPS 21 approach to Cochise County Airport (P33) at Wilcox after reaching San Manuel. At a point about 30 miles north of San Manuel, we noticed a line of mountain ridges that would require a climb to over 8000' to safely clear them. Rather than make the climb to clear the ridge line, we opted to skirt the north end of the mountains at our 7500' and head directly to the initial approach fix (IAP).

Judging from the volume of traffic on the radio, it appeared that we were in the middle of the
Breakfast Club gaggle heading to Wilcox. After passing the IAP, we turned toward the first of two waypoints which was essentially a 10-mile straight-in approach to runway 21. There was just enough turbulence to make the approach a tad interesting and Paul "the task master" Fortune would not let me use the auto-pilot. Despite all of our efforts, I was able to fashion a reasonable landing and taxi to the ramp which was now teaming with Breakfast Club aircraft and members.

After securing the aircraft, we walked over to greet some of the
Breakfast Club folks and was soon directed to Tom Larimer. Tom was my Willcox contact who had arranged for a place to eat as well as organize the transportation into town. Tom introduced me to Dave Walters, Harry Myers, Pete Erickson, and town Manager, Mike Leighton. Harry, Pete, and Dave are local aviation enthusiasts.  I then met Louise Walden of Walden Aviation (520-384-2908 or email at:, a more hospitable FBO would be hard to find. After the last of the arrivals has been secured, we broke-up in groups to fit the various modes of transportation with one of the locals accompanying each vehicle to provide lies and tall tales as we wended our way through the historic portions of old Wilcox. One downer was that we ran out of locals for our vehicle so I had to drive that car. We just followed the lead vehicle and made-up our own tales of infamous gunslingers and bawdy women who once prowled the dusty streets of Wilcox. Another oddity that caught our attention was the ample supply of churches that occupied every street corner for blocks on end. It seemed that there was a church for every soul in the city.

At this point, I would like to include some history of Willcox gleaned from browsing a "Google" search.

"The City of Willcox was founded in 1877, at that time it was known as Mahley's Camp. In 1880 the Union Pacific Railroad built the Railroad Depot and when the first train stopped in the small camp General Orlando B. Wilcox was on board, those spectators recognizing the General began chanting "Wilcox! Wilcox! Wilcox!" A reporter from Tucson went back and reported in the Arizona Daily Star about the new railroad town known as Wilcox. In 1885 the town had a population of 500 residents. The City of Wilcox was incorporated in 1915.

Other Wilcox Facts

On July 06, 1900 Warren Earp was shot outside a saloon at the intersection of Maley Street and Railroad Avenue. He is buried in the Historic Willcox Cemetery.

When the City was incorporated in 1915 the spelling of Wilcox was changed from Wilcox with only one L to Willcox with two L's.

Singing Cowboy Rex Allen grew up in Wilcox. Rex was the last of the silver screen cowboys. But for many people, he is most familiar as the narrator of over one hundred Walt Disney TV shows and movies".

Still, a little more about Wilcox:

"Wilcox began as a small cow town and was once known as the "Cattle Capital" of the nation. Cattle are still an important aspect of the economy, and a large livestock auction is held annually in Wilcox.

Row crops such as cotton and small grains are significant as well. The diversification of agriculture has resulted in the establishment of apple orchards, pistachio and pecan groves, ostrich farms, grape vineyards and two hydroponics tomato green houses.

A well-established U-Pick-it industry provides fresh produce for all of Southern Arizona and Southwestern New Mexico. There are dozens of U-Pick farms in the Wilcox area. A variety of different fruits and vegetables can be harvested, and has become a tradition for many families to travel to Wilcox annually to pick their own fresh produce. Tourists, as well as traveling business people also have an important impact on the city's economy".

Still More:

"The first name for the present community of Wilcox was Maley, after Jame H. Mahley (b. 1850), who in 1882 was a resident of Dos Cabezas. Maley was so called because the railroad right-of-way went through Maley's Ranch. The legend concerning the change in the name is that when the first train came through, Gen. Orlando B. Wilcox (1823-1907) the commander of the Department of Arizona, was on board and received an ovation. Since its beginning as a railroad point, Willcox has been important as a cattle shipping center."

P.O. est September 13, 1880. Name changed to Wilcox Nov. 23, 1889.

Barnes, Will C.; Granger, Byrd (ed.) Arizona Place Names University of Arizona Press. 1960.
P. 57

The first named for this location was Maley, because the railroad right-of-way extended through James H. Maley's ranch. At the time, Mahley (b. 1850) was a resident of Dos Cabezas where he had moved in 1882. Simultaneously General Orlando B. Wilcox (1823-1907) was commander of the Military Department of Arizona (1877-1882), stationed at Fort Whipple. The town site for the future Wilcox was laid out in 1874 by M.W. Stewart. The first child born there was the son of Anthony Powers, and General Wilcox sent a silver cup with his initials on it in "consideration that the boy be named Wilcox Powers." Not only the boy received the name, but the name of Maley was changed to Wilcox in October 1880. An apocryphal story says that when the first train came through with General Wilcox aboard, he received an ovation. Just as General Wilcox appeared on the observation platform, railroad officials also aboard asked what the name of the new town was. A mighty shout from the crowd gave the answer: "Wilcox, Wilcox"!

This important agricultural and cattle center is close to Wilcox Playa, an enormous shallow dry lake which Antisell in 1854 called Playay de los Pimas, and by Mexicans, Playas (their term for a dry lake devoid of plant life). Sometimes it was mapped only as Dry Lake. Still, another name for the dry lake is Lake Cochise. It was also called Soda Lake or Alkali Flats. On the original map of the Gadsen Purchase, it is noted as Wilcox Dry Lake, a fact which may make all other stories about the origin of the name for the community simply apocryphal. The community name may be a borrowed name. When rain waters fill this lake, it looks as though it is fairly deep. During World War II U.S. Navy Pilots flying a large amphibious aircraft could not resist the temptation of landing on a lake in the middle of the desert. The plane grounded and sat there for months. The Wilcox Water Fowl Area consists of four hundred and forty acres which the Arizona Game and Fish Department acquired in 1969. About sixty acres are ponds. PO Est September 13, 1880, John F. Row PM; name changed to Wilcox, October 19, 1890; name changed to Wilcox, Nov 13, 1889.

Barnes, Will C.; Granger, Byrd (ed.) Arizona's names: X marks the place Falconer Pub. Co.: distributed by Treasure Chest Publications, c1983. P. 675-676

Our entourage eventually made it to the Best Western Plaza Inn for breakfast. Tom had arranged for the hotel to set us up in a separate room (we weren't that rowdy) with the table set in a large "U" shape. My wife and I sat near the local folks and we got our food orders in a relatively short period of time. The food was pretty good and in ample quantities but the further from our place in the "U" that you got, the longer it took to get your selection. I wonder if the hotel ever had such a large group of people at one time?

After a leisurely breakfast, we piled into our vehicles for the short ride to Stout's Cider Mill ( to sample and purchase some of their "Mile High Apple Pies".

"In 1985, Ron and Corinne Stout planted over 6,000 apple trees on their Bonita, Arizona farm. Their daughter, Robin, and her husband, Daniel Leksell, joined the venture in 1988. Stout's Cider Mill first opened its doors in May 1989, next to the Visitor's Center in Wilcox. Corinne and Robin, our first bakers, developed the Mill's recipes from traditional family favorites including their extremely popular sugar-free apple pies. Ron and Daniel cared for the farm, perfected the cider blends, delivered products throughout the state, and operated the store.

Today, we have over 10,000 apple trees representing 18 varieties, concentrating heavily on Granny Smith for our pies, with the Gala, Fuji, Jonathan, and Red Delicious varieties for cider blends. We've also added nearly a thousand apricot, peach, pear, and cherry trees for our delicious preserves. Now, Ron runs the business. Daniel is Mr. Fix-it--he keeps everything working while filling in as necessary, from baking pies, to pressing cider, to fixing the tractors, to selling pies on road trips, and a host of other activities. Corinne coordinates the purchasing and inventory of gift and novelty items"

I inquired about how big their "mile high" apple pie was and was told that it was 10-#'s. 10-#"s!!! You've got to be kidding me! Do you have any idea how much damage a 10-# apple pie could due to my blood sugar? Or how much sabotage that could do to my waistline? Our next option was a 5-pounder. We chose two of these, one for immediate consumption and one for the freezer. That way the dietary mayhem could be spread-out (not to mention the waistline) over a much longer time frame.

It was now time to load-up the vehicles and head back to the airport. Since av-gas was considerably cheaper than in the Phoenix area, most of us opted to have the Waldens' fuel-up our aircraft. I would bet that they pumped more gas this day than they had in the past two weeks-no beans on their table tonight.

On behalf of all the Breakfast Club folks, I would like to thank Tom Larimer for his invaluable assistance in making this a truly enjoyable and successful Breakfast Club fly-in. Without his help, this event would not have become reality. Add to the list, Mike, Dave, Harry, and Pete for adding a local flavor to our visit. And to the Waldens' for marshaling and promptly refueling our aircraft. The friendliness and the hospitality of all the Wilcox folks will make this destination a repeat event on the Breakfast Club itinerary list.

The Wilcox Gang

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy and Paul Fortune in 93MB, BC-1 and BC-201
  • Joe & Diane Stockwell in 587SR, BC-22
  • Ed McMahan and his wife in 2433B, BC-33
  • Richard Spiegal, Pete & Dolly Petersen, and Sam Foote in 901KA, BC-3
  • Austin Goodwin in 4351X, BC-317
  • Tom Roche
  • Glen & Judy Yoder in 31TC, BC007
  • John & Pat Rynearson in 3501S
  • Larry Berger in 7077V
  • Dan Tollman in 5975L
  • Harold DarcAngelo in 320HD, BC-32
  • Don Graminski in 9064V, BC-16
  • Allan & Patricia Wallace in 1628W, BC-39
  • Jerry & Nancy Grout and Neil & Brenda Peterman in 1129T
  • Al & Adele Feldner and Mark & Brenda Brown in 33RX
  • Dave & Jeanne Steiner
  • Richard & Marcea Azimov in 6864Q


What's Next?

The May Breakfast Club event will be the first of two fly-in/overnight events. We will be flying into Calexico, CA and dining at Rosa's Café. After breakfast, a smaller group will be continuing on to Catalina Island and staying two nights in Avalon at the Hotel Mac Rae. In June, we will be making a shorter trip to Prescott, AZ and dining at Susie's Skyway Restaurant. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

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