Breakfast Club

An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn




The Knife & Fork




Breakfast Club Visits Flagstaff/Dines at Little America Hotel



16 Oct 2010

by Warren McIlvoy



You could tell that Fall was in the air as the cool early morning air had just enough of a bite that pretty much told you that the shorts that you work all summer long, are no longer a wise choice and a light jacket was needed to cover your bare arms.  It was now officially the time to celebrate the onset of the great flying weather that we worked so hard for all summer long.  To kick-off this great season for flying, the Breakfast Club elected to head north a bit and savor the fall colors of the “high country” by visiting one of the tourist Mecca’s of northern Arizona, that being Flagstaff. 


Flagstaff is a summer time favorite destination of the desert dwellers who head to the high country most every weekend to escape the “wall melting” temperatures of the southern deserts.  Flagstaff is just an all-around great place to be as it is the skiing hub in the northern part of the state in the winter and the relief spot in the summer.  Although the Breakfast Club has traveled to Flagstaff in the past, we confined our travels to the airport and utilized the small café that is located in the terminal building.  This time out, we wanted to treat ourselves to really first class facility to get a sampling of what the out-of-town visitors get to enjoy.  The Little America Hotel fits that description very nicely.  As I have noted in the past, this is one of the nicest places that I have never stayed at.


The trip up from the valley is only about 45-minutes but offers one a chance of view the sudden changes in the Arizona climate that starts-out with the typical desert terrain in the southern part of the state, then it changes to plateau, and then to wide valleys, and then to the mountain country of the Mogollon Rim.  At this time of the year, the colors of the high country are just beginning to make themselves known and they only get better as the season progresses.  While we were still over the plateaus just north of the metropolitan Phoenix area, I called on our “group flight following” frequency to check-in to see who else would be joining in the activities for the day.  It seems that there was a small group about 20-miles ahead of the group that I would soon be joining.  As we were about 40 miles south of Flagstaff, the first of our gaggle started calling the Flagstaff tower.  Along about the time that I crossed over Sedona, the second wave of our group started checking-in with the tower and the tower responded with a warning that he did not have radar coverage and that “we should all be careful out there”.   I sorta chuckled a bit as a biz jet was approaching from the south and being add to the fray but had not yet contacted the tower.  The tower informed me that I had traffic to my right and to keep an eye peeled for him.  I could make-out an aircraft that was about a mile at my 3-O’clock but I could not discern the type. 


At about 3-miles south of the airport, I determined that the aircraft to my right was a Bonanza and I informed the tower that I would follow him in.  The tower acknowledged my call and was giving us all “high-fives” as we formed somewhat of a conga line and maintained good spacing to the landing without anyone having to do a go-a-round.  The tower again acknowledged the timing and arrivals much like a Pop Warner coach would give his young players words of encouragement. 


Parking was at Wiseman’s but just a tab bit to the north of their main ramp area.  The Wiseman line folks took great care in marshalling-in the arriving aircraft.  After all of the Breakfast Club aircraft had arrived, we crossed the ramp and entered the Wiseman facility to await the vans that the Little America Hotel was sending to haul our group to the hotel.  Although I had arranged for the vans to be there by 0900, they had not yet arrived by 0930.  I called the hotel to confirm that they were still coming but the main desk did not have any knowledge regarding our arrival.  They informed me that they would dispatch the vans but that it might be about 15-minutes before they would arrive.


In due time, the larger of the two vans arrived and was quickly loaded.  As it was about to depart, the second van was pulling into the Wiseman parking lot.  The balance of our group was able to squeeze into the van for the short trip to the hotel.  As we approached the I-40 turn-off to head east, our driver continued straight ahead and informed me that the exit at Butler Avenue was temporarily closed and that we would have to drive through the city until we reconnected with Butler Ave.  The detour added about 10-minutes to the trip but gave us an opportunity to see a bit more of Flagstaff that I had not seen in quite some time.


In due time, our van dropped us off at the front entry and upon entering the lobby, you are greeted by the ambiance of a plush and cozy area dominated by a large wood burning fireplace.  There was no fire today but I have been there on other occasions where the warmth of the fire was sure inviting.  The restaurant is down the hallway to your right and upon entering it, I thought that the rest of our group would already have been seated.  To my surprise, I did not find anyone that I recognized and wondered where they had been stashed.  There is another seating area to your right as you enter the restaurant but there was no one there.  The hostess directed us to that 2nd seating area and as we were be seated, the first wave of our group finally appeared.  Their van driver must have taken a much more scenic route to the hotel. 


We were seated next to the large windows that overlooked more of the hotel property and the adjoining forested area.  To the right and maybe about 100-yards away, it appeared that the hotel was setting-up an area for a wedding in the woods.  What a gorgeous setting for a wedding.  As you might expect from a hotel of this stature, the menu was quite varied and the prices were only slightly higher than most of the venues that we have visited.  To make things simple, the waiter suggested that we might consider the buffet table that was in the other dinning area.  I have not eaten from their buffet in the past but I have “surveyed” it and I can truly say that it is very inviting.  They will also make a custom omelet for you to enjoy with the other trappings of the buffet. 


After a very fulfilling breakfast and getting some photos of our group, I had the front desk summon our vans for the trip back to the airport.  We were able to enter I-40 directly from Butler Avenue as it was only the exit ramp that was affected by the maintenance work.  There appeared to be some threatening weather forming around the San Francisco Peaks but, for now, would have no effect for our return flight. 


The Little America Hotel is an outstanding venue and someday I would like spend a day or two just relaxing and taking in the warmth of the place.  I believe that a weekend in August might be an opportune time for such an experience.


The Flagstaff Gang


  • Warren& Jeri-Ann McIlvoy in 93MB, BC-1 & 1.5
  • Paul Fortune in 31870, BC-201
  • Austin Erwin and Rich Kupiec in 428DW, BC-86 and 47
  • Joe Tripodi in 747TM
  • Jon Shawl in 825GB
  • Greg Coomans, Jon Slaughter, and Matt Tsiouris in 2993Q, BC-48
  • Ken Elias in 57TF
  • Ken Calman in 3293Y (Blue Yonder), BC-6
  • Glen Yoder, BC-007
  • Larry Jensen in 14LJ, BC-65
  • Austin Goodwin and Tom Roche in 4351X, BC-317 & 31



What’s Next?


The November Breakfast Club event will see us heading south to an old favorite Tucson, Ryan and Todd’s Café.  In December, we will be “going west” to Chiriaco Summit with breakfast at the adjoining truck stop and a visit to the General Patton Museum.  That is all for now but remember, fly safe.


To view the photos or this fly-in event, just click on the Flagstaff link