The Breakfast Club 
The Knife & Fork

Breakfast Club Visits Chiriaco Summit, Patton Museum

By Warren McIlvoy
9 Mar 2002

The March fly-out event, saw the Breakfast Club make an encore visit to Chiriaco Summit and the General Patton Museum. Unlike our event of February when we went to Palm Springs where the winds contributed to the excitement of the day, on this event, the air was absolutely rock solid. We also moved-up the arrival time to 0930 MST to allow for a departure time when the sun was up and you could pre-flight without having to use a flashlight. Besides my wife and I, we would be accompanied by Jim "BC-310" Nelson because, even though I had passed my physical exam the Monday prior to our event, I had forgotten a crucial piece of documentation that would preclude Doc Battersby from actually giving the that all important piece of paper.

After departing Scottsdales's runway 3, we turned towards the northwest until reaching 4000' to clear Deer Valley's airspace. I then turned on a more direct coarse to Blythe, our first waypoint. Upon reaching 6000', I called Luke Approach to let them know that we would be crossing their "Alert Area". I did not get any response because, I believe, that they do not come on duty until 0800 or so. With this being the case, I radioed our intentions of traversing to the west at this altitude until reaching the western edge of their area. In a few minutes, I heard two other calls to Luke Approach so I radioed back to them that Approach was not yet "on station". Upon clearing the Alert Area, I dialed-in our air-to-air frequency to discover if any other Breakfast Club aircraft was in the air at this time. I did get one response but as time went on, other Breakfast Club aircraft reported that they were on their way.

The one remarkable site that you will see along this route to Blythe, is the thriving metropolis of Quartzite, Arizona. In the winter time, it is one of the larger mobile home scenes of civilization west of Phoenix. In the summertime, it is little more than a wide spot on the Interstate Highway. In the vicinity of the Colorado River, the Arizona side is dominated by desert brown and small mountain ridges. On the California side is Blythe and the vast agricultural tracts that stretch for miles in all directions. Just as abruptly as the irrigated fields begin, they suddenly cease to exist where the irrigation terminates. As you cross this line traveling west, you discover that you are now over some of the most barren desert landscape outside the Sahara Desert. From the air, there is an amply supply of nothing save for an occasional ridge line. About 30 miles or so west of Blythe, you will notice the small desert community of Desert Center that is about 4 miles or so north of the Interstate highway. The name of Desert Center would tend to imply that it is in the middle of something. But since there is an overwhelming supply of nothing there, it would be difficult to determine just what it is that it is in the middle of.

From here, it is just a straight shot up the Interstate to L77. Chiriaco Summit is situated at the top of a hill (I guess that is why it is call a "summit") that is plainly visible from 15 miles out. Since the airport is unattended, you must rely on listening to the traffic in the pattern to determine the local conditions but, we did not hear a peep out of anyone. From about 10 miles out, I called a straight-in for runway 24. I called again at 5 miles and again at 3 miles out and finally a 1 mile final. There were no indications as to what the winds conditions were and no corrections were called for. It was only after crossing the runway threshold that we could see the windsock indicating that the winds were out of the east at about 10 knots. The runway was plenty long but I still managed to land well short of the runway mid point thus requiring us to keep the power up to continue to the west end of the runway where it narrows a bit to become the taxiway to the ramp area. The ramp was fairly well populated with aircraft but we did find a vacant spot on the north side and right at the beginning of the tie-down area. I radioed in the blind to let some the approaching Breakfast Club know that the winds were favoring runway 6 and also to let them know the altimeter setting. The only down side to landing on runway 6 is that there is no taxiway thus requiring a back-taxi to exit at the west end.

Before the majority of the Breakfast Club had arrived, many of the parked aircraft had begun to depart. It seems that another flying group from the Las Vegas area, had arrived earlier and had most of the place to themselves. So when the Breakfast Club group began to arrive in earnest, there was ample parking to go around. When it appeared that most all the Breakfast Club aircraft had arrived, we headed enmass to the café that is in actuality, a truck stop. Since I had called earlier in the week to alert these folks about our arrival, they arranged to have us all site together at one long table and two near by booths. The breakfast menu was ample enough to suit the majority of tastes and the food was quite good considering this is located in the middle of nowhere, but, I guess when you consider that this is a truck stop, the reputation for tasty food at truck stops, still rings true. After breakfast, some of us opted to walk over to the General Patton Museum to learn something about the Museum's name sake.

The museum is surrounded on three sides by various iterations of tanks of the World War II era. I had been to the museum a couple of years ago but I always manage to spot something different or at least my memory says it is different. The museum contains a multitude of memorabilia of the war time period with many mementoes that once belonged to the General. There is a 20 minute film that depicts the early military history of George Patton and later, the development of the training area that encompassed vast amounts of the desert in this area as well as west central Arizona. The film goes on to show his exploits first in Africa and then in the European Theater. I find it amazingly incredible that this person could survive two World Wars only to succumb to injuries sustained in an automobile accident 6 months after the war ended. After the museum visit, we made our mandatory "pit stops" and then returned to the airstrip for our return flight back to the valley. The trip back was every bit as smooth as the morning flight which is just a little bit unusual for an early afternoon flight.

The Chiriaco Summit Gang

George & Renie from Beatty, Nevada, and Susan Harper from Boulder City, were actually looking for the flying group that was there prior to our arrival. Since it would be a shame for them to come all this way and not do some "hanger flying" with their flying buddies, I suggested that they would be quite welcome to share some "flyin and lieing"  with the folks from the Breakfast  Club. Thanks to everyone else who helped to make this another very special Breakfast Club event.

What's Next?

Well, our scheduled April event to Grand Canyon Western has been changed due to some less than favorable reports from some folks who had been there. So for a last minute substitution, the event committee has penciled-in Chemehuevi Valley. Now, if you can pronounce it, you're better than I. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to call it "Chimmy Valley". We will be dinning at the Havasu Landing Resort & Casino. After breakfast, we may even take the boat ride over to Lake Havasu City and the English Village. Our May event is slated to take us to Big Bear City and the Barnstorm Café which should be a very welcome escape from the valley heat. The weekend of 24 May will see the Breakfast Club make the first of our "alternate" overnight trips to the inviting climes of San Diego. That should be a great trip. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Blythe, Cal