The infamous Lenticulus Propelius cloud formation...
For the 19 DAFers (10 airplanes) that made the trip to Taos NM, the weekend offered some big challenges. The weekend started early for 15 of the DAFers with a stop in Sedona on Thursday night. The Sedona contingent was greeted on arrival with crosswinds varying from 15 to 40 or so knots. One crew made the wise choice and landed in Cottonwood (windy but more aligned with the runway) and drove the final miles in the "classic" airport car. The author was last to arrive at Sedona and did not get to witness any of the previous arrivals. The descriptions of landings continued to get more fantastic as Thursday evening progressed and this will likely continue at future happy hours.
Friday morning arrived with new and different weather challenges. For the Sedona group, the flight to Taos was split between IFR and VFR operations with all crews making the flight relatively uneventfully. For the crews that left Torrance on Friday, the task was much more challenging. One crew flew the mission VFR under the clouds following a somewhat circuitous routing and arrived successfully. Another crew stopped in Phoenix for lunch and to review their Cirrus flight manual to confirm that they were approved for known icing and thunderstorm penetration. Upon failing to find such approval, they wisely decided that Torrance was not a bad place to be.
All participants finally met up at happy hour on Friday at the Hotel and stories were exchanged. After a lengthy discussion of exactly what constitutes VMC (e.g. in what direction do you need to see 3 miles, and is the airspace really "controlled") the group separated into groups and ventured into town looking for dinner.
Activities resumed on Saturday morning with the drive to Los Alamos to visit the Bradbury Science Museum. A very few defectors skipped the Los Alamos trip, choosing to visit Taos Galleries instead (go figure). The fascinating Bradbury Museum describes the Manhattan project and provides historical perspective. Among other displays, there is a description of the computing technology that was in use of the time. Several DAFers were observed discussing the history of the early processors and their personal experiences with each of the IBM examples. The group escaped the museum before one of the DAFers found a sharpie to start correcting the display text.
With very vague instructions in hand (or not), the group found the lunch restaurant with minimal circling and had a nice lunch.
The drive back to Taos was uneventful with the exception of a brief lightning show, and Saturday evening was basically a repeat of Friday.
The weather on Sunday for the return trip was much improved, with reports of good visibility and the occasional tailwind. The organizers thank all that participated. There were a number of DAFers that signed up but decided not to make the trip due to the uncertain weather. That is never a bad decision, but you were missed and we look forward to seeing you on the next mission.