10 December 2005

Choosing an Overnight Stop

Traveling in a private aircraft is wonderful until you can no longer use the aircraft. Once you land, you have several options. Having made this journey several times, I've learned which airports are most convenient for transient pilots.

Deming New Mexico is a great place to stop for several reasons. It's an uncontrolled airfield, meaning there is no operating control tower there. Helicopter pilots are rebels at heart.....most of us don't much like being told what to do. I'll take an uncontrolled airfield over one with a tower every time, all other things being equal.

Many airports are located some distance from the town they serve. This is great for noise abatement and keeping airplanes from running into people's homes. It's not so great if you land after dark when the airport administration has shut down and gone home for dinner. Sure, there is generally a pay phone handy, with important phone numbers listed there: Night fueling, Motels, and Airport manager.

It's nice to find an airport where you can land, shut the machine down, grab your bag, and walk across the street to a motel/restaurant.

I love to stop at Deming because the manager at the "Grand Hotel" caters to pilots. He's an Iranian transplant, and quite a businessman. Call from the airport anytime, day or night, and they will send a van to pick you up. The hotel is a converted Ramada Inn from years ago.........nothin' really special, but all we are looking for is a clean room, a bed, a shower, and a good place to eat within walking distance. The Grand has a good restaurant in the hotel. They serve a great Mexican dinner and a pretty good breakfast.

I was pleased to find that the owner, Mr. Khanbabian, has seen fit to install a Wifi system at the Grand. More and more, I'll be pickin' my layover choices by whether or not a fast internet connection is available.

The answer to my question about the ramp at the Deming airport:
I spot four Apache Attack helicopters and five OH-58 Kiowa Scout helicopters there.
They may have flown in from Fort Bliss, shut down, and called Mr. Khanbabian to get transportation for a great lunch!

Tomorrow we'll finish our trip to San Antonio.

1 comment:


Pilots must like Ramada Inn, because as a teen I Lived next to one in Kankakee, Ill. And, a few times a year, a helicopter would land in the parking lot, which was huge, and the crew would grab a room for the night. We got to know them and they eventially took us on a tour of the machine. Cool stuff for a kid.