Destinations: Sedona, Arizona

Having posted last about a fairly lush and forested place to visit, we’ll now look to the south towards the desert of Arizona.

Name and type of Destination: Sedona, AZ

One of the more scenic places to fly into in the Southwest, Sedona offers a number of great attractions. Hiking, biking, golf… pretty much anything that you could imagine doing short of going on a boat can happen here. There are a number of spas and resorts if you’re looking for a relaxing weekend but you could also come for a guided nature tour or view some native art galleries.

It’s certainly worth the trip from long distances; but those who live in LA, Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, or Salt Lake will find it an easy day trip of 3 or 4 hours (at most).

Airport IDs: KSEZ

A little about it: The airport itself is up on a 500 foot tall mesa with much of the rest of the town down in the canyons below. Arriving near sunset will treat you to one of the most amazing views in the world as the red rock canyon walls pick up the light nicely. You can rent a car at the terminal or have a taxi come get you as town is only about 10 minutes away. Check out Seven Canyons for a great view while golfing and if you plan to make that a weekend focus, stay at Mii Amo spa just down the road from there. They only allow arrivals on Thursday and Sunday and have a minimum stay requirement, but it’s worth the scheduling trouble.

While Sedona isn’t unfriendly to families with small kids, it doesn’t have an assortment of amusement parks or anything like that. Nature hikes and tours are interesting for the younger crowd, but I have always envisioned this place as a getaway for couples. Your mileage may vary.

Precautions and notes: Sedona airport sits on the top of a 500 foot tall mesa. That may not sound terribly high, but wait until you’re on approach and looking at a huge cliff off the end of your runway. It’s just a psyche-out, so don’t let it get to you but you may want to make a low pass when you get there for your first landing ever (or take a flight instructor up for a shot at it if you live nearby). If the winds are up over about 15 knots then plan to land a little long (like 500 or 1,000 feet) as there will be up or down drafts off the end of the runway. Be particularly wary if the winds are out of the south and you’re landing on runway 21 – the drop off is steeper just prior to that runway and the downdrafts you experience would be stronger. As a general rule I’d recommend going elsewhere if the winds are close to 30 knots. That kind of weather doesn’t happen very often, fyi.

Airspace is pretty open with only a class D at Flagstaff to the north and another at Prescott to the West. Phoenix’s class B to the south is the closest big space but that’s about 70 miles away.

A few pictures:

Ramp space is usually available but it might be good to call ahead on holiday weekends.
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This last one is from the airport’s website and shows a glimpse of why this is such a great place to visit:
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Safe flying

John Fiscus

Chief Pilot, The Flight Academy

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