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Scott Chastain 08-13-2016 08:10 PM

America the Beautiful
Shortly after returning home last February from my third overseas mission trip through The Sending Place, this time in Ghana, Africa, I began praying for guidance; specifically, I prayed for guidance about where the Lord wanted to send me next.

I got the silent treatment for about a month.

Suddenly, I heard that He wanted to send me around America in my RV-8, Descending Dove, and to do so while Americans still had the freedom and opportunity to make the journey. Yes, I would be flying solo, but He promised to be with me through all of it.

I immediately began planning the trip and, since I'm a school teacher on a very tight budget, I finalized the route of flight according to the general areas of the country to which I was being led, along with the cheapest fuel I could find. The planned mission looked like this:

Questions that arose were simple: What would I eat? Where would I sleep? How would I get around once I was on the ground?

The answers were simple, too. For food, I packed over six #10 cans of dehydrated food items along with about 20 lbs. of jerky, dried fruits, nuts, and snack items. I packed a 3-man tent, an inflatable twin mattress from Costco, an REI hammock, and much of the backpacking gear I've used in the Sierra Nevada during my summer excursions there.

For transportation, I practiced in my hangar disassembling and reassembling my Specialized mountain bike. Removing the rear control stick, rear seat and harnesses, I had tons of room for it, including the wheels, provided the tires were deflated completely:

The journey began on June 26th in Merced, CA (KMCE) and ended there August 1st as planned. I will do my best to report the trip, but please keep in mind that of the 1100 photos I took, you will only be seeing a sample, just as I was able to sample the pulse only of a thin sliver of American life over a short 5-week time period.

I slept almost exclusively at airports, in so-called snooze rooms and FBO's, in hangars, and in two cases, in rented cars. I didn't spend a single penny on hotels. As for my tent, I pitched it only once during my witness across America. The Lord provided me a very clear path of safety and comfort throughout my journey, and there was never a question about His presence. I never felt lonely, and though solo, I knew I was never alone, and I am convinced now more than ever that His call for me to spend 10 years building Descending Dove was providential in the extreme.

What follows is a meager attempt to share my experience with others who care about the freedom we still have as Americans to build and fly our aircraft throughout the country and beyond. That freedom is an incomparable gift for which I've become even more thankful because of this trip. Of all the lessons I learned in that 5 weeks, none strikes such a chord as the sobering realization that most Americans have absolutely no idea what's coming. But come it will, and I am equally convinced that Americans will rise once again to the occasion to preserve and defend that freedom.

Freedom is just something we can't live without. And I never felt more alive in my life than I did in the 72+ flight hours I lived airborne across America.

May you, too, feel alive now more than ever. . .

Infidel 08-13-2016 08:31 PM

Nice write up Scooter and looking to seeing more. Beautiful -8 too!

SmilingJack 08-13-2016 08:32 PM

Wow Scott!

You and Vlad are making it hard to keep up! :D

Looking forward to more of the trip report....

Nice job!

Scott Chastain 08-13-2016 08:43 PM

26-28 June: Cottonwood & Sedona, AZ
My first leg of the journey took me to P52, Cottonwood, AZ. Nobody was on the field when I landed. However, as I walked toward the terminal building, two hang gliders landed, having wrapped up a day of soaring. We had a great conversation about their endeavors, and I picked up a lot of good information about Cottonwood and Sedona.

The terminal building would remain a refuge for three nights. T-storms on my planned flights to Moab, UT and Leadville, CO, and T-storms in the vicinity of Flagstaff, kept me.

I flew up to Sedona (KSEZ) on the 27th and assembled the mountain bike for the first time.

Riding down the hill from the airport, a local hiker gave me directions to Chicken Point, a "must see" according to him. Using the Broken Arrow Trail, I made my way up into the Sedona wilderness. I was not disappointed.

As I rode through the tourist-trap areas of Sedona, I experienced my first and only feeling of homesickness of the trip. As I began to pray for relief, I continued to ride my bike through the shopping district. I rode through a rear parking lot, not knowing at all where the Lord was taking me, through a long outdoor corridor, until I ended up at the front door of this place, Adonai Christian Fine Art Gallery:

The owner, Dick Snider, revealed that he is a retired West Point helicopter regimental commander and instructor. He now owns and runs the fine art gallery because of a calling he and his wife, Lora---whom he met and married while stationed in Korea---received several years ago. Dick and I prayed together after I shared my experiences and plans for the trip ahead. The homesickness vanished for good after that, and I knew the rest of the journey across America was going to be incredible.

Back at the airport, I disassembled the mountain bike, packed up, and flew back over to the Cottonwood refuge.

rjtjrt 08-13-2016 08:46 PM

Amazing country - looking forward to the reports of the great adventure.

Weasel 08-13-2016 08:59 PM

Thats an impressive trip!!! :)

Scott Chastain 08-13-2016 09:05 PM

29 June: Santa Fe, N.M. to Sonora, TX
On the morning of June 29, after two full days of mountain biking Sedona and Cottonwood, the thunderstorms were becoming even more violent in the Moab, UT and Leadville, CO areas. I elected to make a mad dash for Santa Fe, N.M., skirting a nasty cell to the north of me. At Santa Fe, I fueled up, then headed to Sonora, TX (KSOA). I spent one night there:

While I was in there cooking up a bowl of stew, I was greeted by a gracious RV-10 builder and pilot, Edward Earwood, who gave me the keys to his Jeep. I used the Jeep to explore historic downtown Sonora and the Caverns of Sonora---an amazing 2-hour spelunking tour that rivals---even surpasses in some cases---the beauty Carlsbad Caverns:

Reboot 08-13-2016 09:23 PM

Wow what a trip, I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Scott Chastain 08-13-2016 09:25 PM

30 June: Edingburg, TX
Early the next morning, I departed Sonora for the southern tip of Texas:

Landing at South Texas International (KEBG), I enjoyed the irony of being the only soul on the field . . . at an international airport:

The great folks at Edinburg tossed me a set of keys for a crew cab, and I drove into Edinburg for a delicious break from my camping food at a pilot-recommended Pappadeaux restaurant.

That night, I slept on a couch in the FBO after watching, with "free" admission from the parallel runway, a night of drag racing. According to the security guard on the field, the drag racing is a nearly nightly event at Edinburg.

Scott Chastain 08-13-2016 09:44 PM

Brownsville to Round Rock, TX
Departing Edinburg, I landed at Brownsville and took a few minutes to check weather and enjoy a cup of coffee in the FBO:

From there, I caught an incredible 30 kt tailwind all the way to the Austin, TX area where I landed at Taylor, T74:

There, I would meet up---for the only time during the trip---with friends that I knew: a retired colleague and her husband, who recently moved to Round Rock, TX, to be with family. I spent the better part of 3 days in the Round Rock area, to include attending church services on Sunday, the 3rd, and celebrating our nation's independence on July 4th:

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