Flight: Spain: Aitona Peach Orchards

This flight was covered in the following AOPA post. Additional images, none of which are on the AOPA site, are below for this flight.

Este vuelo fue el sujeto de un post en AOPA (enlace arriba). Los siguientes imágenes son extra, que faltan en el sitio de AOPA.

Irrigation canal – this factors significantly in agriculture around Lleida.
Aitona (1 of 61)
Aitona (2 of 61) Aitona (3 of 61) Aitona (4 of 61) Aitona (5 of 61)

Mollerusa – note the haze. I get very supremacist when overflying cars in traffic. “I have an airplane…” is usually the subject of my snicker.
Aitona (6 of 61)

And the peach trees!
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Rail line. They use electric here for trains, though the Spanish rail network is nothing like Americans think of when they think of Europe. Northern European countries have a far more robust rail and tram system than here.
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My shadow….
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East of Aitona. This is a 6m/18ft tall pile of crates. I drove to it the next day and climbed them, along with a bunch of other people. Since its Spain, nobody cares. Germany….verboten! The USA…someone would have come out with a rifle…..
Aitona (22 of 61) Aitona (23 of 61) Aitona (24 of 61) Aitona (25 of 61) Aitona (26 of 61) Aitona (27 of 61) Aitona (28 of 61) Aitona (29 of 61) Aitona (30 of 61) Aitona (31 of 61) Aitona (32 of 61) Aitona (33 of 61) Aitona (34 of 61) Aitona (35 of 61) Aitona (36 of 61) Aitona (37 of 61) Aitona (38 of 61) Aitona (39 of 61) Aitona (40 of 61) Aitona (41 of 61) Aitona (42 of 61) Aitona (43 of 61) Aitona (44 of 61) Aitona (45 of 61) Aitona (46 of 61) Aitona (47 of 61) Aitona (48 of 61) Aitona (49 of 61) Aitona (50 of 61)

“Your blog has too many photos.” Yeah, and I took 3,100 images on this flight, so what should I do, hide them all on my hard drive? That and I get to put lots of push pins on the map (which I am procrastinating doing anyway).
Aitona (51 of 61) Aitona (52 of 61) Aitona (53 of 61)

North of Lleida airport – haze in great abundance. This is the beginning of the foothills.
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Vertical rock.
Aitona (57 of 61)

Riu Segre – not that I knew… I was wandering in the haze without looking at the map. There’s mountains north, flat south, home is northeast, and there were no airspace concerns, so I flew until I got to somewhere recognizable. Maps take the fun out of everything.
Aitona (58 of 61) Aitona (59 of 61) Aitona (60 of 61)

Cadí-Moixeró – no haze, of course. 
Aitona (61 of 61)

Flight: Spain: Catalonian Central Depression

Castellano abajo.

Finally, after months of angst and anguish, the weather cleared enough that I could take a flight down to the Catalonian Central Depression, an area of farmland that had eluded me since I came to Spain. Perpetually covered in haze, the place is substantially desert-like; yet, somehow managed to be fogged in for two straight months, producing some incredible imagery when I took a flight along the inversion to Montserrat a few months ago.

I learned my lesson from Wyoming: spring in semi-arid regions is the time to go flying. Vegetation has maximum texture, and the earth is on display as the seasons turn. While one season is prettier than another, it is not to say that one is not worth seeing. I have sat in front of my computer, time and time again, wishing I had flown to a certain destination in a different season, waxing poetically that it “must be fantastic when its green.”

This was a test run, to get a clue of what the spring around here would be like. As you can see, La Cerdanya was a wonderful shade of brown, while green did materialize down lower. This flight took place in March. Before one thinks the snow was over in the Pyrenees…..it snowed here until late April.

Finalmente, después que meses de angustia y dolor artística, el clima aclaró suficientemente para que estuvo posible volar sin inversión hasta la Depresión Central de Catalunya. Es lugar casi desierto, excepto fue cubierto en nieblas para meses, un fondo de frustración y raramente, un poco de belleza.

Aprendí en Wyoming, EUA que la primavera es estación muy importante para texturas y colores, porque los campos de agricultura cambian mucho en la progresión de verano. Es imposible decir que una temporada es inútil visitar en vez de otro (con la excepción de nieblas), pero es cierto que hay unos que son mejor que otros.

Este vuelo fue una prueba para averiguar lo que está pasando aquí en Catalunya, en preparación para las temporadas que vengan. Tardando con un montón de fotos, el vuelo pasó en Marzo, cuando La Cerdanya se mostró con falta de color. No te preocupes: recibimos nieve aquí hasta el fin de Abril!
Lower Cerdanya….clad in raiment brown.
CCD (1 of 32)

Lower Cerdanya is pretty gnarly with terrain. Most of the time, I am 2,500 feet higher than this. 
CCD (2 of 32)

I had intended to clear La Seu’s airspace and wander down the river valley below, except they smugly ignored me. Back up to 6,000 feet we go to overfly terrain…
CCD (3 of 32)

Spain: land of texture. There is no end to it.
CCD (4 of 32)

Pantà d’Oliana (reservoir below) with a giant piece of rock.
CCD (5 of 32)

Serra de Turp i Mora Condal-Valldaran
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Serra de la Valldan
CCD (7 of 32)

Getting lower, a bit hazier, and greener!
CCD (8 of 32) CCD (9 of 32)

Some things can only be explained with alcohol. / Algunas cosas sólo pueden ser explicado a causa del alcohol. 
CCD (10 of 32)

Northeast edge of the Catalonian Central Depression.
CCD (11 of 32) CCD (12 of 32)

Home on the range….Catalunya style. 
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CCD (15 of 32)

Chaotic order. There is a profound beauty to it.
CCD (16 of 32)

Non-chaotic order.
CCD (17 of 32) CCD (18 of 32)

Why live in farm country, when you can live here?
CCD (19 of 32)

This has a distinct Kansas feel. Just add a tornado.
CCD (20 of 32)

Near Selvanera.
CCD (21 of 32)

I failed to see the potential in these textures at the time. They annoyed me as too cluttered. Some of the flights I have gotten recently are practically spiritual of features like this.
CCD (22 of 32) CCD (23 of 32)

Wandering back toward home. Slightly higher terrain altitude. Note trees without leaves and field textures losing green.
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Edge of the Pre-Pyrenees. Catalunya has more forests than I gave it credit for.
CCD (27 of 32)

Serres de Busa-els Bastets-Lord (hill on the right), Pantà de la Llosa del Cavall (reservoir). Colors are real.
CCD (28 of 32) CCD (29 of 32)

Serra del Verd (on the right).
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El Pedraforca. 
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South side Cadí-Moixeró.
CCD (32 of 32)

Book: Flying Jackson Hole

Español abajo.

Book number 10 has been published, finally: Flying Jackson Hole. The title is self-evident- a compendium of images over and around Jackson Hole, with a special emphasis of looking down from high mountains and perspectives of areas that most are too lazy to hike to on the ground.

“But wait, didn’t I see something on Facebook about this, or your AOPA blog?” Yes, you did. I really am terrible at self-promotion and procrastinate. “AOPA blog? What is this about?” Yes, I have that too, and I am not the greatest about cross-posting. I half wonder if I like having siloed audiences so I can play mind games with myself. At any rate, I do write for a few magazines, and link to my anthology on my website. Click here to see it.

The book publishing process took a full year hiccup as I secured a literary agent in New York and spent an absurd amount of time as my work was paraded in front of some of the largest international publishing houses in the world. Time after time, I saw emails from acquisitions editors brought to the brink of orgasm by my work, followed by an inexplicable rationale for declining publication. After going through the process, I have come to find that the traditional publishing world resembles the fashion industry, operating by trend, fad, hazy group consensus, and just plain chance. Some day, I’ll win the poker match and a fancier book will be born. Until then, CreateSpace seems to have upped the quality of their printing presses, so full steam ahead.

Publication of my Wyoming-based activity will be picking up speed. At some point, I’ll make up my mind about an orderly flow of European titles (there is a concern over language choice, among other things). Needless to say, I am getting extremely backlogged, and the creativity is only taking off. Stay tuned as I get involved with more ambitious ideas.

Voy a decir primeramente que la versión española específicamente no será una traducción de lo que escribí en inglés. No estoy interesado en escribir la misma cosa dos veces, y también, estoy comunicando con dos grupos distintos.

Finalmente, publiqué mi libro número 10, en inglés (disculpe): Flying Jackson Hole (Volando Jackson Hole). El sujeto es un lugar en Wyoming, EUA muy famoso de esquiar y los parques nacionales Grand Teton y Yellowstone. Esta área es imprescindible, precioso, y casi lo más caro en todo el país, una Cerdanya de América, excepto con precio de triple.

He dejado el proceso de publicación por obtener un agente literario en Nueva York, que duró un año de trabajo fuerte comunicando con empresas internacionales, logrando a ellos al borde de orgasmo, solo para finalizar con una falta de contrato para razones que no hacen sentido. Por eso, sigo publicando con CreateSpace una lista larga de libros concentrado en el sector oeste de los Estados Unidos. Un día, decidiría mis planes en cuanto al montón de fotos que tengo aquí en Europa.


Flight: Spain: 2 of 2 – Length of the Pyrenees

For the flight back, I wasn’t precisely sure which route I would take. My focus had been the Pre-Pyrenees as the air was clear and the region quite interesting. At minimum, I planned on overflying some of the rough terrain just west of Pico Aneto, the highest point in the Pyrenees, and also where I had previously been. The sections even further west than that looked a bit scary from the maps, and I hadn’t made my mind up. Recall that the Western Pyrenees get slammed with significantly more snow than Central and Eastern parts, and therefore have glaciers and more rugged terrain.

After consulting with local glider pilots at Santa Cilia, I determined it would be a good day to head north right into the heart of the rugged terrain, then head east long some of the crazy stuff. As they noted “this is about as perfect as it gets for weather.” Fair enough. With some trepidation, I climbed north toward high terrain, wondering what I was getting myself into.

The closer I got to the big, bad mountains, the more nervous I got, as I looked at thick pine forests with few emergency landing locations, set against spires of rock covered in snow with indications of avalanches. Then once I got over said harsh avalanching terrain, I hit my Zen-style calmness where I am in a transcendental state of spiritual bliss, and continued over some of the harshest terrain I have yet seen in the Pyrenees, not rendering a shred of care if I had to land in 10 feet of snow in an emergency.

Every moment of it was wonderful, until the last quarter of the flight, where I was freezing cold, tired, and worn out after having taken almost 5,000 photographs. After landing, I couldn’t seem to function speaking Spanish, and went home with a brain that turned to mush. The last time such a thing occurred was in high altitude, wickedly cold Colorado, doing something similar in the Cub.

Some people do sweat lodges; I do the opposite.

For all I know, they stopped construction in 2008 when the economy crashed. Its not like anybody would care….except the Germans.
Pyrenees Binge (1 of 31)

Approaching the Western Pyrenees.
Pyrenees Binge (2 of 31)

Western end of the Pyrenees.
Pyrenees Binge (3 of 31)

Parque Natural Valles Occidentales
Pyrenees Binge (4 of 31) Pyrenees Binge (5 of 31)

Between Canfranc and Biescas – cruising altitude only 9,000 feet.
Pyrenees Binge (6 of 31)
Pyrenees Binge (7 of 31) Pyrenees Binge (8 of 31) Pyrenees Binge (9 of 31) Pyrenees Binge (10 of 31)

West of Río Ara
Pyrenees Binge (11 of 31)

Pyrenees Binge (12 of 31) Pyrenees Binge (13 of 31)

Parque Nacional Monte Perdido – for any aviation Nazis, I was, in fact, legally above the restricted flying zone.
Pyrenees Binge (14 of 31) Pyrenees Binge (15 of 31)

The pinnacle to the middle right with a bit of snow on it was featured on the last blog post. I cruised very close to those smaller hills down below.
Pyrenees Binge (16 of 31)

Valle de Pineta. Pretty badass. The French border is at the end of the valley.
Pyrenees Binge (17 of 31)

Somewhere in the Pyrenees….
Pyrenees Binge (18 of 31)

Somewhere else in the Pyrenees….
Pyrenees Binge (19 of 31)

Pico Espadas (3.332m / 10,928 ft)
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Parque Natural Posets-Maladeta
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Pico Aneto – highest point in the Pyrenees – (3.404m / 11,165 ft). It is quite chilly up here. There is also a glacier on the left side of the mountain, hiding under winter snowpack.
Pyrenees Binge (23 of 31)

Saharan dust on mountain snowpack.
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Pyrenees Binge (25 of 31)

Parc Nacional d’Aigüestortes – Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Aragón anymore….
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Pyrenees Binge (27 of 31)
Pyrenees Binge (28 of 31)

Other side of Aigüestortes. Usually power lines are not that compelling, though the perspective is pretty interesting.
Pyrenees Binge (29 of 31)

Western end of Cadí-Moixeró, almost home.
Pyrenees Binge (30 of 31)

Last bit of the Pyrenees descending toward La Cerdanya.
Pyrenees Binge (31 of 31) [Read more…]

Flight: Spain: 1 of 2 – Length of the Pyrenees

Although this was one day of flying, I decided to break up the outbound and returning leg of the flight into two blog posts, as I ended up taking almost 5000 photographs, and there is just too much to show. That is a record for one flight. While I don’t per se keep track, I definitely smashed the crap out of any prior flying day by a wide margin with the image count.

The way out is straight west, flying the length of the Pre-Pyrenees. The next post will be the same leg coming back, except over the spine of the Pyrenees – nearly the entire length of the mountain chain.

The Pre-Pyrenees are interesting in that they are not exactly foothills, as the terrain can exceed timberline, yet the rock features are immensely varied, with all sorts of interesting things going on. The Pyrenees themselves are as one would expect: big ass mountains.

The terrain contained things that reminded me of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Appalachia, New York, farm country, hill country, scrub brush, snow, thick pines, and everything in between. I was like a kid in a candy store and my arm literally got tired holding the camera and my hand fatigued from pressing the shutter button. With 548GB of camera cards and 11TB of hard drive space, I am awaiting the arrival of my new computer, as the current one is ready to start on fire when I start retouching photos. Too many pictures….

Map of flight out and back. Outbound leg (this blog post) is bottom half of the white line. Yellow line is border of Spain and France (France north, Spain south for the geographically ignorant).

Inversion – though it will not be affecting this flight!

Pre Pyrenees (1 of 38)

Serra de Boumort
Pre Pyrenees (2 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (3 of 38)

Pre Pyrenees (4 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (5 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (6 of 38)

Embassament de Sant Antoni
Pre Pyrenees (7 of 38)

Vall Alta de Serradell-Terreta-Serra de Sant GervàsPre Pyrenees (8 of 38)

Muntanya d’Adons
Pre Pyrenees (9 of 38)

Vertical rock is a very nice thing to see in an airplane.
Pre Pyrenees (10 of 38)

More or less the border of Aragón and Catalunya. Més o menys la frontera de Catalunya i Aragón. Hey, imagine that….Catalan! Más o menos la frontera de Cataluña y Aragón. Spanish too!
Pre Pyrenees (11 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (12 of 38)

Unnamed terrain. Closest village is El Sas.
Pre Pyrenees (13 of 38)

Apparently terrain like this is so common, it has no name. Closest village complexes all end in Serradúy….
Pre Pyrenees (14 of 38)

Highway HU-V-9601.
Pre Pyrenees (15 of 38)

Pre Pyrenees (16 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (17 of 38)

Collado de el Santo. 
Pre Pyrenees (18 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (19 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (20 of 38)

Peña Montañesa
Pre Pyrenees (21 of 38)

More vertical rock!
Pre Pyrenees (22 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (23 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (24 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (25 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (26 of 38)

It is getting exhausting figuring out the names for these things (that, and in an Aragonese symbol of not giving a crap, the hills stop having a name on Google Maps). These are between the last named mountain and Jaca.
Pre Pyrenees (27 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (28 of 38)

There are three churches at timberline on this hill, all duly named after some long dead saintly figures, yet nobody can bother to name the mountain itself? 
Pre Pyrenees (29 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (30 of 38)

East of Sabiñanigo, looking east toward where I came.
Pre Pyrenees (31 of 38)

West of Sabiñanigo, looking toward Santa Cilia airport.
Pre Pyrenees (32 of 38)

There is a terrain feature like this in southwest Virginia, deep in hillbilly Appalachian coal country. I really don’t know what to say as the comparison is unmistakable yet I have no desire to defile Spain with the Confederacy….
Pre Pyrenees (33 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (34 of 38) Pre Pyrenees (35 of 38)

What the hell is this? 
Pre Pyrenees (36 of 38)

Pre Pyrenees (37 of 38)

West of Jaca, just before the airport.
Pre Pyrenees (38 of 38)

I heard some strange noises coming from behind the fueling station at the airport. I walked back to find out that chickens live there. If one wishes to understand why Mexico and all of Latin America is the way it is, may I suggest non-Catalonian Spain as an explanation?
Chickens - 1 (1)