November 13, 2020. Friday morning was a huge culminating day for us. Scott Ritchie had planned a 40-mile cross country for us from Yuma, Arizona to the Glamis Sand dunes in California. This preflight briefing had been the most involved with controlled airspace that we would be skirting along the route. Scott had also coordinated for a pair of marshalling pilots that acted as an in-flight way point. As each group of pilots arrived at the waypoint, the marshalling pilots in the air would point them in the right direction to avoid the airspace and terrain conflicts along the route. As we made our way to our landing area in the sand dunes, we gathered as a group to make a mass arrival. With 25 plus pilots in a gaggled formation we flew into an area of campers and motorhomes to the surprise and amazement of the gathered group of well over 150,000 people. Not all of us pilots were aware of the magnitude that the Veterans Day weekend had on the side by side, motocross community. They came out in mass to enjoy riding their dune buggies, rail cars, side by sides and motorcycles. Seeing the gathered collection of campers from the air is a sight that we won’t soon forget. It was an amazing sea of people.
Upon our arrival we were treated as conquering heroes and met with unbelievable hospitality by the local pilots and their families that had organized and secured the landing area for us.
Like the other cross-country flights, it would not have been an actual cross country unless a pilot landed out. We lost one pilot roughly two miles from the landing area, on the approach road to the sand dunes. It was a silly situation where his sweatshirt hood blocked his airbox and starved the motor. He had a great downwind landing and all the gear survived without a scratch. He was picked up by some local gentlemen and deposited at our campsite shortly after our arrival. Given the fact that we had experienced three motor out landings in as many cross-country flights, we were lucky that we didn’t have any injuries or damaged equipment from these events.