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Blue Water Resort & Casino, Parker, AZ

An Indian Hills Airpark Great Breakfast Flight Outing

By Ron Kilber

Sunday, September 17, 2000

"Rack out, Ron, we're going to breakfast!", is a voice on the other end of my telephone in the wee hours of the morning.

I'm not entirely awake yet, but after a moment I realize it's next-door neighbor Jim "Stearman" Holmberg. He's joining several others today for a breakfast flight to the Blue Water Resort & Casino, Parker, AZ. The casino is right on the Colorado River Strip, made famous by topless co-eds during spring break. My Cessna 150 is broke (see "Bouse" for details), so not wanting me to miss extra fun in life, Holmberg invites me along in his borrowed Cessna 150. Such a guy!

As we taxi to the run-up area of Runway 22, I notice that Bill "Earthstar Gull" Goodman, who is at the controls of his Honda-powered experimental airplane, is already airborne, eagerly climbing to clear the small mountains just west of the airpark.

Within a minute, we're airborne, too, only not climbing so eagerly. We're still having furnace-like weather in Arizona, so the density altitude today lets us climb only about one-hundred feet per minute, if that at times. It's expected, considering our fuel tanks are near-full and Holmberg tips the bathroom scale a tad higher than my 160 pounds.

Neal "C-150" Fivecoat departs next, and as we gain on the much slower Gull, so does Neal.

Our forty-eight-mile journey is uneventful, but the Arizona scenery is spectacular. These parts of the Southwest simply are not immune from mountains, which are on every direction on the compass. The air is calm, and the outside temperature at 3,000 feet ASL (above sea level) is 75 degrees and rising.

We're first to land in a good cross wind at the Parker Airport.

Next is Jim Rauber flying his straight-tail Cessna 182, together with his wife Debbie and daughter Jaimie. Apparently, they must've been last off the airpark.

Fivecoat comes in next, and, surprising to us, right on his tail is Goodman's Gull, which is a much slower airplane. Either Goodman had a better tail wind or the rest of us had headwinds.

After everyone assembles, we head for the FBO office a little after 8 a.m. to catch a ride in the courtesy car to the casino. Only problem, the FBO, which is owned by the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), is closed.

Well, it is the day after Saturday, so maybe the employee who is suppose to be here was out late last night. We wait.

While we pass the time, I decide to call the Blue Water Resort & Casino. Its receptionist tells me she will dispatch a van "post haste" to come and get us.

When it's twenty past eight, the FBO employee finally shows up. He's apologetic, though not admitting anything about last night, and promptly shuttles us to the casino a mile or two away on the banks of the Colorado River.

On the way, another van from the casino is on its way to pick us up, too. Our driver slows and signals that he's no longer needed.

The big attraction for many, resulting from all of the new Indian gaming establishments around the country, is the gambling table. For me it's the buffet table. It's simply an awesome experience whenever I come to a place like this. Four-course meals are the norm -- even for breakfast. Bacon is one of my favorite breakfast sides, and it's absolutely the highest quality attainable. What's best is that you can have all you want. Of course, included is a full salad and fruit bar, assorted cereals, breads and even ice cream with assorted condiments including hot fudge. At least one among us loves ice cream and hot fudge.

Besides a casino, the Blue Water is truly a destination resort, complete with quality motel rooms, bars, lounges, an indoor stage, boat slips and an outdoor amphitheater where I recently saw the rock group BTO (Bachman, Turner, Overdrive). You remember their famous hits: Taking Care of Business, Let It Ride, Roll On Down The Highway, etc. Listening to their music took me back to the seventies. Entertainment of this caliber is regular fare here, and only twenty-five minutes from Indian Hills via C-150.

When it's time to stop visiting the food line and pay up, "Stearman Jim" won't let anyone else have the check. Haven't I already said, "Such a guy!"?

On the way home, Holmberg and I can see Goodman flying low and slow below us. The rest of our group follows.

About a half-hour after we land, Holmberg and I verify that everyone except Goodman has landed safely. As we drive past Goodmans's hangar on our way to the dump (a weekly trek for most residents around here), we see that his pickup is no longer by the hangar. We're glad to know that not only has he made it home safely, but that everyone else has, too.

What a fantastic day it has been. Such are the rewards of remote airpark living.


Copyright (C) 2000 Ron Kilber Non-commercial reproduction permitted in its entirety with this copyright notice intact.

9:31PM 9/17/00

Tragic update to story

Monday, September 18, 2000

It is with great regret that I learn Bill Goodman not only was forced to land near Bouse yesterday after loosing his engine, but that I never positively confirmed his safe return to Indian Hills Airpark. The reason Holmberg and I didn't see Goodman's pickup at his hangar is because his wife had already retrieved it. Goodman called her after crash-landing, she taking the pickup (with trailer) to fetch him and his broken Gull.

Miraculously, Goodman was not injured, although the same can't be said for his Gull. Besides a ruined engine after loosing all its coolant, the Gull lost its nose wheel, too.

This experience brings new meaning for me to the phrase, "positive i.d.". I will strive to never again use indirect evidence as gospel when it comes to life-and-death issue.

Ron Kilber

© Copyright 1996 - 2001 Ron Kilber All rights reserved.