Booyah! I just blazed across four separate states in a minute and a half. Or maybe I should say: In ninety seconds. It’s the same time, somehow it just sounds more impressive in seconds. But either way, surely, this must be some kind of record.
What? What’s that you ask? Were they small states?
No, they were average-to-large sized Western states. Each about 300 miles across.
I can almost see those of you who do math in your heads—or are quick with a slide rule—multiplying 300 by four, dividing by 90, and again by the speed of sound and trying to figure out what on earth kind of an airplane can go Mach 62. After all, the SR-71 maxes out at Mach 3.2, Nasa’s unmanned X-43A scramjet managed Mach 9.6 (securing a Guinness World Record Certificate), and even the international space station orbits at “only” Mach 22, give or take a few hundred miles per hour.
OK. I’ll tell you. The airplane was an Ercoupe. And not even the fastest Ercoupe in the World, Tessie. No, I clocked this time in Lisa’s Warbler.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’m a lying sack of manure. Or that I’m mathematically deluded. Or that maybe someone slipped some of that funny stuff into my tobacco pipe. Well, I said I crossed four states. I never said I crossed every inch of each.
That loud clunk you just heard was 200 slide rules being dropped in disgust.
Yes, this is more a record of geographical opportunity than one of brute speed. You see, out in the middle of pretty-much-nowhere in the high desert southwest is the only quadripoint in the United States. Quad-ri-what? A point on the earth that touches the borders of four distinct territories. In this case the dusty desert spot where the northeastern corner of Arizona, the southwestern corner of Colorado, the northwestern corner of New Mexico, and the southeastern corner of Utah all kiss.
Growing up in “Four Corners Country,” as it is called, I’d visited this remote site before—on the ground—my father piloting the family Vista Cruiser station wagon across isolated ribbons of concrete and down sagebrush-lined dirt roads so his three kids could play Twister in four states at once.
Fast-forward forty-five years. Returning from our Air Mail Adventure, Lisa and I’s flight plan took us near to pretty much the middle of nowhere, and I realized that a minor deviation from our course would give us the opportunity to overfly four states in one graceful turn about a point.
Twister for adults.
I was sitting right seat, so I orbited the Four Corners Monument (at a respectable height as there were many visitors below) in a clockwise steep right-hand 360, returning to my original heading ninety seconds later. Booyah! Four states in ninety seconds!
Then Lisa took over, banked left and orbited the Monument counter-clockwise, setting a pair of speed records that will stand until a faster plane happens to be flying past the middle of nowhere, and decides to deviate for some airborne fun.