Sun, April 05

Grand Adventure
Sedona Sky Treks offers Bird’s Eye View of Mother Nature

Like many Arizonans, Martha Edwards has visited the Grand Canyon more times than she can count.

The 16-year Sedona resident thought she was familiar with all this spectacular work offered by Mother Nature, but her outlook changed after seeing it from the sky.

In May she ventured aboard Sedona Sky Treks for its Grand Canyon Grand Adventure package and has been singing praises about it ever since.

"I had only been to the South Rim," says the well-known choreographer and event planner, "this is a whole different planet. You see so much more of the Grand Canyon. It's a different perception. It offers a whole new view of what you think you knew about the Grand Canyon. It's magnificent!"

Owner and chief pilot Tom Newman and wife Tina launched Sedona Sky Treks in 1994. It started with Tom, one airplane and a cell phone, he recalls, providing Sedona air tours and air charter service. In 1995, Tom began offering sky tours of the Grand Canyon. Now, nearly 13 years later, Sedona Sky Treks employs six pilots and owns a pool of five high wing Cessnas that offer unobstructed visibility from horizon to horizon.

What normally takes five hours to drive from Sedona can be accomplished in about 45 minutes -- with a breathtaking bird's-eye view -- aboard Sedona Sky Treks.

Patrons of the Grand Adventure depart from Sedona Airport at 8 or 9 a.m. and return approximately six hours later. With plenty of time left in the afternoon, residents and visitors alike can still take care of business or peruse the many shops in Sedona and the Verde Valley.

"It's our most popular package," says Tom. "You see everything ... the Grand Canyon up and down. It's awesome!"

The adventure begins with a one-hour scenic flight over the high desert of the Colorado Plateau and along the Grand Canyon Rim to Canyon West Airport. From there, passengers take a 5-minute helicopter ride to the bottom of the canyon -- an inspiring 3,200-foot descent.

"It's a phenomenal experience," says Tom, adding, "It's the only place next to the Colorado River you can land by chopper."

Here, guests board a pontoon boat for a short and smooth excursion on the Colorado River. Exiting via a different section of the canyon, the helicopter transports guests back to the top, where they board an air-conditioned motor coach that shuttles them to the West Rim. They stop along the way at the Hualapai Indian Village at Eagle Point, for a buffet-style BBQ lunch prepared by the Hualapai. This all-you-can-eat feast consists of barbecue beef and chicken, vegetables, corn on the cob, cornbread and dessert. While seated at picnic tables lining the west rim, guests can enjoy the panoramic views.

"You have lunch at the best tables in the Grand Canyon," says Tom.

Guests can walk to the end of the peninsula at Guano Point and get a rare view of the bottom of the canyon.

"It's an incredible view," Martha recalls. "It was like a different planet."

Guests can also opt to buy tickets ($25 per person) for the new Skywalk. Shaped like a horseshoe, this glass bridge is suspended 4,000 feet above the Colorado River and juts out from the canyon's edge. Have no fear, it can withstand the weight of 71 fully loaded Boeing 747s (more than 71 million pounds). For more information, visit

In addition to this package, which costs $385 per adult and $290 per child plus tax, Sedona Sky Treks offers a variety of Grand Canyon tours as well as excursions over Monument Valley, Sedona and Bryce Canyon, among others. For details, visit or call 282-6628 or 282-7768.

While Sedona is home to several air tour companies, Sedona Sky Treks prides itself on going the extra mile for its customers. Its friendly veteran pilots are personally trained by Tom and also double as tour guides.

Sedona Sky Treks boasts a perfect safety record, Tom says, and is a FAA licensed and certified air carrier.

With more than 20 years flying experience, Tom says he loves offering once-in-a-lifetime experiences for people.

"If you're doing what you love, success follows."

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