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4000 Miles around the Southwest of the USA in an ultralight-airplane.

After having made my pilot-training in Canada, I bought an ultralight-airplane in Colorado and started 1996 to my first airplane-trip from Colorado Springs through Wyoming to Salt Lake City, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon and back into Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. I traveled with 40 miles an hour and it took me 2 months to complete these 4000 miles.

If you want to know more about this unlimited ultralight-flying in the United States, welcome on board of this flight!

Louis Palmer

The routemap

I bought my ultralight called Quicksilver MXL in Granby, Colorado, in July 1996.

3 weeks later, I was ready to start after having brought the plane down the mountains to LEAF Inc. in Colorado Springs. With 25 kgs of luggage strapped around the landing gear, the question was finally…

… where should I store my sleeping bag and my tent? Of course, inside the wingtips!

The first look: a flat world called Colorado! My friends told me: Just follow this road for 60 miles!

I had imagined that flying is something absolutely relaxing.

.. but unfortunately, at my first landing, I found myself in a cactus-field! And all my tires had a 40 punctures each!

The second landing was much nicer – just inside the campground of Wellington, Colorado. Douglas, the manager, was so much impressed about the first airplane visiting his campground that he offered a campsite to pitch up my tent for free!

Finding a parking-site is not a problem at the Medicin Bow Metropolitan Greater Area International Airport! (Wyoming)

The first emergency-landing. I run out of fuel in Wamsutter, Wyoming, and pulled up to Texaco!

Just after my crossing of the Rocky Mountains, I run out of fuel again and had to land in a cowboy’s garden. I was scared that they might shoot me. This is the Wild West! But people always turned out to be very friendly and helpful!

One of the most attractive and spectacular flying-places on earth: Flying inside the world’s biggest whole, the Bingham Copper Mine near Salt Lake City, Utah!

Like flying on the moon: 200 feet over the Salt Lake Desert, Utah. Salt Lake Desert, Utah.

The engine gave out during take-off, and I felt about 12 feet, crashing the plane! It looked like if the game was over!

Battle Mountain, Nevada.

Just before I gave up, some people from the nearby fire-fighting-airplane-base appeared and fixed my plane with their tools. I couldn’t believe: my plane was being repaired within two days, and I could continue my trip!



Next stop: In front of a farmer’s house. I asked him for petrol from his traktor and I was afraid what he would say. But it came out as usual: He told me that he was very pleased to meet me and next time, I should land here again and visit him again!

I arrived in Reno just on time, during North America’s second largest balloon-festival. I could see 80 balloons rising into the sky this morning!



The absolute highlight of my trip: Flying over San Francisco!

The Navy boats in the Bay. An idea about landing: should I, or should I not?

What should I think when I see how people live in big cities? They are down there, while I am up here!

World’s largest windmill plant near Mojawe.

My friend Chuk followed me in his ultralight for a day and tooks some great shots from the air!

Just a few feet away from Edwards Air Force Base!

One chap invited me in Bakersfield to spend a night in an apartment inside his hangar, to take care of his “Mustang”. He told me: “Just close the door behind you when you leave tomorrow morning!” I was very much surprised about the great hospitality of pilots!


Landing in the Death Valley.

as-crash-desert-0014Emergency-landing near Bryce-Canyon, Utah. Broken axle. Lost, dozens of kilometers from help, without water and food.


dietcokeThere are not many people on this world who saved their life with Diet Coke! I saved my life in this wilderness by finding some tins in a lonely, abandoned house!

axlefixedThe next day, I fixed the axle with some house-clamps and a shovel. I found all these items in that lonely house! Finally, I reached Kanab again, with two liters of fuel left in my tank!

Parya Canyon, part of the Grand Canyon. Here I lost my back wheel. A few minutes later I crashed on Page Airport.


Fantastic view into the Grand Canyon!




Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, Page, Arizona


Navajo Monument, Page, Arizona

lake_powell_utahLake Powell, Utah / Arizona

monument_valleyMonument Valley, Arizona

monument_valley2Monument Valley, Arizona

This F/A-18 had just landed 10 minutes after me, on the Grand Junction International Airport, Colorado.


rocky_mountainsFinally, once again, I flew over the Rocky Mountains on the way back to Granby, Colorado.

After 2 months and 6000 kms, I disassembled my plane, put it in a wooden crate and shiped it to Switzerland.
I had a lot of fun during this trip. But I was glad to be alife, too.


Luois Palmer