I flew one time from UT47 near Hurricane Utah to Marble Canyon (L41) to have breakfast with some friends who had gone on ahead in an RV9. It was a beautiful early morning flight in the Fall. I had a nice tailwind as I came over the rim of Marble Canyon at about 400 ft. AGL west of the airport. The canyon rim is about 3000 feet above the airport and the cliffs are as close to vertical as you can get. It was glassy smooth as I started the descent. When I reached an altitude just below the rim, I realized I had gone over Niagara Falls in a yellow barrel. I was a leaf in class 5 white water. I was flying at around 100 kts indicated but every couple of seconds the stall warning sounded and the red light flashed. Control was a joke. I was just an object and the air was doing whatever it wanted with my airplane. Both hands on the yoke, I had no use for instruments, just concentrated on keeping the view out the windshield looking somewhat sane. There was about a thousand vertical feet of that ass kicking and then the turbulence dropped off, not completely mind you. There was one last big suck over the gorge off the approach end of runway 3. I flew the length of the runway at about 10 ft. to check the conditions near the ground. I had 40 degrees or more of crab and the runway there is about as wide as a pickup truck bed. Before I got to the departure end, I had already decided: ass-kicking turbulence (strike one), ridiculous crosswind (strike two), pencil thin runway (strike three). I climbed out towards the south rim of the canyon fully expecting to get pulverized again, but that sheet of air flowing across the canyon floor turned into a big smooth elevator at the southern cliff face. I flew back to home base and about 30 minutes after landing, Hurricane UT lived up to its name.
Oh, and the guys in the RV? They both cracked their skulls on the canopy on the way in, did a go-around at the big suck and landed on the second attempt, but then, he was a navy pilot and didn’t know any better.
Now, if anybody asks me "How close have you flown to your destination and still aborted?" I say 10 feet.
My hat’s off to those scenic tour pilots who fly that territory in the summer with rivers of Japanese puke in the back of the plane.