As I was driving down Deer Valley road, I passed the Honeywell Aviation hanger. I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see. I saw what looked like an EMB-170 sitting, engines and strobe/beacon lights running. Since you can only glimpse this hanger from the road for only about 3 seconds before it goes out of view again, I didnt get to see much on the first pass. Obviously, I couldnt believe what I saw. So, I made a quick U turn at the first opprotunity and sped back to where I could see the hanger. Since no one was behind me, I slowed considerably to get as good of a view as possible. I saw what was quite obviously an EMB-170, all white, no paint, except for the rudder which had the correct "Embraer" paint on it. Again, I saw it had the engines running, so I made another U turn, and sped into the airport parking lot where I made a mad dash to the observation deck.
When I made it up the stairs, I could see the giant aircraft (compared to 99% of aircraft we see there) sitting and holding short of runway 7R. Thats when I realized what I was missing. My camera, my binoculars, and my radio scanner. 3 things I rarely dont have at the airport. I congratulated myself on my stupidity, and stood on the deck ready to see the jet fly magically into the sunrise.
But then a small prop blew a tire and almost skidded off 7R. Hooray. Wait for 10 minutes as trucks and tractors go out to the runway to drag it off. DVT is usually the 2nd busiest airport in AZ, and closing down a runway for 10 minutes doesnt really help out the flow. So, by the time they drag it off, there are 15 or so aircraft waiting to take off on the smaller 7L runway. The only aircraft still waiting on 7L was....the Embraer.
It slowly turned onto the runway and held in position until a Piper Archer cleared the runway sufficiantly to where it wouldnt be destroyed by the wingtips of the 170.
Cleared for takeoff, it rolled down the runway very quietly. I couldnt even hear it until it almost reached me. Rotate, and it lifted off the asphalt in a cloud of dust and birds that were blown out of the way on the side of the runway.
Well, thats the story, and I was wondering. Does anyone here in PHX know...
1) How long it has been here
2) Is it coming back
3) Why was the whole aircraft re-painted white (except the rudder for obvious reasons)
4) Why is Deer Valley such a magnet for new aircraft? New CRJs, Extras, Embraers. Why do they come here for avionics and flight testing? I would think there would be dozens of better places to have it done at.
Photo © Philippe noret