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September 27-30, 2018


This fall USPA members will have the unique opportunity to visit the greatest secret of WW II: the location of the Manhattan Project (the creation of the atomic bomb, which ended the War).  The city of Los Alamos with 18,000 residents was a secret Army base of military and civilian scientists and support personnel which began in 1943 from a boys’ outdoors college preparatory school (the Los Alamos Ranch School).  It was so secret that the post office had a Santa Fe address and the driver’s license had no real address.  The city is home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory owned by the US Dept of Energy’s National Security Administration.


During the early days of WW II, the fear was that the Germans were close to creating a single bomb able to destroy an entire city, using atomic fission.  Scientists, understanding the nuclear reaction properties, convinced the allies to conduct their own secret research, thus the founding of the Manhattan Project (named after the city where the project began and to confuse the enemy).  In late 1942, Los Alamos had been chosen, because of its isolation, to become the most guarded secret of WW II, closeted on top of a mesa, inside a barbed wire and heavily patrolled Army Post.


To learn about the creation of “the gadget” (the first atomic test bomb), and then Little Boy and Fat Man (the bombs dropped on Japan), USPA members can visit several museums documenting the history of the Manhattan Project, and what it was like to live in this secret Army Post.


Los Alamos and White Rock:  Los Alamos County is the smallest county in New Mexico consisting of the city of Los Alamos (11,000 people) and the bedroom town of White Rock (7,000 people).  Los Alamos is on top of a large mesa, 7355 feet MSL, while White Rock is below the mesa at 6365 feet.  The day temps should be in the 70s and night in the 40s.  The distance from the FBO in Santa Fe is about 44 miles to our USPA hotel (on good roads), the Hampton Inn in White Rock.  Los Alamos is about 10 miles up the mountain from our hotel.  The two restaurants we will be using for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings are within walking distance of out hotel.  The Los Alamos airport is about 8 ½ miles from the hotel, just before the downtown area.  From our hotel there are two roads into Los Alamos.  Exit the hotel, turning right (north) on state highway 4 until state highway 502 (turn left to go west) into downtown Los Alamos (502 becomes Central Ave and goes to the museums).   Turning right out of the hotel but before highway 502 is a left turn on to East Jemez Road which takes you into the back (west) side of Los Alamos.  


Optional guided van tour:  USPA will provide an optional 90-minute guided, narrated tour in a 6-passenger van (with excellent viewing), developed and operated by a local native.  It begins with the geological make-up of the region, follows with information on early inhabitants and visits sites of historical importance to Los Alamos and the National Laboratory.  USPA will schedule when you ride the van (it is optional) and provide you with the day and time.  All departures will be from the Bradbury Science Museum front entrance.  Cost $25/person. 


Schedule:  The rest of visiting on Friday and Saturday will be at your own pace, where ever you want to go.  The Los Alamos History Museum staff will conduct a guided walking tour at 11 am on Friday and Saturday of all the historic buildings depicting what it was like to live and work in Los Alamos in the early to mid-1940s.  The historic sites to visit are all within walking distance of each other, but one can drive as parking around each site is available.


Los Alamos History Museum Campus:  In the heart of downtown, these WW II mostly stone houses are like they were in the 40s and 50s.One large residence has been renovated to house the museum of the history of Los Alamos and a nice gift shop ($5 admission).


Historic Fuller Lodge:  Built of logs in 1928 as a dining hall for the Boys School, it also housed staff and guests and has served as a community social gathering place for 90 years for Los Alamos. Free admission.  


Bradbury Science Museum:  This is located a few blocks east of the Fuller Lodge.  It is part of the National Lab and showcases the history of the Laboratory from its beginning.  It also details what the lab does today and how it serves to protect our nation.  The lab employees some 10,000 people and Los Alamos has one of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the world, with over 66% of Los Alamos residents having a college degree or higher.  Free admission.  


Manhattan Project National Historic Park:  This small museum is located a block south of the Fuller Lodge, on the east side of Ashley Pond Park.  The mission of the Park is to preserve historic facilities used to develop the atomic bomb.  Inside the museum (Visitor Center) are some small exhibits but the 22-minute movie about the creation of the bomb, is very interesting.  Some WW II facilities are open to the public, but a vehicle is needed to reach them.  This National Historic Park is actually located in three states (all were part of the Manhattan Project).  This one is in NM (code named Project Y), another in Oak Ridge, TN (code named Site X) and Hanford, WA (code named Site W).  Free Admission.  


Other Interesting sites, but not associated with the Manhattan Project:

Los Alamos Nature Center:  A museum related to the local geology, wildlife, and nature with live animal exhibits, a planetarium show, beautiful gardens and a nice gift shop.  Northwest edge of downtown on a canyon.  Free admission.   


Bandelier National Monument:  Turning left out of our hotel on highway 4 takes you to this Monument, maybe 6 miles away.  Bandelier has 33,000 acres of designated wilderness but is noted for its ancient Pueblo dwellings.  Access is by shuttle only which is in White Rock.  This is a fee-based site, $15/person or $25/vehicle.  


Valles Caldera National Preserve:  This 89,000-acre preserve is an outdoor wonderland, full of native wildlife, lush valley meadows, verdant forested volcanic domes with wandering valley streams.  This preserve is not unlike it was when the first Spanish explorers visited the area.  To reach this Preserve, continue highway 4, beyond the Bandelier Monument.  Fees $20/vehicle.  


Bob’s tips for shopping:  Los Alamos has a couple of different local stores.  Both are unique because they remind me of stores when I grew up in the 1940s, that is, these stores represent a time long ago. CB Fox is a 3-floor department store (on Central, across from the Post Office) with clothing, furniture and many other items.  About a half block east of Fox is a hardware store, Metzger’s, which offers everything ever needed inside a house or out, appliances to electric razors and about everything in-between.


USPA HOTEL   Hampton Inn in White Rock at 124 State Road 4.  While the address may be Los Alamos, the hotel is physically located in White Rock.  Old Post Office and old Zip codes placed it in the Los Alamos address.  Phone 505 672 3838.  The rooms are $99 plus tax each night (king or twin queens).  The room comes with a complimentary hot breakfast.  The cut-off date is 6 September.  If one wants to arrive early or remain for a couple of days, the $99 rate still applies.  The hotel has recently been renovated.  Our hospitality suite is in the Caldera Room, on the first floor across from the elevator.  


Friday and Saturday evening meals:  USPA will eat as a group on these nights, there will be no guest speakers.  Friday evening, we will have a pizza party at the Time Out 4 Pizza restaurant which is about 75 yards from our hotel (on the same side of the street).  It has excellent pizzas, a very nice salad bar, hamburgers and hot dogs and fountain drinks.  Each USPA member will order and pay for their own food.  We will eat from 6-8 pm.


On Saturday evening we will eat at the Pig + Fig Cafe  (a gourmet restaurant) where we will have a buffet meal.  The restaurant is a short walk from the hotel.  We will have salad, two entrees, veggies, home-made breads, assorted deserts. And tea or strawberry lemonade.  We will eat from 6-8 pm.


Bob’s tips for lunch:  For lunch I recommend the deli at the Los Alamos Co-op Market.  Located near the Holiday Inn, next to the approach end of the airport, it offers hot meals (buffet) and made-to-order, outstanding, sandwiches.  The food is excellent but get there before noon as there are only tables for about a dozen people. Also, very good is China Palace, in a shopping center off Central Avenue.  Excellent sandwiches are at the Pajarito Brewpub and Grill on Trinity Drive.


Airports: USPA primary airport – Santa Fe, NM (SAF):  USPA will be using two airports, Santa Fe and for those USPA members who are experienced mountain flying pilots, the airport at Los Alamos (KLAM).


Santa Fe Municipal Airport (KSAF):  Santa Fe Airport is at an elevation of 6348 ft NSL.  It has 3 runways, but one is closed so 4 approaches.  It is an IFR airport with ILS, GPS (RNAV), and VOR approaches.


USPA FBO: Jet Center at Santa Fe (phone 505 780 4455) (ASRI 129.45).  Jet Center is located just NE of the center of the field, NE of the tower and on the ramp just opposite taxiway G.  It is a full-service, award winning FBO with Hertz rental cars.  USPA members will get a fuel discount.  Parking, though, is not controlled by the FBO as the city owns all the ramp parking spaces and the fee is $6/night.  Jet Center has arranged to have this fee waived so parking for USPA planes will be free.  Make sure the FBO understands you are part of the USPA fly-in.


Los Alamos Airport (KLAM):  This airport is owned and operated by the county. There is no FBO but a terminal building with rental car counters, a lounge, and restrooms.  The airport is at 7171 feet elevation and has a single 6000-foot east-west runway.  It is one way in (from the east) and one way out (east).  The area is populated with flying hazards with a restricted area right up to the airport running south and two mountains about 4000 feet above the airport immediately to the west and northwest.  It has two RNAV IFR approaches.  The 100 LL fuel is self-serve and there are rental cars available at 505-662-1698. There is a county-mandated tiedown fee of $5/night.


FAA Safety Seminar:  Thursday evening from 7-9 pm there will be a safety seminar on mountain flying.  The location is the Holiday Inn at 60 Entrada Drive in Los Alamos (505 661 2646).


Mountain Flying Experience:  If you would like to obtain some mountain flying experience you can set up flying time with some mountain flying experienced CFIs.  Here are some recommendations for instructors based in SAF:


Marc Coan, a CFI since 1986, has given about 200 hours of mountain flying instruction. $59/ hour in your plane. Marc is a long time NMPA member and has access to an IFR simulator. 505-490-8211.


Sierra Aviation: offers flight and ground instruction at $50/hr. and rents aircraft (C-172 and Light Sport).


Michael Szczepanski, owner of New Mexico Sport Aviation is an excellent local instructor with all the gear to facilitate safe mountain instruction.  Michael’s mail is Phone is 505.490.6222.   


Please note:  High altitude health mention.  Los Alamos is almost a mile and a half above sea level, that is at least 6000 feet higher than where most attendees live.  At this altitude it is possible to get altitude sickness (or mountain sickness).  Symptoms include headache, nausea, malaise, or shortness of breath.  Being pilots and knowing about hypoxia, and used to flying without oxygen at 10,000 feet, the symptoms at worse should be mild.  If possible arrive a day early and relax, and drink plenty of fluids.  Otherwise don’t exert yourself the first day at 7300 feet.


Gambling:  For those of you who like gaming, there are nine, Native American owned casinos between 20 minutes and 90 minutes’ drive from our hotel.  Several also have associated hotels, restaurants, and shows.  If you use your search engine you can look up “casinos near Santa Fe, or Taos or Los Alamos” and get info on them.


Fly-in costs:  Optional guided van tour (90 minutes) $ 25
Registration fee to include Saturday buffet $45


NOTE:  Registration cut-off date is Monday, 24 September 2018.

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