At this year's AYA convention at Glens Falls, one of the more original ideas was Geoff Hickey's Geological Air Tour. This was a 186-nm loop around Albany, starting and ending at Glens Falls. (Use this link to get a printable copy of the route. Directly from the browser, it probably won't print correctly; but it will print OK if you load it into a photo editor.)

Geoff had arranged for his father, who knows a lot about the topic, to explain in one of the seminars how the area near the convention site was formed, roughly 400 million years ago. We used his narrative as a guide for our tour.

The weather on the day of the tour was not very good during the convention, and many of us missed the opportunity. But having heard Dr. Hickey's lecture, we still wanted to fly the tour. So it became the object of the AYA Northeast Region's October fly-in. Usually, at fly-ins we just arrive, eat, and leave. This time we actually did some organized flying. It turned out to be a small gathering: only these three Grummans, plus one off-brand plane just out of camera range.

It wouldn't be an AYA fly-in without some food involved, would it? And for some, there was still a bit of flight planning to do.

Here's what we saw on the tour. Thanks to Barbara Albeke and Andrew Rosca for the photographs.

En route to Glens Falls, we passed the Saratoga Monument, which we had seen on the ground during the 2007 convention. The Battle of Saratoga, turning point of the American Revolution, is considered to be one of the ten most important battles in the history of the world.

Arriving at the airport, we see the correct amount of airplane shadow. You don't want to look down and see two shadows unless you're flying in formation. If you're doing that, you shouldn't be looking at shadows anyway.

The section headings that follow refer to Dr. Hickey's narrative.

1. Glens Falls to Hoosick Falls
The Hudson Valley is an old suture zone between two tectonic plates. In this area, it's the boundary between the original North American landmass and Baltica, which drifted our way from northern Europe.

2. Hoosick Falls to Stephentown
This area features deep valleys that were scoured by ice sheets from 14,000 to two million years ago.

3. Stephentown to Athens
Here we're flying over relatively flat land between the two plates, but the north-south grain left by the ice sheets is still evident.

We crossed the Hudson River at – of all places – Hudson, New York. The river is essentially at sea level here, 120 miles from its mouth. From Albany to the Atlantic Ocean, the river drops only one and a half feet.

5. Palenville to Maben (Lexington)
Unlike the "scrunched-up" Taconics, the Catskill Mountains are sedimentary. This is an old, huge delta, which has been shaped by glacial erosion. Some river bottom.

Hunter Mountain ski resort is on this leg. It isn't very busy in October.

7. Blenheim to Esperance
This area is filled with sediments from a glacial lake. The retreating ice sheets also formed drumlins, but they're not in this photo.

As we turned to follow Schoharie Creek to Esperance, this is the view from the lead ship to the three planes in trail, with the Catskill Mountains in the background. The first shot was into the sun, so the photo had to be doctored to show where the airplanes are. The second photo, taken in the opposite direction from the last plane in line, is much clearer.

9. Ft. Hunter to Day Center
Water flow in Great Sacandaga Lake reversed direction a few thousand years ago. There are tributaries indicating how the lake once drained southwest toward the Mohawk River. Now it drains northeast to contribute to the Hudson River drainage.

10. Day Center to Glens Falls
One last turn along Great Sacandaga Lake, and we're eastbound to the end of the tour at Glens Falls.

The last landmark on our route was formed much more recently than 400 million years ago – the Great Escape water park.

Here are the links again:
     the route (810K JPEG)
     the narrative (218K PDF)