Moab local Tim Martin said that back in the days when he used to run his own chartered flight company he would sometimes see one of the many natural rock arches in the area and think: “Wow, that looks like it might be big enough to fly through.”
And for Martin, “might be” was good enough to give it a try and ultimately make numerous daredevil flights through some of Moab’s iconic arch formations. He estimates today that he has flown through 14 different arches “probably 1,000 times,” mostly in the 1980s, and sometimes with passengers.
“[Flying through the arches] never seemed really scary to me,” Martin said, “but I had people in the airplane with me a few times that got pretty shaken up.”
Flying through arches is now widely illegal, and Martin doesn’t recommend it anyway.
“Don’t do the dumb things I’ve done. If you do … you’ll end up getting dead,” he said.
However, there is an opportunity to get vicarious arch-flying thrills during the Moab Museum’s upcoming virtual event The Arch-Flying Cowboy: Stories from Tim Martin. The event will feature footage of Martin’s aeronautical adventures, as well as a discussion with museum staff and Martin about his life of adventure in and above southeastern Utah. The event is part of the Tuesdays With the Museum series and will be livestreamed on Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m. on the museum’s website and Facebook page. A recording of the event will be archived on the museum’s website.
“We’re excited to be able to share the story, and some stunning footage, of a Moab-area adventurer who has long been a fixture in our community,” said Mary Langworthy, the head of community outreach and membership at the Moab Museum. “Tim Martin is a Moab classic: a kind and humble person with an outsized appetite for absolutely outlandish adventure.”
Langworthy echoed Martin’s words of warning about flying through arches and how dangerous and illegal it is. She also said the value in Martin’s experiences come from more than just the adrenaline factor.
“Martin’s stories convey a great love for this landscape, and the excitement and wonder that this place instills in so many,” she said.
Martin’s arch flying was just one part of his aerial life. Martin said that when he and his wife, Darla, owned the chartered flight business Mustang Aviation, most of the flights he did were scenic flights and transports of river runners returning to Moab.
The Moab Museum is closed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic but has moved some exhibits and stories, people profiles, historical photographs and oral histories to its website.
For more information, go to www.moabmuseum.org or call 435-259-7985.