Driving through the Rim Country, one sees the trees but may not appreciate the vastness of the forest or the majesty of the rugged volcanic rim called the Mogollon.
A bird's-eye view from one of the three passenger seats of Bob Oswald's Cessna 182 aircraft provides breathtaking, inspiring scenes.
"We go all over, including the Grand Canyon and Sedona -- pretty much anywhere someone might want to go," said Oswald, who owns CAVU Aviation. The cost is based on time in the aircraft.
One of the treats of flying in a small plane is the scenery.
The life-giving waters of the East Verde River meander west through the canyons and the Fossil Creek hiking wilderness, toward the Verde Valley.
The Rim is known for the largest stand of ponderosa pine trees in the United States.
At first look from the west side, the Tonto Natural Bridge reveals what looks like a large cave. Oswald flies close enough to enable passengers to see the waterfall, cascading as it has for millions of years.
And then, in just moments, the plane is over Pine and Strawberry, Ariz.
Green trees vie with the rock of Milk Ranch Point for one's attention.
It looks like the rancher would have had a long journey to transport his milk to market.
"The most popular flight is Northern Neighbors," said Oswald. "The 30-minute flight over the Natural Bridge up to Pine and Strawberry, to Fossil Creek and along the Mogollon Rim to Milk Ranch Point and back costs $45 per person."
Flying between 1,000 and 2,000 feet in altitude, there is very little temperature change and Payson is known for the wind that causes its clear air and blue skies.
Flights are usually scheduled in the mornings because it is less windy and bumpy for the passengers. Sunset excursions are available.
"I like to give them as smooth as possible a ride," Oswald said.
He has been flying for 20 years.
When he went to work at a "real job" in 1985, he had income sufficient to take lessons and pursue his dream.
"My dad was a pilot and a flight instructor."
His father took him on his first airplane ride at the age of five. Oswald remembers being scared.
It is one reason, he said, that children younger than eight don't get the enjoyment out of a flight that an adult will.
"I want to be a good air ambassador," he said.
The flight plan for a beautiful 60-minute flight Oswald calls the "Rim County Experience" takes passengers north, then east across the top of the Rim to the Rim Lakes area and back. The cost is $90 per person.
CAVU stands for "ceiling absolute, visibility unlimited." That's a good description of flying weather in Rim Country.
CAVU Aviation is based at the Payson Municipal Airport on Airport Road. For more information, call (928) 468-8888.
For information about use of the airport, call Manager Ted Anderson at (928) 472-4748.