Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Rest of April


Peeples Valley Arizona

Well, I’ve been flying the drone.  I’m fascinated by the possibilities that come up with a different perspective.  The only real frustration is that there are so many rules.  No flying directly over people or moving vehicles, no flying in National Parks, and all the regulations around airspace.  But I still have a huge grin when I fly.


Walnut Grove Arizona

The high viewpoint makes me newly enthusiastic about places I’ve shot frequently, like the bright green cottonwoods near home.


Valley of the Gods, Utah

San Juan River

We had a road trip to southern Utah recently, and the aircraft gave a much more interesting view of some places which are difficult to shoot well from the ground like the entrenched meanders of the San Juan River (shot from outside Goosenecks Sate Park), the Moki Dugway, and Valley of the Gods.



Even more challenging to shoot well from the ground is a lovely bit of private property which belongs to some friends nearby.  I’ve tried many times.  So far this drone shot of their labyrinth is the one I like the best.

Great Horned Owlet, Peeples Valley Arizona

Not with the drone, but off the ground, I’ve been sitting on a friend’s roof in Peeples Valley intermittently to spy on some Great Horned Owlets.  My 5-10 approach shoes with the sticky soles (I call them slick rock shoes) have saved my butt up there.

I’m working on a couple of wish lists, one for drone shots and one with great places for the whole family to visit; BLM land for Gypsy the Dog and for the drone, fishy for my husband the angler, and beautiful for everyone.  Suggestions are appreciated.  I’ll report on my progress as the summer goes along.

Thursday, April 6, 2023



Aerial; cholla, desert gold and ajo lilies, Darby Well area, Southern Arizona

I’ve been absorbed in a project for a couple of months, studying for the FAA Commercial Drone Pilot Certification.  Last week I passed the test.  Normally I wouldn’t share the score, but I got 97%, which will resonate with readers of The No1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, who know that Mma Makutsi was comically proud of her 97% at the Botswana Secretarial College. I got my score before I walked out of the testing center at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, so I was all ready for a nice lunch at El Gato Azul.  That was the conventional part of the celebrations, together with the errands required of rural people like us when we’re in the city.


Certification doesn’t allow me access to more places, but it does let me legally sell my drone images and donate them to my favorite nonprofits.  Perhaps the best perk is feeling confident that I know the regulations when I’m out there flying and know how to get Air Traffic Control permission when I want to fly in controlled airspace.  I’m looking at you, Watson Lake.  Then there’s knowledge for knowledge’s sake (no, I’m not being sarcastic).  I now know how to read sectional charts, decode aeronautical weather reports, and understand airspace.  I can read all those little letter and number signs at airports, too.


Lupine and owl's clover, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Arizona

The big celebration was a road trip with a treasured photography friend.  We met at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, where there were still a few nice flowers.



Ajo Lily

The focus of the trip was to safely (sandy roads and border crossers) visit a place which, in a good year, has purple verbena and white dune primrose blooming together.  We drove 50 miles on dirt roads, only to find that this was not a good year there.  We elected to keep our eyes open and be flexible as we looked for another place to camp, and among other things we found a lovely growth of Ajo Lilies and a photogenic rattlesnake.


Aerial; Organ Pipe Cactus and Black Mountain with blooming brittlebush

On our last camping night together, we found a colorful spot on BLM land in the area.  National Parks and Wildlife Refuges (where we’d been until then) don’t allow drone flights, but I enjoyed some flying time here.  In the morning.  After the 35 MPH wind gusts settled down.  Sigh.


Profusion of brittlebush blooms, Darby Well Area, Southern Arizona

The joke was on my traveling companion a bit, since he half-seriously says he doesn’t love yellow flowers.  We had a profusion of desert gold and brittlebush blooming, both yellow.


Detail, Darby Well Area, Southern Arizona

It’s getting warm out there, so I’m going to declare the desert camping season done.  I’m looking forward to day trips for sahuaro blooms and to returning to the high country if it ever thaws out.  This all sounds like more celebrations to me.

There are more images on the website, in the Southern Arizona Gallery on the website.