Tim Martin


Tim Martin




Tim has lived in La Sal for 19 years, that’s not counting the generous amount of time spent living at Brown’s Hole just a few miles north of La Sal.
Almost 73 years ago, Tim was born on a kitchen table in an adobe house with a dirt floor three miles East of Moab.  He lived in that house until he graduated from high school.  Up until that time he and his family would spend their summers a few miles north of La Sal in a place called Brown’s Hole.  After finishing high school he moved to Brown’s Hole year-round.  There was no electricity, phone, or running water, but the ground had plenty of nutrients for crops.  He and his wife have planted a very successful multi-acre garden there nearly every year.




There were a few years here and there that Tim lived elsewhere for various jobs or for his stint in the military.  It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that he moved to La Sal proper, but he continues to spend his summer days at Brown’s Hole tending to their massive garden.

Tim’s career started out in trucking.  He drove a semi truck all over the Western United States for over twelve years.  He then joined his nephew in a sheet-metal business.  His nephew, Big John, was involved in a flying club and kept telling Tim that he needed to come take a flying lesson through the club.  At age 37 Tim decided to take his first flying lesson.  It would prove to take him to new heights.













“The first lesson was hard,” Tim recalls, “but it was exciting so I went back.”  Tim took to flying like it was as natural as breathing.  His instructor saw this in him and let him go solo after only five hours of training.  When asked if he was nervous to do his first solo flight he’ll quickly shake his head no.  He was born to fly.  And fly he did.

Tim is well-known for flying aircraft through arches.  He is called the Arch Flying Cowboy.  He flew through his first arch in 1981, the same year he got his pilot’s license.  The arch was Rainbow Bridge near Lake Powell.  He was looking at the arch one day and thought, “If I turn the plane just so, I could probably fly through it.”  He has flown through fourteen different arches since.  He has flown through them so many times that he lost count of how many times he’s done it but says that it is anywhere between 600 to 1,000 times.  The most being about 400 times through Corona Arch, and 100 times through Wilson Arch.


Tim Martin Scan0001
Corona Arch



Tim Martin Scan0001-2
Wilson Arch



Tim has only crashed once in his life.  It was while flying through Pritchet Arch.  He says the approach is the worst of them all because you have to go into a steep dive to get in, and then go into a steep accent to get out.   It’s tricky.  When he crashed he broke his leg near the ankle and although it was painful he was able to walk many miles to a road, while carrying airplane parts.  There were two friends on the ground videoing his flight and they helped carry parts out as well.  They made many trips to get it all.  Tim was able to make three trips in-and-out before he couldn’t walk on his broken leg anymore.

The year he got his private pilot’s license he also took some commercial lessons and soon started his own charter business.  He flew private charters for five years before closing the business.  He went back to truck driving and the sheet metal business, but still flew periodically for other companies.  He was flying for one such company, Wilderness Quest, to do a food and medicine drop to a group in the wilderness.  Larry Wells, owner of Wilderness Quest at that time, was flying with him and was the one to drop the medicine.  Tim flew over the group once to get his bearings and saw a campfire.  It was centrally located in the camp so he made it the target, figuring that the medicine would land close enough to the camp to be found.  He circled around and told Larry to let go when he gave the signal.  Tim calculated in speed, altitude, and what-not then gave the signal.  The medicine landed smack dab in the middle of the fire.  It was a perfect aim, although not intentional.  (The medicine was immediately pulled out of the fire and was okay.)  He is good, perhaps the best.




When asked if flying is his first true love Tim emphatically says, “No.”  Surprised, I asked what his true love is then?  He genuinely replies, “My family,” and then adds with a wink in his eye, “but flying comes in a close second!”  A lot of his grandchildren have not flown with him yet but  he hopes that one day each of them can say that they flew with their grandpa.  I could see in his eyes that that would mean a lot to him.  People mean a lot to him.  Being able to give someone the experience of flight means more to him than making money from it.  He believes in the magic of it all and loves to share it with others.
Tim was able to retire in 2000 from his other jobs but continues to fly whenever he can.  He currently flies for Redtail Aviation doing scenic flight tours, and the San Juan County Sheriff doing Search-and-Rescue and prisoner transports.  Tim is featured in a video called Wanted: Arch Enemy #1.  See a youtube video clip here.  Or order your copy at 435-686-2305 or TimMartinPhoto.com.




Tim took me and my husband flying the other day so I could do this interview and it was awesome!  He is a great tour guide and pointed out hundreds of Indian ruins, flying very close to them so we could get a good look.  He even flew us through an arch.  Check it out below.

or at my youtube channel.

31 comments on “Tim Martin

  1. I don’t like to fly, but I would go with Tim just to be able to see what you saw. What a ride. Loved the article, pictures, and the video. Way cool.

  2. Great job Melissa! I absolutely love the photos. You captured him so well. I wonder if I could have permission to print some to hang on my wall. I am Tim’s daughter, by the way. Enjoyed the article and glad you got to have this awesome flying experience. Nothing else like it!

  3. This was so cool! I love this guy {my uncle} so much, he is absolutely one of my favorite people in the WHOLE world!!

  4. So think the world of this gentle man Tim. He is my hero. I got stuck in greenriver and atom flew in to bring me back to Moab. He is my hero. Thank you Tim!

  5. Melissa, you are a great videographer! You have such a steady hand. And a great editor, too. This is awesome. My dad is pretty cool, too, huh? So are Tom and Margaret. I will look forward to seeing something on them. Great job!

  6. You did a wonderful job with this!!! LOVE THIS and LOVE Uncle Tim very much. His family is deffinatly his most important including all the friends who are considered family by him and Aunt Darla!!!! Everyone must know that along side this AWESOME man is a equally AWESOME wife. Love them both so much.

  7. I have had the honor of flying with Tim, what a thrill. After flying around the LaSal Mountains, he took us flying down the Colorado River, should of brought my fishing pole. I really wish him luck in his endeavors.

  8. Melissa: I will be in LaSal in late March. If you will get me portrait sizes and prices, I would really love to get some from you while I’m there. I could order them right away and pick them up while I’m there.

  9. Melissa I also wanted to mention in addition to Tom & Margaret (amazing people), I would love to see a profile on Lane and Helen Fuller. They are some of LaSal’s most beloved people. When the school replaced their playground equipment somewhere around 18 years ago, some of it was given to them because all the kids in LaSal loved to go spend time there. When I took my 19 year old to visit them a year ago (hadn’t been to their house for probably 15 years), she went straight to the candy drawer, and it’s still a candy drawer.
    My dad has a sketch of Tom Garcia on his wall. When you do a profile on him, I want to get a picture from you as well.

  10. I love too see that people recognize that my dad is just as great a father and person as he is a pilot.

  11. All’s I can say is “What a stud!” Not just as a pilot either. Least ye be confused and think Uncle Tim is bragging about himself, this is his nephew Tim who was named after him. He may be shorter than me but I’ve always looked up to him.

  12. Dear Melissa!

    Wonderful story about Tim Martin! Love to read it!
    The pictures show exactly the man we know and like. We hat two flights with him and that was a wonderful experience.

    If you are interested, here are pictures made during one flight with him: http://hatchcanyon.eu/Navigation/USA/Utah/Moab/Cross_Country_Flights/Eagle/Eagle_5/index.php (switch to larger pictures if the screen of your computer permits)

    More pictures: http://hatchcanyon.eu/Navigation/USA/Utah/Moab/Cross_Country_Flights/

    The text is German but the pictures may be self explaning – at least I hope so.


    Rolf R. Safferthal

  13. Amazing pictures Mr. Safferthal! I wish I could read the text. By the way Melissa, thank you so much for the CD. I will share pics with my dad and the rest of my family. Looking forward to seeing more of your work.

  14. Learned alot from tim spent quite of few of my younger days with him, flying going rock hunting getting wood etc… miss them old days. Tim does really nice work very creative in all he does:)

  15. Thank you for the very positive review! Yes, it was amazing! At first we had technical trouble with these pictures, but afinally it worked, To tell teh truth – the best pictures were taken by my wife. I´m only the developer 🙂

  16. Your father is a wonderful man, so full of knowledge about flying and the landscape below. The flights were simply unforgettable.
    Has your father seen the pictures we took flying with him? Whatever – greetiings to him!

  17. Rolf: I don’t think he has seen them. He doesn’t have internet, so he misses all of this. With your permission, I could make him a cd and take it to him when I go later this month. Your pics were amazing, by the way. And I agree, he is a wonderful man. You couldn’t have found a better person to fly with if you tried, I’m sure. I am a little biased though.

  18. Ericka,

    feel free to burn the pictures to a CD as one possibility to let hin see what we had seen flying with him. (Or I can do so and bring the CD in May to Moab) Maybe he remembers us and if so – we are the folks sending season cards from Germany to him and his wife. 🙂

  19. I’m Tim’s daughter and just this past holiday season my parents were showing me this card that comes from ‘some nice people from Germany’ that Dad flew. They aren’t consistent at sending out cards but said that they have gotten yours for some time but without a return address so they couldn’t tell you how much they enjoy getting them.

  20. Rolf: I’m sure he would enjoy receiving them from you. If you are going to Moab, then I will just leave that to you. I think he will love it. Thank you.

  21. We will bring a CD to Moab. One problem: Until our Journey I may not have the time to label the files properly with names of the objects displayed. Will send this information later by email if it cannot provded on the CD. How to hand the CD over? We will be in town from May 2nd afternoon until May 30 morning. Please use my email to contact me directly.

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