Just some stuff I want to share with you

Posts in category Western USA

Cowboys, deserts, gambling, big cities and a wonderful coastline. It’s all here. Let’s have a look.

Marginal conditions…

So, here we are at Gillespie Field with planes that need to go to Montgomery and Palomar. The forecast shows very marginal conditions. We have 2 options: leave the planes here and have them picked up by the owners or try to fly them back. After waiting for a few hours and monitoring the weather reports and forecasts we decided to fly them back home. Issue one of today: how do we get to the aircraft??? Yesterday, it was quite easy: we were instructed to park our planes in front of the terminal building. But today, we are at the other side of the airport and you can not just “walk over there”. The local flying school helped out. They provided “transportation”: yep, a golf cart…

Jeroen and I took off for Palomar; on a clear day a relaxed 30 minutes flight. Initially we had good flying conditions. But when we were getting closer to Palomar, we saw that the airport was hidden by a cloud base that was just 700 – 900 feet above ground. Palomar was “special VFR only”. We contacted the tower and found out that we were not the only guys up here trying to get to Palomar. At a certain point in time we had at least 4 other aircraft in a holding pattern way outside the class D airspace of Palomar.

But then we received a clearance to enter the Palomar airspace. We were on a long final when we were instructed to fly north again. By now we were about 800 feet above ground; the terrain has a lot of hills; visibility is poor and other planes are flying in…

OK, N2454G cleared to land (again). Back to the track that would bring us in; “Skylane 2454G make a 360 over the left”… Shit, another plane is allowed to land before us. “Palomar Tower, 360 completed”; “Skylane 2454G make another 360 over the left”. We’re still under a thick overcast at 700 – 900 feet above ground and visibility is about 3 – 4 statute miles…

“2454G cleared to land; sorry for the delays”… Hey, we’re more than happy if we can proceed now… The G1000 is our friend today. It guides us nicely to the centerline on a 4 mile long final. We don’t have the airport in sight, but the G1000 shows that we are on the right track. And suddenly: there she is: the runway. It became my best landing after 2 weeks of flying over here. What a great way to complete the tour. Have a look at the GPS track: it shows all the nice turns we had to make today. In the end, a 30 minute flight became more then 1 hour. But it was good fun.

The other aircraft also made it to Montgomery, so we can now finalize the tour with a lot of paperwork… Pay the bills, hand over the keys and paperwork and take a picture with the Pinnacle Aviation Academy team that helped us out to make this tour possible. From left to right: Paul Wickstrom, Sheri McJimsey, Cathe Fair-Johnson, Jeroen van Rossum and Addie Janssen. 

We hired a car to drive to Montgomery to pick up the rest of the group. Then it’s time to get to downtown San Diego. We had a perfect night out in San Diego. Max turned 60 at midnight and that required some special attention of course. Another beautiful day in paradise.

That’s it for today. Have a look at the pictures and the tracks of today:

Back to start…

Today is the last flying day of the tour; we need to bring the planes back to their home base. For our plane that’s Palomar, for the others it’s Montgomery. The forecasts for these fields are not very good; the fog that we saw yesterday afternoon has moved inland to the south of where we are and where we need to go to. Visibility at Monterey is not an issue; the fog is still over the ocean.

By the time that we are getting close to our first planned stop, we find that that airport is not an option; visibility and cloud base are way too low. We deviate to a nearby airport: San Luis Obispo. The weather here is perfect and we’re just 5 minutes away from the original planned airport… San Luis Obispo is situated in a valley and the mountains between the valley and the ocean keep the fog out. After lunch we move on to the south. Next stop: Whiteman; an airport in the northern part of Los Angeles. In order to get there, we have 2 options: follow the coastline and potentially run into fog and a low cloud base or go inland where we need to maneuver between the mountains. We chose for the mountains and that was a good choice; visibility was perfect. We asked for flight following, a service where Air Traffic Control monitors your flight and provides useful information along your route. By the time that we were getting closer to the mountains ATC got more and more worried. They really care! It’s another example of a service that makes flying in the USA good fun.

We got to Whiteman without any issues. At Whiteman we looked at the weather reports and forecasts of both Palomar and Montgomery. It was quite obvious that we would not get to these airports today. Both were IFR only… So, next stop: Gillespie; it’s close to both Palomar (about 30 minutes) and Montgomery (about 10 minutes) and both the weather report and forecast were looking good for that airport. In order to get to Gillespie, we need to overfly Los Angeles… and that’s a big place with a lot of airports. Several VFR routes are available and we discussed to follow one of them that would take us over the city on the east side. But just after takeoff, ATC took over: fly this track, that track, etc. Fabulous! We are overflying one of the biggest cities without any problems. We hear Lex and Max struggling over the radio; but in the end everyone ends up at Gillespie.

We found a motel in El Cajon, just 5 minutes away from Gillespie Field. There’s not a lot to do in El Cajon, but we did end up in the local “saloon”. Tonight you can learn to dance here and later on the planning shows karaoke… We witnessed it all (no, we did not participate; the locals were more than capable messing it up themselves 😉

That’s it for today. Have a look at the pictures and the tracks of today:

Bridge… What bridge?

I think this is the best day of our flying tour. We stopped at nice places and we’ve seen things that I thought we would never get close to.

While loading up our plane, we saw the new Cessna 162 SkyCatcher; this is airplane was recently introduced to the market. It’s not yet available in Europe I think. It’s a small 2 seater aircraft; very basic but with a glass cockpit. The stick is a bit special. It moves from side to side in order to control the ailerons. According to the owner, that’s something that looks strange, but works great. Nice plane, but not for me… It’s too small, too light. I really like the 182 we’re flying during this tour. It’s got a great engine; enough power to take 3 people, a lot of luggage and still allows for enough fuel to fly for at least 3 hours.

We’re on route to Murray Field, but before going there, we will make a detour to see mount Shasta. Today’s tracks will bring us back to the coastline and therefore we need to fly over the mountain range between us and the coast. The weather is good; visibility perfect and the wind isn’t very strong. Good conditions to cross these high hills.

Then we follow the coast to another beautiful airport: Shelter Cove. This is a place where people that can afford it, have their second, third or fourth house. They come here to play golf or just relax. And that’s all that you can do here…

We were just in time for the weekly farmer’s market.

After some fish and chips at the local “restaurant”, we pottered around before taking of for the next stop.

We filmed the departure of “Team Slow”; right on the centerline at hole whatever of the golf course. I can’t imagine doing something like that at an airport in Europe… It’s great to fly in the US!

On to Sonoma; another stop to stretch the legs.

Next stop: Half Moon Bay. This is where we will say goodbye to Marianne and Henk; they will spend a few days in San Francisco and this airport Is the perfect stop to take a taxi to their hotel. On our way to the field we had the opportunity to fly along the bay area. Here’s the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.

Here’s Alcatraz.

And the world famous Golden Gate Bridge.

It still amazes me that we are allowed to fly here. This is one of the biggest cities of the USA; there’s a big airport nearby and the bridge must be one of the most protected locations in this country. But there we are at a 1000 feet over it… It’s a big place…

The G1000 is extremely helpful when navigating this area with all its different airspaces. Another nice feature: TIS or Traffic Information Service; it shows aircraft that are close to you. Have a look at the screen:

Time to say goodbye to Marianne and Henk and get out of here. We’re running out of time and the fog is coming in. On our last track to Monterey it’s strange to see the fog over the ocean and touching land. It’s difficult to distinguish land and water. We made it just in time to Monterey; both from a daylight as a fog point of view.

We ended this very pleasant day in a nice restaurant at the pier. As stated in the beginning of this post: this was the best flying day so far. The views, the weather, even the landings; everything was just perfect.

That’s it for today. Have a look at the pictures and the tracks of today:

Going North…

Today we will do our most Northern track of the tour. We started our day by flying to Placerville. There’s nothing at this place, it’s just a stop to stretch the legs and have a drink.

We then moved on to Sacramento Executive for lunch. We (Jeroen, Niels and I) stopped at Red Bluff; “Team Slow” didn’t stop at this airport, since it would take too much time. The “Fast Boys” didn’t stop here either; they took a slightly different track. It’s the benefit of a faster plane; you can get to places a bit faster and therefore cover more miles in a day.

The last stop of the day is at Benton/Redding.

That’s it for today. Have a look at the pictures and the tracks of today (track between Placerville and Sacramento Executive is missing. I don’t have an idea why…):

It’s a special day!

We started flying today at 10:10 and the date is 10-10-2010… No, it wasn’t planned, it just happened and it’s going to be a special day. Just read on.

The first stop of today is Barstow – Dagget; a small airfield in the middle of nowhere. It’s just a stop to relax; have a drink and then move on. There are so many fields like this in the US. Their in the middle of nowhere; have hardly any services (besides fuel, coffee and a toilet), but there’s always people around to “manage” the field. Like at this place: there are 2 men in the “office building” to manage this airport. Strange…

The next stop is Mojave. It’s in the middle of the Mojave dessert; an ideal place when you want to work on stuff that you don’t want a lot of people to see. Strange and wonderful things happen at this airport. There are numerous companies working on all sorts of new aircraft and technology.

You can’t see a thing, until you walk into the local restaurant. Here we met Sir Richard Branson and Burt Rutan. Yeah right, you think… Lex just asked him if we could take a picture. Not a problem at all. Great guy; that’s the way to do it. Unfortunately, Burt already left otherwise he probably would also have joint the photo session.

So, why would Richard Branson be here on 10-10-2010? Well, we found out after looking at one of his websites: www.virgingalactic.com. This is one of the things that happen at this airport. We were just a few hours too late, otherwise we may have had unique pictures…

The next hops brought us to Bakersfield and we ended our day at Mariposa-Yosemite; a small town close to Yosemite national park. This is another beautiful airport to fly into. The scenery is fantastic and the airport is slightly upslope which makes it even greater to land at.

That’s it for today. Have a look at the pictures and the tracks of today: