Just some stuff I want to share with you

Posts in category USA 2010

Back to the US.

Time to go home and say goodbye…

Today we go back home. Back to the cold and wet autumn weather. Holiday is over. I really enjoyed it. We had a nice team (although there was some tension between a few people in the group), overall good weather, nice views, too many drinks (but no headaches), a great plane and a lot of fun. Here’s an overview of the whole trip:

Over the last few days we discussed the next trip: perhaps going to the north-east where the Great Lakes can be found or perhaps fly Route 66… Who knows. With a bit of luck, I’ll tell you next year.

Los Angeles or Santa Monica to be more precise…

Yesterday we drove from San Diego to Santa Monica. Here we will spend two nights before flying back home tomorrow. The weather has turned into cold and fog/drizzle; not very nice holiday weather at all. Today we tried to find the Hollywood sign, but it is covered in fog. We just pottered around town, did some shopping, eating, drinking, relaxing. It were a few pleasant days of doing not a lot.

San Diego

We’re done flying but still have a few days left until we fly back home. The plan is to stay in San Diego today and drive to Los Angeles tomorrow where we will stay for two nights.

After a slow start this morning, we planned to go for a drive based on one of the many organized city tours. First stop: the harbor next to the USS Midway.

Some of the guys couldn’t resist looking up her skirt…

We then crossed the San Diego – Coronado Bridge to “hit the beach” and have lunch at the Hotel del Coronado.

The next stop is Balboa Park. After some walking around, we found the San Diego Air and Space Museum. The museum itself was entertaining but not very interesting, but Jeroen and I went for a “flight” in a MaxFlight simulator. It was fantastic. This thing moves in all dimensions and we went for a dogfight; so we ended up upside down, nose down, on our back and all other options you can come up with. In the end we managed to shoot one airplane… Good fun though!

Then we were kicked out… because they were closing. Back to the hotel. It was getting dark already. Jeroen found out that there was a parking garage close to our hotel that was “on short final” of the San Diego airport. So, we went there and with his charm, he got permission to drive to the top deck where we had an amazing view on landing aircraft. They are so close to you on this deck; incredible.

Most of us went for a nice meal and some drinks; Ferdinand stayed in the motel, he just didn’t have any energy left. It was good fun today. San Diego is a nice place; there are enough interesting places and the Gaslamp quarter or district provides all the entertainment for a good night out.

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

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: