Archive for the 'Trips' Category

Trip to the Pacific NorthWest


I departed Smith Ranch Airport (CA35) at 0755 on 7/29/11 direct to Willows Glen Airport (WLW) flying over miles of rice fields and then on to Redding Airport (RDD) for fuel. Lunch was had at the Kla- math Falls Airport (LMT) and I was held up for takeoff for 6 minutes while 5 F16s made their approach and landings. After heading North I turned West at Cresent Lake Airport (5S2) and flew down a beautiful green river valley to Hobby Airport (77S) in Creswell, OR in the Willamette Valley for fuel. I had planned to stay there that night but as it was early I continued North to Kelso, WA and landed there for fuel and motel. The bike was off loaded and I rode to town.

The next morning the rain began as it does in the green Northwest so I lay around and read from my Kindle 3 which saves me from carrying my usual large supply of reading material. After check out time I rode to the airport and arrived thoroughly soaked. There I talked with other weather held pilots and read a lot of flying related coffee table books in the flight office.

Finally at about 1530 I decided the weather to the North was better than that at Kelso. Flying North up and over US I 5 at 2000 msl the weather did get better and skirting West around Seattle I landed at Everett WA, Paine Field (PAE) full of parked Boeing aircraft for fuel. Then heading West after contacting Whidbey Island Naval Air Station ( NUW ) for clearance I flew on the Friday Harbor Airport (FHR) and landed about 1900 in welcomed sunshine. I biked to a near by motel and down to the waterfront for dinner. And so to bed.

The morning of Friday, July 22 was spent biking around the harbor and then at 1100 I went to the UFO’s (United Flying Octogenarians) luncheon at the airport. There I talked with a group of old pilots and met Ernie Gann’s widow an active pilot with whom I sat at the
same table. Ernie Gann is one of my favorite authors specializing in flying stories. In the afternoon I took the ferry to Anacortes where I rode into town for dinner.

The next day there was a small airshow at FHR and about noon I took of and landed at Lopez Island (S31) and at Roche Harbor (private) for lunch. After that I landed at East Sound on Orcas Island and then headed South to land at Skagit (BVS), where by chance, I met a UFO member and then on to Boeing King Airport (BFI) in Seattle where the FBO found me a fancy hotel. The next morning, Sunday July 24th, Grandson Patrick R. Mullen picked me up and we dropped some of my gear at Boeing Field and proceeded to Lake Union to view a wooden boat show. After that Patrick took me on a tour of the University of Washington above Lake Union were he attends during the school year and continues to stay in his fraternity house while working two Summer jobs of 45 hours per week. He looked very good and seemed pleased with his life.

For lunch we stopped the the original Ivar’s Restaurant on the Seattle waterfront. Then it was back to Boeing Field were we spent the remainder of the afternoon viewing the Boeing Museum of Flight. As I learned the weather might turn bad on the next day I elected to take off that evening and fly South towards Portland and cut East up the Columbia River Gorge intending to land at the Dalles (DLS).

Enroute I viewed Mt.St. Helens and the devastation. As I was flying up the Gorge I passed over a small airport surrounded by orchards and a nearby town, Hood River, which looked too good to pass up. At the airport, Jernsted (4S2), I was loaned a car and drove to town for dinner and hotel. The next morning thunder and lightning extended to the town from the West so I drove to an air museum next to the airport which I found to be a real gem. It is privately owned by Terry Brandt who opened up the new museum for me an hour early and gave me a personal tour. There were about 75 aircraft and about the same number of cars all of which were operational and in mint condition. Most of the collection ranged in the period between WW1 and WW2. Terry has flown all of the airplanes and his favorite is a 1918 Curtiss Jenny.

As the rain had stopped by then I took off in a strong West wind and headed out of the Gorge and then turned South. The flight was very bumpy so I flew rather slowly. To relax a bit and refuel I stopped at Madras, OR (S33). From there it was to Chiloquin (2S7) for pie and ice cream.

The next stop was Willows (WLW) for fuel, but this time I walked over to the nearby Walmart for exercise. Then I traced my way back to my home base, Smith Ranch Airport (CA35), arriving about 1700 on Monday, July 25. It was a great trip and Cessna Cardinal N29520 performed just perfectly.

Totalflyinghours:16.7 Totalfuelconsumed:151gal.Totalcost:Toomuch!

Music and Airplanes

August 8, 2011: by Julia Amaral

Music and Airplanes are two of our favorite pastimes. We got to have both on our recent travels around the country. Mark and I left the Nevada County Airport (GOO) on July 19 and enjoyed an uneventful flight to Burbank. That evening we attended a LA Philharmonic symphony at the Hollywood Bowl with 10,000 other lucky people. We were treated to a very special rendition of Mozart’s Fifth Concerto with the violinist, Gil Shaham, giving a sublime performance with Gustavo Dudamel enthusiastically conducting. Next day we met the LA Philharmonic Librarian, the son of a friend of ours in Grass Valley, at the new, incredibly unique and stunning Disney Concert Hall in LA and were treated to another hour of music in the new concert hall as we watched Dudamel rehearse the orchestra for the next evening’s performance. Then Steve, the Librarian, toured us around the facility and took us to his work area, the music library. It was very impressive to see so many stacks of sheet music so meticulously cared for. The room was like a huge vault that can be made fire proof in a few minutes while being open most of the time for access and work. We were thrilled by the experience. Continue reading ‘Music and Airplanes’

Valerie’s Oshkosh Airventure

We left Florida Friday before Oshkosh and spent the weekend with friends in Louisville. Flying up was uneventful. The Kentucky countryside is just as gorgeous as advertised – rolling hills, green pastures surrounded by trees. We knew we were getting close to Louisville when most of the other traffic in the area were UPS xxx heavy. We saw a clearing in the distance and thought we had the Bowman KLOC airport in sight. Nope – that is the UPS distribution center. The airport was several miles farther.

We headed out Monday morning expecting to make a fuel stop on route. As we got closer, everywhere that that had been VFR was going IFR. We diverted to Champaign Urbana IL, KCMI and got in = ceiling about 2000, just before it went IFR. We decided to drive the 5 hours from there
rather than wait for clearer weather and fly about 2 hours. As it turned out the weather was better as soon as we had driven about an hour, so we just drove the rest of the way. Continue reading ‘Valerie’s Oshkosh Airventure’

Summer Flying

Hanging out at the airport can be the best thing to do on a summer day. There’s a veil of indifference at the gate that does not let any ‘to do’ lists in, cancels all the phone or e- mails and lets one mozy through a day of fun. The characters abound, each hanger having some sort of project in progress that their owners are glad to discuss.

Nicole Vandelaar, a friend from the Santa Rosa 99s and whirly girl, had organized a fly in for several chapters to the 29er Diner at the Petaluma Airport. My job was to stake out a table and defend it from all the other fly in folks. This was a big responsibility since the wx was great and the sky was full of hungry people. We didn’t know how many would show up so I set up a reservation for 8 and hoped for the best. Thank goodness Pat Pittelkow came to keep me company. As it was only 3 others joined us for a relaxing yick yak of flying stories and fun. These are the truly special moments, caught between the business of life, where you can relax without any agenda or deadline.

After lunch I was cruising the ramp and came upon my friend Patrick who wanted to exercise his Stearman. This isn’t any ordinary bi-plane. It’s a gorgeous sky cruiser with an engine on steroids. Patrick is known for his aerobatics which I’ve always envied. It was my lucky day because he was ready to launch and had a seat for me. We took off and immediately descended to just 50’ over the Petaluma River; dusting the tops of pickle weed, boaters and meandering water ways. This was really what the romance of flight is all about. To have the warm wind in your face and a smile on your heart is a flight of a life time.

Early in my flying career I had done a lot of aerobatics with hopes of getting an upside down flying machine. The trouble is that you don’t go anywhere. So those plans were shelved. But oh how I love whirling around in the sky! Patrick put the plane through all the tricks and maneuvers a stomach can take, and I still couldn’t get enough. We’re talking about the most fun you can have in a little patch of the blue! He is a great pilot and loves to share his enthusiasm with others.

Back on the ground there was a beer tasting going on, followed by the spontaneous BBQ. What a day! Who said Saturdays were for chores? Great friends, great fun, great flying…

Monsoon Motown

When the folks at Wx Brief start talking monsoonal flow its time to tighten the seat belts. This is the season of rebirth in the desert, reborn on the deluge of thunderstorms and flash floods. The western Pacific starts chucking gigantic blobs of moisture onto our sweltering summer shores. The Mexican land mass channels moisture up to the Gulf of California where it then brings a second spring to the desiccation of our south western states. They dance in the streets of Tucson knowing the gauntlet of 120 degree days are over. Flowers bloom, ground dwellers crawl out of their burrows and microscopic life burst into life in water pockets and depressions of sandstone.

Yet what this monsoon means to anyone in the mountainous west are massive cumulonimbus clouds with a mean streak. Our longitudinal mountain ranges funnel the tsunami of weather as far north as Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. Stretching from the Sierras to the Rockies a rush- hour commute of violent skies is upon us. The combination of heat and moisture are the nursery of thunderstorms exploding up to 40K. Lighting sears a leaden horizon touching off wild fires that go unabated. If one could sit in a comfy chair under the eaves of a sheltered porch it would be a great light show. For anyone caught out; hiking, climbing, flying, the monsoonal days can be a challenge. I’ve listened to pilots, flying heavy metal, begging ATC to route them around this stuff. It’s not pretty when the passengers in the back of the plane pull out their rosary beads and eject their just-eaten in flight meal.

For those of us with choices, you fly early when the cool air hasn’t started to party, you get your rock climbing accomplished by noon and you have a cool frosty mug of something in hand to watch the fireworks. But when your schedule doesn’t allow the dawn lift off or the fog put a lid on any quick escapes you might as well bring your collection of Motown music favorites. The ride is going to be rough. It’s time to bump and grind with James Brown. The new head sets are great to patch in your music play list.

Our adventure to Oshkosh had to be canceled because of our wonderful, elderly and feeble dog. Mosley is approaching 11 years old and orthopedic collapse. We couldn’t leave him with the pet sitter for 2 weeks. Every day I kept up with all the fun that Julia, Pat, Valerie, Heidi and Kitty were having at AirVenture Oshkosh. There were lots of challenges and lots to do. The plan was to meet up in Idaho on their return trip to keep the fun meter ticking.

Don and I lifted off Sunday the 31st around noon for the 3 hour journey to Smiley Creek, Idaho. By this time the wx gods have stationed their armies of thunderstorms all along the mountain ridges across Nevada, Oregon and Idaho. It would not have done us any good to climb above 10K. That altitude would have been in the thick of things. So we did the bump and grind, swinging wide around the especially dark bases of clouds, blazing through the rain and trying to avoid any lightning. There were no close calls, just lots of altitude/attitude management. Nevada is amazingly green so weird this time of year. Even the Black Rock Desert has stains of standing water.

As the route approaches the North there is an upwelling sense of terrain. Deep canyons cut by the Owyhee, Bruneau and Snake Rivers etch into a rising mass that leads to the Rockies. It’s fun to cut the point A to point B flying and wiggle along with the rivers undulations. Heavy, violent wx was raking the land south of Boise so we skirted to the north and then up and into the Sawtooth Mountains. If you’ve never experienced the majesty of these mountains go now, go soon. They rival any mountains to fly around and gaze upon or climb their lofty spires. The Sawtooth Valley runs north/ south with Smiley Creek airport at the south end and Stanley town and airport at the north end. Smiley has 5000 feet of manicured grass to land on. Adjacent to the tie downs are great camping sites, heated bathrooms and hot showers. The State of Idaho keeps two vans there for pilots to use. Gordon, the caretaker, is there Thursday to Monday to check you into the car or campsites.

Since this was a spur of the moment trip we left the camping gear behind and planned on a hotel down in Stanley. Unknown to us, unknown to my wx briefing 4 hours previously, Stanley’s runway was under construction. Half of the 4300′ dirt strip was getting an asphalt face lift. The ATC at Boise mentioned the closure just before we signed off. About that time we hear one of the air service planes going into Stanley. He explained you can land on the dirt taxi way or the last half of the runway. We decided to go check it out. Don executed one of those beautiful slips to touchdown, avoiding the heavy equipment and crews on the first half of the runway and parking the plane within 300′. Yeah! We’re finally here!

The owner of the Triangle C Motel came to pick us up. Its only a ¼ mile walk down a hill to town, but much appreciated. Stanley’s population is a mere 87 people who cater to a huge world of river rafters, hikers, bikers, hunters and families on idyllic vacations. There are numerous lakes in the vicinity, hundreds of alpine hiking trails, bobsled bike rides, hot springs and famous white water rafting. Only 4 restaurants in town, a fabulous bakery, two espresso sites and rentals of all the toys you could ever use. The espresso stop Peaks and Perks provides shuttle service to trail heads or fishing holes. Its recreation heaven!

The next morning we hopped in the plane and flew back to Smiley Creek to pick up the airport van. Julia and Mark, who were staying in Ketchum, met us at the airport. They had flown into Hailey, on the south side of the Galena Pass for a music festival in Sun Valley. From their description the airport at Hailey is a pain in the butt. Between TSA regulations, $20 landing fee and $7.00/gal gas you have to really want to be there. Hugs all around to see good friends again and hear about their travels. We hiked a beautiful trail up near the pass, attended by endless wildflowers to Titus Lake. The lake is an emerald jewel tucked into magnificent glaciated peaks. It’s a place where heaven touches down.

That evening we dined at the historic Sawtooth Hotel. Live music on the patio with the sunset of the Sawtooth Mountains as a stage was a festive local affair. Footwear for most people is either cowboy boots or rafting shoes. It’s not so much a fashion statement but a necessary wardrobe item. Kids and adults were up and dancing to the mountain music of a fiddle, 2 guitars and a drummer. Lots of smiles and joy to be alive abounded.

Tuesday morning Don took off for a bobsled bike ride while Julia, Mark and I headed into the big peaks again. Your balance gets a good workout criss crossing the creeks that are running high. Two lakes, thin air and incredible views kept us loving it. A light rain and mosquitoes drove the party on.

Wednesday morning Don and I returned the airport car and jumped into our 3 wheel vehicle. The day was CAVU with cool, climbing air. It didn’t take long to pop up and thread our way through the peaks, enjoying the flight a whole bunch more. Today was a day between the monsoon waves. Even the 15kt. headwinds did not bog our spirits down. Mountain Home Muni is just a ½ hour away to pick up fuel. Then it was off and away with our spinner pointed home. It’s times like these that make you love life so much. Great friends, great fun, great flying. Cindy

Columbia Airport June 18 and 19, 2011

Excitement on the ground and in the air filled Columbia Airport for the “45th Annual Father’s Day Fly-in. Marin 99’s joined Petaluma PAPAs to make a strong presence for the North Bay Area. Seven planes and eleven people made the approximate one-hour flight on heading 081. We skimmed across the valley late Friday afternoon, avoiding the pending airshow traffic and temporary tower.

We touched down on the usual RWY 17 and made a hard right turn onto the cool 29/11 grass strip. There we had the pleasure of running our 182 tires on surface other than asphalt. We rendezvoused with fellow flyers and picked out a beautiful camping area under the shady oak trees and not too far away from the showers! This was camping at its finest. The airport put on a “burger burn” BBQ Friday night and Boy Scout Troop 570 were there providing us with great pancake breakfasts for the weekend. Some opted for food at “Pete’s” just across the highway, while others meandered the one mile jaunt into town for refreshments.

Saturday morning we staked out our front-row lawn chair seating and enjoyed the show. At 8:00 AM with the temporary tower in action we were entertained by “Snowball” the resident Stearman giving daredevil rides, warbird, vintage and experimental flybys, racecar vs. airplane race, and demos from Cal Fire. The “people mover” ferried us across the runway to enjoy the static display. The polished Electra from southern Cal was only one of the many stand-outs of the show.

Joe and I had to depart early Sunday before the planned flour bombing and spot landing activities. PAPA is putting on a flour bombing contest at the Petaluma Airport this September (in conjunction with a Poker Run.) It may have been advantageous to watch the flour drop attempts in Columbia. We practiced June 25th with three bombs at our home airport. Our closest attempt was about 40 feet. It is harder than it looks to hit that target!

Looking forward to the 46th Annual Columbia Fly-in.
Happy summer flying,

4th Glories

Very rarely do you see this gang of four so relaxed, so laid back, without an ambitious agenda on the Fourth of July. For years Julia, Mark, Don and I have been winging it far and wide, with lots of friends in tow, to sample the delights of our country on Independence Day.

This last 4th of July all we needed was a shady spot where you could dip your toes in a cool pool and let the day pass on a gentle breeze. Ambitionless we were. Due to the upcoming trip to Oshkosh we kept our fireworks celebration close to home in Nevada City at Julia and Mark’s beautiful home.

The big event was part of ‘Music in the Mountains’ summer season production of America’s great theme music. Everything from John Phillips Sousa to Aaron Copeland, marching music of the army, navy, air force and marines to the sounds of America for the last 200 years impressed the crowds.

One piece had a narration of Abraham Lincoln’s address to congress on the eve of the civil war. What a moving speech it still is! The setting for the symphonic and choral extravaganza was on a lovely sweeping lawn under the canopy of ancient fir trees.

Music in the Mountains has a 6 week schedule every summer and should be a part of our fly outs annually. It’s something you’ll always want to return to.

The next day was more laziness around the pool and pond. Julia and I took a 2 hour stroll along the canal trail just to stretch our legs. The canal was built back in the 1850s to bring water down from the high Sierras to power the hydraulic gold mining. Up until then mining was of the placer type; pan and pick.

After the transcontinental railroad was completed much of the Chinese labor force came to the foothills to create these huge water projects. The flume has a 6% grade which keeps the water moving along at a good clip. The trail adjacent to the ditch is a perfect strollable path for walking, running or biking. It is a wonderful asset to the community. The shade of the trees and the coolness of the water were a great foil to the heat building in the day. The gold country is laced with many of these ditches and trails. It would be fun to explore more of them.

Many thanks to Julia and Mark for creating a little bit of heaven. The flight back was just as smooth and clear as the flight over. What a treat to pick up a wx briefing that was less than 2 minutes. Have you ever noticed what a good mood ATC is in when the wx is clear? Great friends, great fun, great flying! –Cindy