When I heard that the San Fernando Valley 99s were planning a flyin to Edwards Air Force Base, I jumped at the marvelous opportunity to land on the base at one of the longest runways. Anne and I signed up promptly and waited impatiently for the day to arrive. With paper work done and explicit instructions on what to do and not do on the day at hand we were ready to fly!
The day dawned, a little chilly but crispy clear. Ann and I arrived at the airport by 8 am but were dismayed to find the aircraft laced in a sheet of frost and ice. Being January, the night temperatures had fallen to near freezing. The next hour we worked diligently on scraping the frost off the aircraft with whatever came to mind: hands, plastic cards, and finally some loaned towels. Neither of us had come prepared for such a situation. Finally an hour later than planned we departed SBP airport on our way to Lancaster airport where we would rendezvous with other aircraft joining the party before making the shot hop to Edwards in preplanned order, following a preplanned route at a predetermined time slot. We raced onwards, using our cell phone to call people to say we are on our way and just in the nick of time arrived at Lancaster airport, excited, relieved and thrilled to make the slot!
Anne and I were one of the last to depart Lancaster. We had specific instructions on the altitude and route to take and the position to make first contact with Edwards Tower. It was one of those incredible trips one makes that is unforgettable. Landing on one of the longest runways I ever landed I thought of the times of the shuttle landings and all the other ones. It was definitely a indelible memory etched in stone. One not to be forgotten. Being in a 172 I could have landed 4 times over on the same runway in the same attempt: it was that long!
Landing there, and walking the flight line was an incredible journey. We attended the required safety seminar before heading back. It was one of those incredible journeys meant to last forever!
Note: Rewritten… since I somehow lost the original. Original article appeared in the Southwesterly and the Slipstream. If you have a copy please email it to me!