Camping, Gold Mines, Seaplanes and Taylorcrafts
I learnt to fly in a Cessna 152 (C152), a two-seater high wing aircraft. It is interesting to note as I peruse my logbook, that as I upgraded to a 4-seater after obtaining my license, it was a Piper Archer (PA-181) that was the first aircraft that I got checked out in, which also allowed me to fly the Piper Warrior (PA-161). Although, I did eventually get checked out in a Cessna 172 (C172) six months later, it was almost 1-2 years later, that I started flying the C172 more frequently, not the least because they were newer and better equipped than the Piper aircraft available at the flight school.
It was Spring of 2003, when Grace and I set off in a C172, north to Columbia Airport (O22) for our very first attendance at the 99s Southwest Section Meeting. Columbia airport is located in the foothills, northwest of Yosemite National Park. Airport elevation is 2120 ft and there are two runways with the longest one 4675 x 75 ft. Definitely a challenge for someone who often flies into airports with long and wide runways. This can be compounded, especially summertime, when density altitude can further add to the challenge. It was most definitely a challenge for me. Proof?
Logbook entry reads:
“Perfect day! 2 go-arounds. Flew formation in Taylorcraft with Charles Ross”
Columbia airport also quite conveniently has a campground attached for that fly in and camping events. While the Section Meeting itself was hosted at a nearby hotel, Grace and I planned to camp by our aircraft. It was the first weekend of May (Mother’s Day) and a group of Taylorcraft owners had flown in for their annual fly-in and camping event and we had good company.
The highlight of the Section Meeting was the Safety Seminar Seaplane Operations out of High Sierra Lakes and attendees had the option to sign up for a flight if interested. The seminar certainly sparked an interest in Seaplane lessons, and I hoped to return sometime in the future to get that rating at Sierra Lakes. Another highlight of the trip was the tour of a Gold Mine.
Visiting Columbia is like traveling back in time to the sights, smells, and sounds of a nineteenth century mining town. Columbia State Historic Park, located in the heart of the California Mother Lode, is a living gold rush town featuring the largest single collection of existing gold rush-era structures in the state. In 1850’s, after gold was first discovered thousands of people arrived and the town grew in size. It is noted that about $150 million in gold was removed from the surrounding hills between 1850 and early 1900s.
About that formation flight? Grace and I had made friends with our Taylorcraft neighbors and on Sunday morning, had the opportunity to fly with Charles in his Taylorcraft while he and his friend wanted to do some practice formation flying. It was a perfect spring day and Charles even let me do some flying, although he thought my taxiing skills sucked!
All in all, a perfect weekend with a lot of fun: Camping, Gold Mines, Seaplanes and Taylorcrafts.