Day in Solvang
When I think of Santa Ynez (IZA), the first thing that comes to mind is the Chumash Casino. The advertisements on TV were so frequently aired that one couldn’t think about Santa Ynez without thinking about the Chumash Casino. But back in 2001 though, the casino was non-existent, so Solvang was foremost in mind when thinking about Santa Ynez.
Roughly a month after I got my PPL, I planned my first cross country as a pilot: to none other than Santa Ynez. A short flight, not quite 50nm, one I could easy trace following Highway 101 without getting lost. If you can imagine flying in a C152 with single nav/com, no GPS onboard or hand held, no smart phone, and a newly minted pilot, you will understand how important it was not to get lost 😊.
Although I had been doing some flying locally, it was time to spread my wings farther to new airports in search of new adventures. The plan was simple: fly to IZA and spend the day in Solvang. Just barely five miles from IZA, Solvang is a Danish village located in Santa Ynez Valley. Founded in 1911 by a group of Danes, it is home to bakeries, restaurants, and merchants offering a taste of Denmark. Many of the buildings reflect Danish architecture. But even before the Danish arrived, Santa Ynez Valley was originally inhabited by the Chumash, an ingenious and industrious people. Mission Santa Ines served as a gateway for the Chumash Indians.
As I made my plans, my only thought was to get there safely. I forgot totally to plan for the other logistics on getting to/from Solvang or even the return flight. One goal at a time, right?
The inbound flight to IZA went without hitch. After all, I was used to driving up and down the coast of CA on 101 so often, that flying a couple of thousand feet and following it seemed a piece of cake. Goal 1 achieved. As it happened I needn’t have worried about the rest. Checking in at the FBO, I ran into a pilot and when he heard my plan was to head out to Solvang, offered me a ride since he was headed that way anyway!
There is a lot to do in Solvang. Wander the avenues, shopping nooks, and walkways, or rent bikes to ride along the streets. Checkout the Santa Inez Mission, Hans Christian Anderson Museum, replica of the Round Tower from Copenhagen, windmills, Danish architecture and so much more. Relish the traditional Danish treats and gourmet food at sidewalk cafes and restaurants.
After a fun filled day, I took a cab ride back to the airport and flew back home with the experience of my first solo cross-country flight as a PPL under my belt and a boost in confidence to plan more adventures!
Ocean City, MD
It was another of those beautiful fall days: sunny and crisp. A day made for flying. It was closer to 11:00 am by the time we departed Manassas airport and set off for Ocean City, MD for our monthly flyout with the DC99s.The plan was to meet close to noon, take a ride into town for some $500 eating fun.
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A Day at the Beach
My first cross country flight training flight was to Santa Barbara airport (SBA). Although it was typical during flight training to fly to near by airports such as Santa Maria, Oceano and Paso Robles for practice, neither of those were considered sufficient to log cross country flight time. In order to satisfy the requirements for cross country flight for PPL, the distance between origin and destination has to be at least 50nm.
A few days after my solo check-off and some practice solo flights, my instructor deemed I was ready to master pilotage and cross country flying. SBA is a fairly busy airport with three runways, control tower with radar coverage, and approach/departure control. My recollection of the actual flight is vague. I do remember that it was rather hectic keeping up with the aviating, navigation and communicating required to transition into a much busier airspace and airport. I was also a tiny bit disappointed that we did not stay to explore the area or even get some lunch. I was excited and exhausted by the time we returned. This particular day was memorable not only because of the excitement of having my first dual cross country flight under my belt, but also because that evening I had the opportunity to attend the first SLO99s banquet.
SBA is a fun airport to fly into. Located along the California coast, Santa Barbara is a quaint city flanked by the Santa Ynez mountains that provide a dramatic backdrop, and the Pacific ocean. With a Mediterranean climate it is considered to be the American Riviera. It’s historic downtown is filled with white stucco buildings with red tiled roofs, with Mission Santa Barbara on a nearby hill reflecting its Spanish heritage, and upscale boutiques and restaurants. Santa Barbara is also home of the University of California, Santa Barbara.
A few months after I got my PPL, I did return to SBA for some lunch and a day at the beach. While there are several amenities in the airport terminal building, tie down the aircraft and take the short trail that leads to Goleta beach where there are picnic tables, cafes, fishing pier, paddle sports, and other amenities. Pack a picnic basket or try a cafe for that coveted vege or hamburger. And don’t forget to pack your beach towel and sunscreen!
My first recollections of this historical place dates back several years ago when I visited Busch Gardens with college friends. That was a memorable trip that will always be fresh in my mind.
It was supposed to be a partly sunny, but a beautiful fall Saturday. But of course when has the weather forecast been accurate? It was overcast at 4000 ft at HEF and there were scattered to overcast skies along the way. Being instrument current I was less worried about that. My friend, Laith and I, set off for the 99s flyout to Williamsburg (JGG) with anticipation and excitement. With terrain not a factor, we flew in content at 2500 ft. There were dashes of color in the trees sometimes purple, at times orange, rendering the landscape in vibrant hues. The partly cloudy skies, with the sun peeking in between, the rays of sunlight striking the still fresh green earth, the lakes and rivers in startling blue colors all presented the most amazing landscape along the way.
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This past weekend marked 10 years since I moved my blog to WordPress back in October 2010. Here is a fun flight from 2010 to commemorate the joy of flying from November 2010. Enjoy!
Island Hopping in the Keys
I had been mentally planning this trip for almost a year. Since last December to be precise. So when the opportunity arose to visit Florida I went prepared: logbook, medical and pilot’s license in hand. The checkout at the local flight school was a breeze. An hour in the air and I was licensed (again) to fly in Florida.
It was a little closer to 10 o’clock the next day, when my friends and I set off. I had reviewed the route with my instructor the previous day. My instructor had indicated the previous day that the coastline clearance to transit Fort Lauderdale International Airport (KFLL) was usually at 500 ft. As expected, we departed straight out on runway eight out of Fort Lauderdale Executive (KFXE) and headed straight for the coast. I leveled off below a 1000ft. Once at the coast and cleared to transit the KFLL Class Charlie airspace we headed southwest at 500 ft.
The Class Bravo airspace of Miami airspace adjoins the Class Charlie airspace of Fort Lauderdale. With scattered clouds hovering above 2000 ft, flying around 1000 feet fortunately kept us out of the Class Bravo airspace and provided enough clearance from the clouds. We traced the coastline all the way to Homestead Air Force Base then followed highway 1 past North Key Largo, Key Largo, Isla Morada, Indian Key, Duck Key and Marathon Key. Tracing the highway all the way to Key West was the safest route for a single engine airplane.
Continue to read here.