SEZ Who?


Fly 'n Things

The earth has music for those who listen
— William Shakespeare

Sedona,  a land of timeless beauty, surrounded by magnificent, natural red rock sculptures and pristine National Forest. Standing about 4,300ft above sea level, centrally located less than two hours north of Phoenix and just two hours south of the Grand Canyon, it is one of the most spectacular secrets of the world. Erosion has sculptured this masterpiece for over 350 million years.

As we drove north, I was almost disappointed. All that we saw were pine trees and the landscape looked no different from other countrysides. When we had set off it was hot and 90 degrees.

“Isn’t early morning better for a flight?” I had asked.
“No, anytime is fine,” was the response.

Checking the forecast that morning, I wondered how the day would play out. With thunderstorms in the forecast, chances of pulling off this flight were…

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Avalon: Airport in the Sky


Fly 'n Things

“A Mediterranean resort off the coast of Southern California”
Now that my Instrument training was finally over, I was ready for new adventures. The past few months had been hectic and nerve racking. Instrument training is very demanding and I am glad that, it is finally behind me. Browsing through “Fun places to fly in California” I thought I may as well start with the first airport listed there, which happened to be Avalon. I have wanted to fly to Avalon for sometime now. I had been under the misapprehension that I needed some kind of checkout prior to attempting to fly there. As it turned out, the flying club I rented from had no such restriction.

So it happened, that my friend Michelle and I set out from SBP airport one fine September morning. Low clouds and fog had laced the morning skies over SBP rendering the airspace IFR…

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Columbia


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.

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SEZ Who?


The earth has music for those who listen
— William Shakespeare

Sedona,  a land of timeless beauty, surrounded by magnificent, natural red rock sculptures and pristine National Forest. Standing about 4,300ft above sea level, centrally located less than two hours north of Phoenix and just two hours south of the Grand Canyon, it is one of the most spectacular secrets of the world. Erosion has sculptured this masterpiece for over 350 million years.

As we drove north, I was almost disappointed. All that we saw were pine trees and the landscape looked no different from other countrysides. When we had set off it was hot and 90 degrees.

“Isn’t early morning better for a flight?” I had asked.
“No, anytime is fine,” was the response.

Checking the forecast that morning, I wondered how the day would play out. With thunderstorms in the forecast, chances of pulling off this flight were diminishing. I weighed the odds of planning something else as opposed to keeping the afternoon open and have my flying plans cancelled.

We arrived at Flagstaff (FLG) airport a little early, eager to take to the skies. Fred, the instructor at Wiseman Aviation who was going to fly with us had assured us that thunderstorms in the forecast were not a factor. In no time we preflighted and departed with me at the controls and Fred’s able guidance. He made sure to remind me about the the departure procedures, density altitude and other necessary details. Fred was also our tour guide, as he pointed out landmarks along the way – painted dessert, canyons, native American dwellings, dormant volcanoes, Sun coast crater, ski areas and more.

When I put together my flying bucket list a few years ago, I had added Sedona and Grand Canyon as an after thought. My interest had been sparked by the beautiful aerial images that Greg Brown had posted on his blog and in articles he has written over the years. Despite seeing the images, and reading the articles, nothing really prepares one for the incredible views not just from the air, but even from the ground.

We looped around flying turns about a point over key landmarks, awestruck by the natural beauty of the land, painstakingly etched over millions of years. With lots of help from Fred, I made my first landing at Sedona (SEZ). Taxing back, we took off again and this time climbed slowly to 10,500ft as we overflew Falgstaff airspace to make our way to the Flagstaff Snowbowl, a ski area very popular during the winter months. With spring here, the ski areas were deserted. But we could easily identify the ski slopes, the ski lifts and resort area.

In good time we retraced our path back to Flagstaff and all too soon the flight ended. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend looking up Wiseman Aviation. If you have the time, you can do an aircraft checkout and rent an aircraft to fly. If not, take Fred.

Sedona does have a restaurant on the field: Mesa Grill. Although we did not stop on the day of the flight for a meal, we did have breakfast there. And I highly recommend staying at the Sky Ranch Lodge that is next to the airport and within walking distance to the Mesa Grill. While there, hike the airport loop for some spectacular views of the Sedona red canyons!

And that bucket list item, I think I will leave it on.

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Words on Wednesdays: Seems like yesterday


I almost missed this milestone.

This month marked two decades since my first intro flight when I officially began my flight training. Has it really been that long?

I still fondly and vividly remember that day like yesterday, when I flew my first solo.

Or that first cross country I made to King City, that made me nervous I would get lost. Or better yet that second  long cross-country to South County airport that required two go-arounds, to the ire of others in the traffic pattern.

Or the first foray to Bakersfield after getting my ticket and getting lost for dialing in the wrong VOR frequency and having a non-functioning transponder! How about that first ILS approach into Watsonville in actual  IMC after getting my instrument rating ?

Or that time I took my friend from college to Monterey and experienced my first instrument failure.

Or the long solo cross country to satisfy the requirements for commercial pilot license.

Or the uncomfortable attempts to achieve the minimum night time requirements, or flying night solo cold turkey or the single night solo cross country flight or later the single night and IFR flight.

Seems like yesterday 🙂

See Also:

Logging Memories I

Logging Memories II

Logging Memories III

Logging Memories IV

Logging Memories V

Logging Memories VI

 

Fresh on Fridays: More Falwell


Courtesy Gert

Yes! Finals are over!


See you in 2018!

$500 Vegeburger: Cape May


 After a fun evening and morning spent with family and friends, my copilot and I reconvened a little before noon at Republic Airport for the return trip back to the Mid Atlantic. Aircraft fueled and preflighted, we set off north this time. The plan was to circumvent the busy NY airspace around JFK and LGA airports from the northeast and fly down the Hudson River from the north heading south before flying back home.

The airwaves were quieter on Easter Sunday and the air smooth as we made our way south. There was not a cloud in sight but sadly haze still clung around the area preventing crisp, crystal clear photographs and videos. We flew southbound reporting all the check points along the way: Alpine Tower, GWB, Intrepid, Clock and Statue of Liberty. We descended lower to 800 ft as we practiced our turns about the point over the Statue of Liberty.

Tracing the eastern New Jersey shore past Long Beach Island, Atlantic City, Ocean City and Sea Isle City we landed at Cape May, the southern tip of New Jersey a little after 2:00 pm. Cape May Airport (KWWD) is a general aviation airport with 2 major runways.

Once a Naval Air Station, it is currently a civilian airport and houses the Aviation Museum in Hanger 1. The Flight Deck Diner is located in the main terminal building and open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm. Unfortunately, we had forgotten to check the operating hours of the restaurant, after feeding the aircraft at the self serve fuel station, my copilot and I headed home, sans any veg(ham) burger. If you did get one at Cape May, drop me a line 🙂

Flying in the 2000s


“The year 2000 marked not just a new decade but also a new century. The previous century saw the birth of powered, heavier-than-air flight and the amazing development of this world-changing technology. The 20th Century also saw the horrors of two world wars, the Great Depression, the tension of a cold war, the Civil Rights movement, the space race, the spread of democracy, the rise of the internet, and significant advancement for women.

It is unlikely the first decade of the 21st Century will be considered any type of Golden Age. September 11th, 2001 — more simply known as “9/11″ — was a day of tragedy, keenly felt by all of us for whom flying is an integral part of our lives”

Quoted from the April 2017 Aviatrix Aerogram

 

Flying was lighthearted, fun and innocent until 9/11. That changed everything. Not immediately, but in the months and years following that tragic event. Living in California the impact was not as strong, but still prevalent.  I am more cautious of what I say and how I behave in the wake of 9/11.

Although I flew three or four times back in 1998, my first official flying lesson was in August 2000 and I got my private pilot certificate in May 2001, and Instrument rating in May 2004. Although I started my first round of Commercial flight training in fall 2006, I am yet to complete it.

I had a terrific support group with members from my local 99s chapter (SLO99s). Several of us learnt to fly at the same time. We did cross-country flights together, interacted with controllers and other pilots to organize events: we sponsored discovery flights, mentored high school girls, supported airport day events such as Tower Tours, organized safety seminars, and sponsored scholarships.

Fun Flyouts from the 2000s

  • Flew the legendary Palms to Pines Air race from Santa Monica, California, to Bend, Oregon, and back. What a fantastic trip!
  • Flew into Edwards Air Force Base, organized by the San Fernando Valley 99s.
  • Flew to Lancaster Airport for the Southwest Section (SWS) Meeting, visiting NASA Dryden and Scaled Composites and surreptitiously touching SpaceShipOne before its historic first flight into space and history.
  • Flew to Catalina Island. What fun we had landing at this airport!
  • Flew my first foray into the clouds after getting my instrument rating to Watsonville for lunch with the SLO99s.
  • Flew to Columbia for another memorable SWS meeting, camped under the aircraft, and got a chance to fly a Taylorcraft.
  • Flew to Van Nuys under instrument flight rules and flew my first standard terminal arrival route (STAR) after getting my Instrument rating, making it to another fantastic SWS Meeting. Visited Jet Propulsion Lab.
  • Flew the San Francisco Bay tour several times with friends and family members.
DCF 1.0

Note: A version of this appears in the April 2017 Aviatrix Aerogram