Goodbye Lakeland… till we meet again!
Hello, can you hear me?
Ten years ago…
It’s funny how the mind plays tricks. Two days prior to our monthly dc99s flyout to Bay Bridge (W29) Airport, I found out that the aircraft I had reserved had one NAV/COMM inoperable. Since I intended to fly in VMC anyway and my destination was a mere 100 nm miles away, I said not a problem. This close to the flyout date I would be hard pressed to find a replacement aircraft considering the gorgeous weather forecast for the weekend. Moreover, I had been preparing the aircraft to be only partially loaded to enable extra passenger weight.
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“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 but this was not a cause of concern for me. The weather south was already clear all the way to Catalina island. By the time we set out at 10 am though, the fog had already lifted denying me an opportunity to depart in actual IFR. The skies were clear, which meant another perfect day for flying. The plan was to shoot my first GPS approach at Avalon in the 2004 C-172 I was flying, which contained MFD, autopilot and all the latest shebang. It was only the second time I was flying the aircraft and I had never flown a GPS approach before, but Michelle was there to help me through.
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Note: A version of this appeared on Forbes Wheels Up here.
If you are a regular at Oshkosh during Airventure, you know what I am talking about. Nine years ago, I got to take a ride in the coveted Breezy!
The air rushed at us as Mike eased the stick back. Whoa! This must be how Orville felt on that fateful day in December in Kitty Hawk when he lifted of the ground. The Breezy is no comparison to the Wright Flyer. The original Breezy was designed by Carl Unger. It is a “no cockpit” aircraft with a set of modified PA-12 wings and a continental engine. After almost 40 years of giving rides the original Breezy was donated to the EAA Airventure Museum.
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#SOAW: Seaplane Base & Balloon Launch
EAA: Spirit of Aviation Week
#SOAW: Wing Walking & Aerobatics
EAA: Spirit of Aviation Week
Seven years ago
“High wing, 1/2 mile SW from Fisk, rock your wings”
“Good rock, sir. Reaching Fisk, turn right heading 090, enter left base to Runway 36L.”
“High wing approaching Fisk be ready to turn now and monitor tower on 126.6.
Good Morning. Welcome to the show!”
It was right after our return from or during our very successful flight to The Bahamas, that Linda and I decided we were ready for another challenge: How about Oshkosh during AirVenture?
Normally, I don’t make any personal commitments if I can help it, during the last week of July. Professional commitments, as well as unexpected events, are a whole different matter and take precedence over everything else. Each year, I am never really sure if I can make it to Oshkosh until the last minute. So Camp Scholer, a drive-in camping area near the convention grounds, is absolutely perfect. For you never need to worry about not finding a spot to pitch your tent and call it home for the duration of your stay.
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Weekly inspiration and ideas here! As aviation educators, we are not only are the front-line troops that mold all future pilots. We are also the most visible ambassadors for any growth in the aviation community. Some new person is going to show up at your local airport and they will be directed to the flight…Please Be An “Aviation Ambassador!” — Aviation Ideas and Discussion!
There was something in the air that night
The stars were bright, Fernando
They were shining there for you and me
For liberty, Fernando
“Cleared for the Fernando Five Arrival,” said the SOCAL Controller.
What…. OMG. I was almost freaking out. I thought they used Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs) to manage airline traffic going into major airports. Why does ATC want me to fly this route? I hadn’t really planned for this.
It was Spring of 2005. Grace and I were newly minted instrument rated pilots anxious to try our new skills. The day was a picture-perfect California spring day. Couldn’t ask for a better day to practice instrument flying skills as we planned our trip to the Southwest Section 99s meeting in Van Nuys, Southern California. We had both gotten our instrument ratings the previous year. Most of my flying since getting my IFR rating was to file and fly IFR.
There was a drastic change in how I recorded my flights in my logbook since that fateful day almost a year back in May of 2004 that recorded my Instrument Check ride with the added notes “It’s finally over!”. Most of my entries began with “Crepe 3 FRAMS” or “Crepe 3 PRB” depending on the destination and direction of departure for my flight. On this fateful day the flight record was
Crepe 3 D>RZS Fernando Five VNY ILS R16R
While during the past year, I had mastered punching in the departure procedure into the flight plan, I had never flown an arrival procedure yet. The departure procedure was always easier since it was assigned during the departure clearance while still on the ground with ample time to insert it into the flight plan. Crepe 3 was the most frequently used Standard Instrument Departure (SID) at SBP for departing aircraft.
Grace quickly sifted through the stack of instrument charts we had to pull up the Fernando Five Arrival (FIM.FERN5) chart as I tried to keep the aircraft straight and level. Since we were heading to San Marcus VOR (RZS) direct, this would require us to fly the OHIGH transition (OHIGH.FERN5). First the 087-radial outbound from RZS to OHIGH thence Filmore VOR (FIM) radial 267 direct FIM. Then the notes say:
LANDING VAN NUYS RWY 16: Via FIM R-053 to UMBER INT, then via I-VNY localizer. Expect ILS RWY 16R
Watch your altitude. Watch your heading. I kept reiterating to myself. This was serious business. Flying under IFR requires pilots to maintain their altitude within 200ft and heading within 10 degrees. While flying IFR departures and enroute cruise flight seems fairly relaxed, arrival and approach flight is whole lot more complex and complicated. Not only due to the high density air traffic but also because of the step down altitudes to ensure safe descent to the airport environment, the frequent heading changes to orient the aircraft towards the airport, and transition to the approach procedures such as the localizer or instrument landing system (ILS). It was the first time either of us was flying a STAR and the first time flying into Van Nuys (VNY) airport which is considered the busiest General Aviation (GA) airport in the National Airspace System (NAS). Furthermore, it is in the busy LA Basin area. It was nerve racking, but we came out of it unscathed with the ultimate prize of flying the first STAR under our belt. Exhilarating!
That was not the end of the exhilaration. During that very memorable SWS meeting we got to visit Caltech and NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), saw Mars Rover exhibits: Spirit and Opportunity. That year they were the two most popular rovers on everyone’s minds as they had successfully completed their mission in April 2004. Although the original mission was for three months, the life of the rovers continued for much longer. Communication with Spirit ceased in May 2012 after being stuck in a sand trap for two years and couldn’t be rescued. Last year, in February 2019, NASA finally declared the Opportunity mission over after losing contact with it since June 2018.