Crater Lake was formed as result of the collapse of the volcano, Mount Mazama many, many years ago. Mount Mazama belongs to the Cascade range and was built over a long period of almost 400, 000 years. The caldera that Crater Lake is composed of, is supposed to have been created almost 6,000 or 8,000 years ago.
I had the distinct pleasure of both flying this route as well as driving it from Northern California. Believe me, each experience has it’s own advantage. For example, seeing Crater Lake from the air provides the most stunning views of the bluest of blue waters. On the other hand, driving up to Crater National Park and trekking down the slope of the Mount Mazama to the water’s edge provides views of deep, blue , clear water, and sheer cliffs surrounding the lake of such immeasurable beauty, it is hard to make a choice.
“You have to go down to 350 feet for the flyby,” I reminded gently. “I am not going any lower“, pat came the response while Grace stayed steady at 400 feet. “We’ll be disqualified if we are not at or below 200 feet for the flyby,” I said a trifle forcefully.
As we lifted off from the runway, looking out of the window a few hundred feet above the ground, the sight below was quite breathtaking, with aircraft, canopied tents, and people scattered around the airport. It was the busiest time of the year for the people of Oshkosh. I wished I had taken this flight in the middle of the week rather than the last day of Airventure 2009. The crowds were thinning as the end of the convention approached. Still, the sight was impressive from under the wings of the Ford Tri-Motor as we looped around Lake Winnebago over the Seaplane base and back again.
A year has gone by and it is that time of the year again, and the destination foremost in all pilots’ minds is Oshkosh, WI. The Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) annual Fly-In Convention hosted each year in the last week of July is fast approaching. Year after year, aviation enthusiasts from all over the world return to Oshkosh to enjoy and share in one week of unfettered joy and celebration of aviation.
There are many ways to get to Oshkosh: flying, ride sharing, driving or commercial flight. Flying into Oshkosh airport (OSH) is an adventure in itself, and requires careful planning and preparation. The EAA website has a rich source of information to help plan your trip. Getting there is half the fun, where to stay is another important issue. Many easily accessible accommodations go quickly. Most people start planning at least six months to a year in advance. There are many choices for boarding such as dormitory style rooms, hotels, bed and breakfasts, renting a local house or room or camping. If you fly in you can camp near your aircraft. If you drive in or fly commercially, there is ample camping space available. If like me you are a last-minute planner, unable to commit well in advance for a week or weekend in Oshkosh, there is always room at Camp Scholler.
This week brought back memories of my trip to Mojave one warm summer day, eons ago, back in 2004. In a historic first commercial space flight, Mike Melville, aboard SpaceShipOne and WhiteKnight, made it to the edge of space to experience the brief moment of weightlessness.
This week also brought back my many planned but unsuccessful trips to Florida to watch a launch. Back in 2010 when NASA announced the end of Space Shuttle Flights, I remember the unsuccessful trip of waiting in Florida for Discovery’s last flight. I never got to see the launch.
Then there was the time, I made it to KSC one fine morning to watch the launch of Orion. After hours of waiting, the mission was scrubbed and launched the next day which of course I missed.
On July 11th, VSS Unity, a SpaceShipTwo category, rocket powered crewed spaceplane with 6 people on board including Richard Branson, made the successful trip to the edge of space and successfully returned.
Ten days later, Jeff Bezos along with two two history-making passengers: 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, the oldest person to fly in space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student who is the youngest ever to fly in space blasted off to the edge of space aboard New Shepard and successfully returned to earth.
Seems eons ago that SpaceShipOne paved the way to commercial space flight, but the last ten days and the two trips definitely are key milestones that will usher in the next era of commercial space flight that will open the door for many to reach the edge of space: go where very few men and women have gone!
1001, 1002, 1003… stop left turn and level off. Didn’t quite work as planned, I thought. I overshot again. Try one more time 1001, 1002. Stop right turn and level off. Almost there, just a little bit correction to the left this time. I wondered what the Center folk were thinking with my zigzagging attempts of flying along the airway.
“You need to watch the compass when your course matches and try to fly that heading,” suggested Michelle, “What are the compass rules?” she queried, as we racked our brains to remember all the nice acronyms that our instructors had rammed down our throats. “ANDS,” she remembered triumphantly. “Accelerate North, Decelerate South.” I interjected. “And of course UNOS, Undershoot North, Overshoot South”.
Quaint fishing village. Art Galleries. Shops. and so much more.
Even the name sounds quaint… like a town out of a story book!
Half Moon Bay (HAF) is a delightful town in the North Coast of California. Less than 30nm by car from the San Francisco, it is easily accessible by car or airplane. More fun by the latter.
Pacific Coast Freeway or Cabrillo Freeway as it is known in these parts meanders as it winds its way south through Monterrey, Carmel and the Big Sur Coast, continuing south through beautiful Central Coast, San Simeon, Cambria, Morro Beach, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and further south to San Diego and beyond. It is the most driven road out west for it’s pristine beauty. Most tourists stop over on their way south at the famous Lone Pine Tree golf course and the town of Carmel as they make their way south along the scenic Pacific Coast. Art Galleries abound. Quaint local restaurants and shops grace the streets.
It has been 4 months and 8 days since my last flight. The first time ever that I let such a long gap between my flights happen. It is good to be back in the air and in control!
Over the last decade I have had a total of 5 flight reviews. Each had it’s unique flavor to it. For, each CFI has his or her own style. Each different, yet a good experience. While some might consider it a waste of time or wish to go through with it quickly and at minimum cost, I have always enjoyed a detailed flight review. After all safety begins with the pilot and I always want to be sure I am staying sharp and safe.
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 🙂
After a hiatus of almost 6 months, the dc99s kicked off their flying season with a flight to Lewisburg (LWB) WV. It was one of those days when the forecast weather was glorious at the departure airport: 80s with sunny skies with a chance of rain in the afternoon which is common on most days during summer in the east coast.
Debbie and I set off in her C182 G1000. The decision was last minute. Since her aircraft was off for maintenance. Given the glorious weekend weather we pushed our monthly flyout to Sunday so her aircraft would be back in action and also not to overlap the International Learn to Fly day.
We departed Frederick Airport (FDK) to clear, blue, warm skies. Before we knew it, 30 miles out we hit dark gloomy skies with rain bearing clouds! Wasn’t this supposed to be one of those glorious summer days? Unsure what lay ahead I prompted Debbie to turn around 180 degrees. Fortunately her C182 G1000 was equipped with Weather, and Traffic information. Looking at the rain cells and considering our options, we plotted a route to circumvent those cells. A little longer route but still do able. So we pressed on. What looked impossible in that instant, watching Debbie navigate and see her comfort zone, I knew she was okay with flying through a little rain and dark gloomy weather. “Look below,” she said,” we are still VFR.
We lucked out this past weekend. I had planned a flyout to Blue Ridge Airport and the weather actually was perfect! Unfortunately the holiday weekend meant there were fewer pilots interested in the flight. But Gert and I had the aircraft reserved all day long and there were opportunities to fly, grab a vegeburger, collect stamps and maybe shoot approaches!
We set off as usual a little later than planned. I don’t remember a time I left ahead of schedule. This time, I had somehow unknowingly filed FLUKY -> HEF as opposed to HEF->FLUKY. And living inside the SFRA meant that ATC couldn’t let us depart without a valid flight plan in place or refile the flight plan for us. This meant we had to shut off the engine, call in a new flight plan and wait the necessary few minutes for the flight plan to arrive at the tower.