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!
Okay, by now I have been to Tangier multiple times.
I even got the coveted VA Ambassador Stamp last October. As it happens although our original plan was to fly to Ocracoke Island and First Flight airport, we had to change our plans due to my school schedule.
Instead, we ended up flying to Tangier again on an impromptu flight with the flight out group (FOG) on Sunday. Five aircraft with 14 people ended up at Tangier for lunch at Lorraine’s this holiday weekend. There was much camaraderie, hanger flying, and excellent flying, since the weather was perfect, and the airspace clear.
Tangier on the other hand is still doing none the better since obviously, whatever anyone says and does, it will disappear one day. We might be okay calling it fake news, ignore climate change and science, and live in a world of alternate facts.
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 🙂
“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 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.