Flying is everything to me. After every new adventure, I start thinking and planning for the next one 🙂
There are some adventures, that are so out of this world, that I don’t mind repeating them… again and again!
Some time ago, I posted my Favorite Destinations!
Here are the latest ten of my favorite destinations, that I have done at least twice, if not more, so far!
And, I will very likely do them again 🙂
Seems like Old Times
“Cutlas 02B, cleared R29, straight out”
We were off, with familiar sights ahead of us: pristine blue skies, three stacks, Morro Rock and the wide blue ocean.
Straight out, as we departed runway 29 and headed straight for the ocean, following highway 1. Off somewhere to the left, was my home, when I last lived in these parts. It was clear and calm, with unlimited visibility. The sky blended into the ocean and the Cuesta Ridge, Irish Hills, Islay Hills, and Bishop Peak, were all clearly visible. The lack of rains and drought, had rendered the hills brown. Yet, the clear blue skies and turquoise blue Pacific Ocean, provided uninterrupted and unending vistas.
We headed out to the ever familiar Morro Rock, before turning towards North, hugging the coastline. The three stacks clearly visible as was the Morro Rock. We traced the coastline following the Cabrillo Highway past Estero Bay and further north to San Simeon. Circling Hearst Castle is something every pilot did in the Central Coast. Talk about circling about a point!
We headed out further north to Point Pedras, circling the lighthouse, before turning south, keeping the coastline to our left and heading back, looking for seals. For old times sake, I had opted to shoot the ILS R11 approach in VFR conditions. We headed straight for CREPE intersection, while I attempted to re-familiarize myself with flying an instrument approach procedure without an on board GPS, using ILS and VOR only.
Once I got the handle of things, the approach itself was fairly straight-forward. Leveling off a little before HASBY intersection at 1,200 ft, I circled and set up for downwind 29 with short approach. Landing on R29 brought back fond memories of the innumerable landings I had made here…
I learnt to fly in SLO. The last time I flew with my primary flight instructor Michelle G was back in 2002. The last time I flew with my friend Michelle TG was back in 2005 and the absolute last time I flew here was back in April 2009 when I got my BFR and helped paint the Compass Rose!
Some photographs by Michelle Torres Grant
I learned to fly in California, at a small GA airport with a control tower. My first tower tour was during my private pilot training. I don’t remember the exact time line, but sometime after I soloed and before my check-ride, I climbed the many steps up to the top with my instructor to meet the local Air Traffic Controllers(ATC) and learn more about what they did, what they saw and what they expected of me as a pilot flying over their airspace. In those days my local tower still operated with little automation. Controllers looked out the windows with powerful binoculars to spot traffic and provide separation in the terminal area.
Since then, I have made the trip many times with other fellow pilots to learn the changing practices over time. I watched my local control tower upgrade from no automation to increasing automation, availability of radar service, and even the implementation of the Standard Terminal Area Replacement System (STARS) which provided them with latest automation software and computer screens that replaced the old scopes from the 70’s. While the binoculars are not gone and still used as needed, the latest automation provided additional information at their finger tips to not only help them in their jobs but also to better help pilots.
I think interaction with the ATC is such a key aspect of being a pilot. In my time, I have had many opportunities to not only visit the local control tower, but also interacted with the controllers at a personal level. Controllers seemed really interested in helping pilots understand what was expected of them. As a member of a very active 99s chapter, I have had occasion to organize or attend safety seminars that included ATC. Each year as airport day activities, we volunteered to enable the general public take Tower Tours in small groups. I have had numerous occasions to visit Terminal Radar Control and Center facilities to better understand the kind of support they provided to VFR pilots.
I almost took it for granted that private pilots visited control tower at their airport with their instructors to better understand the air traffic control aspect of flying. Just as I took it for granted, that an instructor hopped out of the aircraft and went up to the tower, while the student pilot taxied timidly off to conduct his/her solo flights.
So it came to me as a surprise, when I found out recently that instructors don’t necessary visit the tower, even though it exists at the airport. True it is not needed. A handheld radio will suffice. For some reason, I felt a little disappointed.
I have always been curious to see the faces behind the voices, to give a name and a face to the person I was talking to. While one trip might not do the trick, I am happy that after wondering about it, I finally made it up the tower to make some new friends in high places at my local airport.
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 later.
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.
Half Moon Bay (HAF) is one of the most frequented airports for it’s pristine location along the CA coastline. Be it a $100 hamburger run, annual whale watching fun or part of the scenic SFO Bay tour. Paralleling the coast, HAF is a delightful airport to land in. Park and walk over to the town of Princeton by the sea. Don’t be surprised if you run into streets such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Stanford and more.
Flying here is always fun. I have flown here many times — be it to take my sister to lunch with the SCV99s for the annual whale watching fun in January or meeting fellow SLO99s from the central coast for lunch. Although there are many alternatives, Mezza Luna comes to mind as a wonderful $500 vegeburger place!
If you haven’t done it, make it there… it is a must do airport!
Over the last several years I have come to establish some traditions of my own: flying on New Year’s Day, 4th of July and First Flight Day i.e. Dec 17th. Be it a local flight, a scenic flight, dual flight instruction or a simulated flight in a BATD device.
Each of the days has a distinctive significance: Dec 17th marks the momentous occasion of the first powered flight by the Wright brothers. It is a day that most pilots take to the skies to celebrate and commemorate this historical moment. 4th of July is Independence Day- a day to celebrate freedom from oppression by taking to the skies. Last but not the least is New Years Day – a day of new beginnings, a day promising a fresh start, with a clean slate. What better way to celebrate than to take to the skies?
Revisiting Old Stomping Grounds…
The Spirit of San Luis was as it always was. Sitting on the outside deck it could have been business as usual: a normal SLO99s meeting or a gathering before the traditional Cookies to the Tower or a Hanger Party of some extraordinary Aviatrix in the Central Coast planning the next big event.
Everyone have their demons.
Some people are afraid of flying. They rather prefer to drive, stuck in traffic for hours than get on an aircraft. Period. There is SOAR, fear of flying program that includes DVDs for people with fear of flying. The term used to describe this is Aviophobia.
Know Your Limitations!
So began another exciting day or must I say night of my flying adventure. Let me confess right at the outset, I have never been and will never be keen about night flying. I am the kind of person that likes to see where I am going. Clear blue skies and a fine sunny day is my kind of day to flying the friendly skies. That being said, I do like to venture out, once every now and then, with a seasoned Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) in the right seat to experience, the deeper darker forces that come into play and make flying all that more challenging than it already is, as is posed by flying a night IFR flight in actual conditions.
When I heard that the San Fernando Valley 99s were planning a flyin to Edwards Air Force Base, I jumped at the marvelous opportunity to land on the base at one of the longest runways. Anne and I signed up promptly and waited impatiently for the day to arrive. With paper work done and explicit instructions on what to do and not do on the day at hand we were ready to fly!