Monday, September 28, 2009

SoCal to NorCal in One Fell Swoop

If you've been following my blog, you know that I've been "down south" near Los Angeles working my former school district. I flew down on Alaska Airlines to make sure I got there on time, while Wayne followed a few days later in our Piper Arrow 997. Today, we started back north together.

We departed Cable Airport in Upland at 8:00 am, trying to beat the heat. The CableAir FBO is no longer in operation (a sign of tough times for general aviation), but it's still the "world's largest family-owned public use airport." From our shaded hangar space, our good friend David sent us on our way.

After departure, Wayne contacted SoCal Approach for flight following. If you aren't familiar, air traffic controllers provide pilots with assistance and guidance between airports. In Southern California, they go by the name SoCal. With flight following, the controllers helped us identify other planes in the crowded skies over LA.

We started with partial fuel because our Piper Arrow doesn't perform optimally in the density altitude that comes with hot weather. Gas equals more weight. So, our first destination was San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (KSBP) to fill our tanks and tummies. After a beautiful flight over the farms of Ventura County, the city of Santa Barbara and the dunes of Pismo Beach, we landed. The new San Luis Jet Center took care of 997 while the Spirit of San Luis restaurant took care of us. It just happened to be Airport Appreciation Day, so we toured the planes and community resources on display.

Our second leg was from SBP to Concord in the Bay Area. Not long after departure, air traffic controllers from Los Angeles Center handed us off to Oakland Center. Often, we fly using instrument flight rules (IFR), but today was so clear we used visual flight rules (VFR). We followed the rugged coast past Hearst Castle, Big Sur and Monterey.

Just before entering airspace around San Francisco, we were handed off to NorCal, SoCal's northern cousin. The controllers made sure we didn't get in the way of the big guys taking off from SFO. The controller's electronic "eyes" (radar) are a big help to pilots. So are electronic gadgets like GPS and auto-pilots. "George" the auto-pilot and our GPS helped us identify Buchanan Field in the distance. Our final destination was the on-field Crown Plaza hotel (just over the wingtip), a very handy overnight stop with Internet access to pick up the USC vs. Washington State football game. Fight on! -- Margy


  1. I feel like I took the trip with you - or like I've been flight following. I am so sorry that I didn't e-mail you while you were down here...I thought we could do lunch but it truned out to be a really hectic week at work. I am sure your days were packed too. Have a wonderful flight the rest of the way home. I knew about SoCal but not NorCal...looking forward to learning more.

  2. Thanks for the free flight! Bet you're happy to be heading away from the heat and towards the fall weather in Powell River. Safe journey!

  3. Margy sounds like you two had a grand view of California. Bet you'll be glad to get back home. The pics are great and it made me feel as if I was on the plane with you. Thanks.

  4. Thanks for taking us all along with you on this leg of your journey. I remember Hearst Castle from when my parents took us there - I was 12 yrs old. looking forward to your next leg.

  5. Thanks for the flight following everyone. We made it home to Bellingham before the rain. It did arrive the following day as forecast.

    Tash, how is your son's flying coming? - Margy


We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy