Posted by: Robin | August 2, 2015

To Friday Harbor!

Another day, another flight! We began the day with a final breakfast (to die for!) at Abeja.

Abeja breakfast

Abeja breakfast

Oh hello yumminess!

Oh hello yumminess!

We are off to Friday Harbor today, our final destination with our flying tour of the west coast. Our flight is to take us west from Walla Walla towards Portand then north towards Seattle, ending in the San Juan Islands. One of our group had to leave and go home early, so that left Helen without a ride. We gladly took her long with us! SO now we are three! Taking off from Walla Walla, we saw a lot of the same brown terrain. We followed the Columbia River much of the way westward.

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East of Portland, we paired up with another Cirrus in our group and did some air-to-air photography of each other in front of Mt. Hood! It was a beautiful backdrop!

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Our friend took photos and video of us making a break after flying side-by-side. At 3-2-1-break, we turned away from the other aircraft and descended. Whoohooo! I managed to get one photo from our cockpit of ‘break’, but from the back, we heard Carolyn say, “I can’t lift my arms!” I guess the G-forces were a bit strong on our break!

3-2-1-BREAK!

3-2-1-BREAK!

As we turned north, we had Mount Adams on our right.

Mt. Adams

Mt. Adams

We then had to either pick up our IFR flight plan to fly above a cloud layer that developed at this point or fly below the clouds deck VFR. We opted below in order to see Mt. St. Helens.  (We knew we could get a pop-up IFR clearance if the clouds got too low for us.)

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

After all these years, there are still distinct signs of the eruption, including logs in the lake across from the volcano.

logs from eruption on right side of lake

logs from eruption on right side of lake

As we passed by, we could see the side that blew.

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And the visitor/observation center on the ridge across from it.

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After passing Mt. St. Helens, the terrain dropped off again as we made our way towards Seattle.

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We remained under the cloud deck and passed Seattle off to our right.

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And finally up to Friday Harbor on the island of San Juan (in the San Juan Islands.)

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After landing, while Helen and John went to fetch the cars, we grabbed a bite at a small bakery next to the airport.

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Then went over to San Juan Vineyard for a wine tasting.

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We finally checked into our hotel for the next two nights. Our room had a great view overlooking the harbor.

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After everyone rested up, we dressed and left for a group dinner at McMillan’s in Roche Harbor (on the other side of the island.) Roche Harbor is a big resort with various restaurants, a marina, spa, and various types of accommodations. Our dinner was in a private room on the second floor with a great view of the harbor. The food, as usual, was fantastic!

McMillan's

McMillan’s

View from dining room balcony

View from dining room balcony

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After dinner, everyone went back to the hotel in Friday harbor except us. We heard there was a flag ceremony at sunset where the flags were retired for the evening with the playing of the various national anthems of the flags represented (Canadian, Britain, 2 local flags) along with taps. Sounded interesting! Helen and John returned just in time (after dropping off the rest of the group in Friday Harbor) to watch the ceremony with us.

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We then enjoyed a particularly beautiful sunset to end our day!

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Posted by: Robin | August 1, 2015

Winging to Walla Walla

A new day of flying ahead! Today is a flight to Walla Walla, Washington on the Columbia River. As we took off from Napa Valley, we had out final glimpses of this region:

Our trip took us over some interesting terrain, relatively dry:

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The terrain began to rise and we caught our first glimpse of Mt. Shasta in the distance:

Mt. Shasta from afar!

Mt. Shasta from afar!

As we neared, we pointed the nose a few degrees left to pass, but get a good look:

Hello, Mt. Shasta!

Hello, Mt. Shasta!

Not too long after passing, we came to Crater Lake, a beautiful sapphire blue lake atop a peak:

First sight!

First sight!

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Our next find was the Newberry National Volcanic Monument near Bend, Oregon. Again, beautiful clear blue lakes, two of them, in a crater atop Newberry volcano.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Once again, terrain became arid, but striking.

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We were in the homestretch into Walla Walla and had picked up a great 26kt tailwind!

WooHoo! Great winds!

WooHoo! Great winds!

Final look from air into Walla Walla was very brown and dry. We heard numerous calls from the airport about helicopters and realized it was for the wildfires in the area.

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When we landed, we indeed saw helicopters with buckets of water taking off.

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Made it!

Made it!

This evening, we would be staying at a winery, Abeja, which is only open for tours to people staying there at their bed and breakfast. It has been totally renovated, keeping the charm of the original buildings. The short ride to the winery was beautiful!

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Our rooms were wonderful! Carolyn and I had 3 floors: first floor lining room/kitchen

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Second floor, Carolyn’s bed and bath

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And top floor was my bed and bath.

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The view from our back balcony was of a hillside planted with lavender!

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After everyone was settled in, we had a winery tour scheduled. We all met in the big barn where our guide told us some history of the winery. The owner, Ken, came in and also gave us some history of their purchase and renovations.

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Heather (John’s girlfriend) set up the top of a barrel with some cheese and crackers from Seattle for us to enjoy with our wine tastings. Heather drove down from Seattle with a photographer who took photos of us arriving at the airport and spent the evening taking photos as well. One of the cheeses was called ‘Cirrus’ and was a lovely camembert style cheese.

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Heather describing the cheese she selected!

The guide described and let us taste a number of wines, but one, Viognier, she walked us outside and right to the source vines! Quite a nice touch!

The source!

The source!

Viognier grapes

After a little more tasting and looking around, we finished our wines and enjoyed chatting together.

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Before dinner, we took a walk around the property and enjoyed this lovely setting. This is another place on my ‘visit again’ list!

Gardens

Gardens

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Before dinner, we sat out on the patio next to the garden and relaxed. We noticed the constant passing above of helicopters for the fires. At this time, it was up to 5200 acres on fire, with only 5% contained. Fortunately moving away from Abeja.

water mule

water mule

Our dinner was outdoors, with grilled fresh vegetables, Kobe beef, and quail. Yes, it was delish! Add some good Abeja wine and the meal was complete!

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While we sat around into the evening, Heather presented each of the women with a small box wrapped in ribbon. She made, yes MADE, each of  us a gift!

Wine glass markers!

Wine glass markers!

I think Heather is a keeper!

While finishing the last of the wine, we watched the sun set over the vineyards. Another great day!

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Posted by: Robin | August 1, 2015

California Dreamin’

Our second day began with breakfast at the hotel and then a walk over to the ferry to get back to Torrance and our planes. The ceiling never lifted and was still low in the morning, so it was a good decision to park in Torrance and ferry over.

Avalon and low clouds in the morning.

Avalon and low clouds in the morning.

Our ferry arrived and we said farewell to Catalina!

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On the ferry ride back, Helen and John briefed us on the flight to Napa, including flight plans, negotiating the LA airspace, filing flight plan, asking for and flying the San Francisco Bay ‘tour’, and arrival in Napa. Our Uber drivers picked us up as soon as we arrived in port and off to the airport.

Quick pre-flight, loaded flight plan, and started sweating getting the clearance after my experience from the day before arriving in this busy airspace!

Carolyn, ready to go!

Carolyn, ready to go!

I was second to go and ready to get that clearance. I only had to ask to have it repeated once 🙂 After taxiing to runway, off we went….immediately right over LAX!

LAX!

LAX!

As we turned out over the coast we had some stunning views along the trip north:

Los Angeles - Playa Del Rey

Los Angeles – Playa Del Rey

An Luis Obispo

Coast, San Luis Obispo

Coast, San Luis Obispo

San Simeon

San Simeon

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Big Sur

Big Sur

As we approached San Fransisco, we did some more briefing on our air-to-air frequency regarding the Bay Tour. We were excited to get down for some close and personal photos of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge!

ATC cleared me for the Bay Tour, but held me at 5500 for traffic from SFO. By that time, clouds had rolled in and I couldn’t tell if we could get lower than the clouds to fly under. Our Bay Tour:

Bay Tour

Bay Tour

More Bay Tour

More Bay Tour

So, we cancelled our Bay Tour request and headed off to Napa. As we passed the blanket of clouds, we did get SOME Bay views.

Northern part of the Bay

Northern part of the Bay

Crossing to Napa:

Napa straight ahead.

Napa straight ahead.

After we all landed, we were handed box lunches and waited until we were all down, then loaded into our rentals for our hotel. The scenery along the drive:

Stag's Leap!

Stag’s Leap!

Our hotel in Napa, Auberge du Soleil,  was utterly magnificent! Definitely on my ‘go again’ list!

LOL! Our mailbox outside our room! Mr. Robin Turner ?!

LOL! Our mailbox outside our room! Mr. Robin Turner ?!

Room, Auberge du Soleil

Room, Auberge du Soleil

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from our balcony

from our balcony

Goodies in the room, including wine!

Goodies in the room

We immediately enjoyed the bottle of wine on the balcony, overlooking the vineyards!

Salut!

Salut!

After relaxing, we went back up to main house and enjoyed a fabulous private meal with the group. What an awesome evening!

Me, Helen, Carolyn

Me, Helen, Carolyn

Carolyn and Ken

Carolyn and Ken

Group dining!

Group dining!

Our menu, including wines:

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Upon return to our room, we found a few surprises.

turn down and slippers!

turn down and slippers!

Good night tray with tea, and cocoa powder covered organic almonds

Good night tray with tea, and cocoa powder covered organic almonds

Almonds (yummo!) and directions to airport for our departure the next morning.

Almonds (yummo!) and directions to airport for our departure the next morning.

In the morning, I found my foot a bit sore and remembered that I had dropped my suitcase on my foot the day before removing it from plane:

Flying injury

Flying injury

And our farewell from Auberge du Soleil was from a trio of sheep…for all my fiber friends:

Sheep Can-Can!

Sheep Can-Can!

Another day of flying in the books!

Posted by: Robin | July 26, 2015

And so it begins….

Our first day of the ‘real’ trip begins today. Up early to grab some breakfast (room service with a view to kill!)

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We all met in the lobby and piled into a couple cars for the airport. Everyone went into the FBO to get their planes topped with fuel then start the briefing for the flight from Vegas to Catalina, but I had to head off to the avionics shop to see about my plane. Unfortunately, the couple things they tried didn’t work, so I was facing flying again with the same problem as the day before. My maintenance folks were trying to locate a new MCU now, so we’d have to have it sent to a future stop and get it replaced. I taxied over to the FBO, had them top me off, and ran in to find the group for the briefing. We’d be heading into some pretty busy airspace (LA!) plus looked like we’d need to file IFR to get into Catalina which was currently showing super low ceilings, although should start lifting.

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John and Helen handed out a goodie bag (HUGE shopping bag full of goodies to nosh on during the trip!) plus a great backpack picnic wine carrier.

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After briefing, we all loaded the planes and started off on our first leg! First we climbed to cross the ridge and headed towards Lake Mead.

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After a little aerial tour of the lake, we headed south over Hoover Dam, following the Colorado River down the Valley. (Hey, didn’t I fly UP this route yesterday?!)

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Once we reached Lake Havasu, we turned west.

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Once we left this valley heading west, the terrain became more and more harsh and very ‘unfriendly.’ It had beauty just the same, but very unforgiving if there were to be an emergency. I checked to see if my PLB (personal locator beacon!) was handy! We had agreed upon an air-to-air frequency, and had some good conversations over this region. The frequency was also great for asking Helen and John questions, if needed.

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Checking the weather in advance of our route, it appeared as if the ceiling was not cooperating yet, so we opted to activate our IFR flight plans prior to heading into LA area. I called ATC and requested the IFR which we filed prior to leaving Vegas. I had the plan filed written for backup. When they asked me ready to copy clearance, yup I am….they then proceeded to give me a clearance that required 16 pages (yes, that’s an exaggeration….barely!) of my kneeboard paper to copy that clearance which included 3 Victor highways, 3 VORs, 5 intersections, 2 different radials, intercepting a radial (or two?!), a climb, blah blah blah….And yes, I had to ask them to repeat that please. Holy Schmoley! I fly in the east where we file ‘direct’ to wherever all the time…and that is the clearance I get. Talk about a new experience! By this point I was in solid IMC (clouds) , Helen and crew were already over by Catalina taking a peek and radioed back that we weren’t getting in, so John told us to divert to Torrance, CA. Seriously? Since we were fairly close to the coast,  it was a pretty quick changeover to loading a new destination, loading and briefing the ILS approach into Torrance, and execute said approach (still in the clouds.) I did have an issue finding the approach initially in my database since I had TOR loaded for airport instead of TOA (There is a big difference between Toronto and Torrance….) All ended well, with the correct airport and approach loaded and we made a great landing in Torrance, flying the glidescope straight down. Whoop whoop!

After we all landed, we sat in the FBO while Helen and John worked out Plan B. While hanging out we realized that we were at the home of Louis Zamperini (Unbroken.) The airfield is named for him, and there is a nice display in the terminal honoring him.

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In short order, our guides had arranged for two vehicles to fetch us at the airport and take us to a restaurant a few miles away on the coast that John knew of from a client. It was an fantastic view and the food was great! We could see Catalina and the cloud swallowing the top of it that was keeping us from our destination!

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Plan B was to hop a ferry to the island, so Helen ran back to the airport with all of our airplane keys and one of the drivers to grab our bags and lock up the airplanes (we knew at this point we’d never get in to Catalina by air that day.) By the time we were done eating she was back, we all hopped in the vehicles and off to the ferry.

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Carolyn is equally at ease in the lobby of an FBO and a ferry dock 🙂

The ride wasn’t bad, smooth and relatively quick.

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see those clouds?! They are nestled right along the top of the island…where the airport is!

We all walked the few blocks to our hotel in town, checked in, and made off for a great restaurant along the water. We spent the rest of the evening enjoying a wonderful meal together getting to know our travel mates and enjoying the island…even if we did have to travel by boat to get there!!

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Posted by: Robin | July 25, 2015

Vegas Baby!

Or not……..

Knowing there was some weather from the tropical storm that came up from Baja that could potentially be on or near our flight path, I woke up fairly early and checked the weather quickly. I still had a couple hours until we planned to depart, but started to watch how it was moving in case I had to go to Plan B.

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A few hours later, Carolyn woke up, we packed up, had breakfast and called for shuttle back to airport. The weather had mostly moved to the east of our route and what was left was dissipating as it moved. I felt confident weather would be a non-issue. After paying my fuel tab, we loaded the plane, got my clearance and taxied to the specified runway. While taxiing, I noticed 2 lights lit in my annunciator panel. (A stack of ‘idiot’ lights that usually mean something is potentially amiss.)

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the bottom two lights of the 6 red/orange blocks….

WARNING: SEMI TECHNICAL DISCUSSION FOLLOWS (heh heh heh!)

It isn’t showing in the photo above, but the bottom two are for Alt(ernator) 1 and Alt 2. (I have dual alternators.) BOTH were lit and both flashing steadily as I pulled up to stop at hold short line for the runway. I started run-up (systems checks done before taking off). Normally only alt 2 is lit (steadily) when the rpms are below 1700, so during the runup, the throttle is pushed forward to increase rpms to >1700 and then verify that alt 2 goes out (no lights should be lit.) At this point, both alt 1 and alt 2 are still on and steadily flashing. Nope, I’m not going! I radioed ground control and requested permission to do a 180 and taxi back to FBO to troubleshoot. It was blazing hot outside and with no A/C in my plane, we were drenched at this point. After parking again, we went back into the air conditioned FBO while I did some checking with my maintenance people back east.

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Carolyn making the best of it!

I ended up doing multiple starts and checks of things and reporting back to maintenance. I also alerted Helen and John from The Flight Academy to my issue. They are leading this tour, so wanted to make sure they knew we *might* not be making it to Vegas for the start of the tour! Yeah, I was pretty depressed! I do have backup analog gauges and also engine data on my MFD, so after 2 hours, between all the testing, we figured that the idiot lights were most probably false indications and that my MCU was probably going bad (kind of like the brain of my airplane, it collects and processes data from all the systems and sends that info to the cockpit.)

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analog gauges

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engine page on MFD

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PFD (Primary Flight Display)

There is an avionics shop at the airport in Vegas, we contacted them to see if they had time that day to crack my MCU open (it is sealed) and check the circuit breakers for Alt 1 an alt 2 for corrosion, clean them, an also see if the motherboard was shown signs of corrosion. MY maintenance folks back home started looking around for a new MCU to have sent ahead of me to get replaced if necessary.

Off we left for Vegas. As expected (hoped?!) my airplane flew like the Princess she is. The idiot lights continued to flash the whole way, but MFD and analog gauges showed both were charging and operating properly, so I felt much better.

The scenery along our route was interesting going up into Vegas.

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Lake Havasu

I was flying VFR with Flight Following on this leg, and was on the radio with LA center as I started approaching Vegas Class B airspace. Henderson airport sits inside the Class B airspace for McCarren airport and if flying VFR I need ‘permission’ to enter the class B airspace. LA center couldn’t get me a handoff to McCarren approach early enough for me to request permission so I had to do a 360 turn (big circle!) to stay out of Class B, which also happened to put me right into a cell of precipitation. Blah! I finally got permission to enter, crossed the last ridge and had to lose 7000 feet of altitude to get down to Henderson which is right over he ridge. We FINALLY landed and made it over to the avionics shop on the field, leaving my girl with them for the night to hopefully figure something out. for our morning departure for Catalina.

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Helen picked us up and drove os the the hotel, where we would just make the group dinner they had set up to start our tour.

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The Wynn!

After dinner we all went to the Cirque show at the Wynn. It was water based and we had fantastic seats.

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Carolyn and Helen a dinner

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Amazing

After dinner and the show, we walked over to register and get the keys to our room, then grabbed our luggage from the car. We went up to our room, and as we turned on the lights at the front door, the curtains automatically opened….to reveal floor to ceiling windows with a gorgeous view!

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It was quite a long day, with many ups and downs, hopefully I’ll get good news in the morning and be able to continue on with the group.

Posted by: Robin | July 23, 2015

Crossing Texas

Texas is big. And crossing from one edge to the other makes for a long flight! It was so interesting to see the topography change so dramatically as we flew along. It started off low, green, and lots of farmland. Once again, we had a beautiful day to fly.

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we had planned to break up the 6 hour flight into two 3 hour legs, so our first stop would be just in Odessa. As we neared Odessa, it became more arid and then oil fields as far as we could see!

imageIt also became hotter and hotter. (Not to self: A/C in next airplane would be nice……)

We landed easily in Odessa and found very new FBO with super friendly linesmen and staff.

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They had just finished a hand painted mural inside and were proud to show it off to us. They were also generous with their homemade chocolate chip cookies!

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Anxious to get moving to Tuscon, we filed our flight plan and jumped in the plane. I noticed walking to the plane my shoes were making a smacking sound, as if I had stepped in chewing gum. Turns out they were melting on the pavement. Yup, very hot. We got our clearance fairly quickly but were drenched by the time we started taxiing to the end of the runway. COuldn’t get in the air quick enough to the cooler altitudes. With the heat, the airplane performance is diminished, so we had to make a shallow climb to slowly get to altitude. We chugged along and eventually made it up to 8000, but within a few minutes, ATC requested we go to 10,000 for communication purposes as we were heading into higher terrain. I wasn’t sure we’d make it with our slow shallow climb! I think I can, I think I can. And we did.

We watched the terrain begin to rise and after a bit ATC told us there was a cell of moderate precipitation at our 12:00. He said most had been going to the left (south) of it (lower terrain) but that was closed to us with another cell on it’s heels, we need to go a few degrees right. And climb. Yoi! We added another 1000 and passed by the storm cell.

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We continued on remaining at 11,000 since we would have higher terrain ahead for the rest of the trip to Tuscon.

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Carolyn is taking her right seat seriously 😉

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We were tracking towards El Paso from Odessa which would keep us out of numerous MOAs (Military Op Areas.) We didn’t realize how close we were to Mexico until we were crossing over the VOR at El Paso.

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More interesting terrain as we continued along the border of Texas and Mexico then into New Mexico and finally into Arizona.

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Lots of radio and avionics work along the way. (Chart for Tuscon airport info on MFD.)

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As we neared Tuscon, we had to remain high as it sits on the other side of some high ridges. It is also side by side with an Air Force Base. Since it really isn’t advisable to make the mistake of landing at the AFB, ATC vectors you step by step at the same time stepping you down in altitude. Once they had us on the other side of the ridge and just passed the AFB off our right wing, they asked us to look right and pointed out the AFB. They said to land at the airport after that. A little hand holding?! It is apparent the mistake has been made, though, so I guess it is easier for ATC to walk you passed it! I did however, have 7000 feet of altitude to lose in a short amount of time, so set to work to get down and make the landing.

Cirrus 8074Z cleared to land 29R Tuscon International Airport!

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After taxiing 20 minutes to the absolute back corner of the airport, we were ushered into a nice tie down at Million Air FBO. And again, such super nice people. After checking in, they set us up with a hotel room for the night and one of the line guys drove us over.

A good day of flying, and time to relax. Tomorrow morning, off to Vegas!

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Posted by: Robin | July 22, 2015

Our Day Off

We made it into Huntsville Airport north of Houston in the late afternoon. Carolyn’s sister, Barbara, was there to meet us. After stopping for dinner, we drove north to her place, in Trinity. The sisters enjoyed an evening catching over a bottle of wine….or two….or three….sitting on the screened porch, while the pilot punched out after one glass and hit the sack. Since it was dark when we arrived, I had no idea what was outside.

In the morning, we met Jerry, their hired hand who helps take care of the all the animals. We walked next door to see the exotic birds Carolyn’s niece has. They all talk, sing, yell, and just chatter away!

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We also took a walk around to see some of the horses, goats, dogs, geese, and other ‘critters’ as Jerry said.

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I knew I was in Texas when we happened by this little gem:

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After making a quick run for groceries (wine), we spent the afternoon on the porch. No denying Barbara and Carolyn are sisters, it was a series of quips and on-liners all afternoon, I could barely keep up with them!

After dinner, Carolyn broke out the ingredients she brought and made us all Ceasars:

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And we enjoyed them. A whole bunch.

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Jerry came over after dinner to join us on the porch for a little visit. He had us laughing non-stop telling us stories with his very, VERY country twang. We are still imitating his “That’s jess Criazee, Miss Foster!” We have lots of good Jerry stories!

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I really enjoyed Barbara’s two house babies, Sarge (Schnauzer) and Sugar (Parti Yorkie.) They were both sweet as can be!

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As we were leaving the next day, I spent a bit of time looking at weather and conferring with Helen via phone about route. There was a tropical storm pushing weather up into the southwest. We had hoped to fly to Santa Fe, stay the night and Monday get up and pop over to Vegas via the Grand Canyon. It just looked too iffy with a potential for that weather to be right over that Grand Canyon route, so made the decision to fly to Tuscon and then up to Vegas the next morning. Decision made, but that meant we had to leave a bit earlier on Sunday.

Up and at ’em Sunday morning, we were preparing breakfast and finally saw Elroy, who came for a little breakfast himself. After he was done dining, Bill came along for a visit to finish off what Eloy could reach. Great tag team:

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We shared our last meal with Barbara for the trip, And then sadly packed up for the trip to the airport.

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I really enjoyed meeting Barbara and wish we had time to stay a bit longer, we all agreed we would plan a long weekend that I would fly Carolyn back down to visit longer.

On to Tuscon!

Posted by: Robin | July 19, 2015

First Flight

Our first day was a perfect one for flying, especially for someone who has never stepped foot in a single engine aircraft. Carolyn is quite trusting and brave to blast off with me on a 6000nm trip as a newbie! We arrived at KLBE about 7:30 shooting for an 8-8:30 AM departure. We finished loading the Princess and pulled her out of my hangar after my preflight, with Carolyn over-seeing the operation.

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We were soon in the plane, did a final update of avionics databases when we hit a glitch….when I downloaded the new databases the evening before, the ‘name’ of them looked different, so I called the company. They said they were having issues and everyone was getting entire world for charts until they could get their programming fixed. Well, that’s okay, except my MFD doesn’t hold that much data. I got an error message and end result…NO charts at all. Tried to call from plane, but since they are on Mountain time, not open. I opted to fly on to our first stop in TN with the charts on my two iPads and phone as backup. It was predicted to be VFR the whole way, so not much chance I’d need them anyhow. However, this set us back about 45 minutes. We quickly got my clearance and took off for TN. As soon as I leveled off and got plane configured for cruise, I looked over and Carolyn was enjoying her first views from the right seat on a beautiful clear day!

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We started off on our journey following the Ohio River for a while all the way to about Parkersburg, WV.

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We soon found a few clouds and after a little bit of cloud time and a squirt of water, ended up just floating on top.

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I think she likes it!

The rest of our trip into Tennessee was uneventful, but I knew I’d have to try calling Jeppessen again about my data. We landed at Beech River, a wonderful little airport with a very friendly crew!

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They chocked my plane, topped my fuel off, and handed me the keys to the red Taurus crew car so we could grab lunch. While waiting for lunch I sat on the phone with Jeppessen. Once we got back to the FBO, we sat for 2 hours working with their tech support re-downloading the data I need, breaking it into subsets and creating a new packet for me to upload. Not fun.

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Carolyn sat patiently while I worked away. Our schedule was really shot, but all is well now for the rest of the trip with all my onboard data.

After we filed, we went outside to preflight and didn’t see my airplane…turns out the fellows at the FBO towed her into the big hangar so she wouldn’t get too hot in the sun…now isn’t THAT service?! KPVE is definitely on my list of great places to stop!

We were happy to finally get back in the air and started our travels to our final destination for the day: Huntsville, TX. Again, another perfect weather leg, just some clouds here and there, but smooth and beautiful.

We crossed the Mississippi where it meets the Arkansas River:

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As the sun started down from it’s crest in the sky, Carolyn ended up on the sun side of the airplane. She tried to move the sun visor, but it snapped off, so she had to improvise.

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We landed at KUTS and Carolyn’s sister was right there waiting for us! Closed up the Princess (glad I brought her window sun screens! It is HOT here), let the FBO know our intentions, and left for dinner and our two day stay in Trinity!

All in all, a great day of flying, even with the delays. It was uneventful, which is perfect for taking someone on their first flight!

Posted by: Robin | July 17, 2015

Robin and Carolyn’s Excellent *Flying* Adventure

A new adventure awaits, and this time I am dragging one of my friends along! Spending the evening packing the plane and updating avionics. It all started with, “Can you fly to Texas so we can visit my niece and sister?” Why yes I can. And from there, let’s tag along on The Flight Academy’s Wine Country Tour…and then after that, let’s drop down to Portland and visit my friend’s daughter and grandsons. THEN we’ll fly home! We blast off tomorrow morning for Texas, fly along with us!

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Posted by: Robin | June 26, 2013

One With The Plane – the home stretch

When I woke up in Burns, Oregon I had a beautiful, clear blue sky. Some quick weather/flight planning had me leaving for the airport anticipating a good day of flying to make up for lost time from diverting to Burns for weather.

Grabbed my stuff, got in the loaner car and headed back to the airport. Princess was right where I left her, and I was anxious to get rolling! As bright and sunny as it was, it was only in the 30s. Yup. Cold.

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I was worried about the temp. Usually at home I turn the engine pre-heater on if the temps are to be below 40. Indeed I had trouble starting her, but after consulting with Helen via text for some suggestions, managed to get her going. I took off for Twin Falls, Idaho. Beautiful morning for flying!

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I did a quick turn at Twin Falls, using Reeder’s as my FBO. Loved their facade…looked so 50’s and retro!

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After topping off the tanks and checking the weather over the Rockies, it looked like some possible small convective cells over the eastern portion, but the kind you can fly around. Also I knew there were a number of airports along the plateau to land at if necessary. It would probably be a little bumpier than the crossing west since it was later in the day and things starting to heat up. Still beautiful and clear, I took off, hoping to cross, refuel at Cheyenne and make one more leg into Kansas, which would be a good day of flying, but put me within 6-7 hours of home for the next day.

Heading towards the mountains:

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Crossed the ridge north of Logan over a beautiful lake up on the plateau:

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Some more beautiful landscape crossing west to east:

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Then I started to get into the weather a little bit. Again, the visibility was good and there were enough spaces to fly around them if watching the trending on Foreflight and on my MFD on-board XM weather. I also had to watch the terrain while navigating around…..

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weather off to my left:

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Once I made my zig-zag path through the weather made the slide down into Cheyenne…whew!!!

Landed, asked for a top off and ran inside to wipe the sweat from my brow from flying around the storm cells on the mountains (yeah, it made me sweat a little!) and checked weather and got ready to file a flight plan for me next leg into Kansas. As I sat typing my flight plan into Foreflight, the FBO TV made a blaring noise and the emergency broadcast network came on. Whoa Nellie! Sever thunderstorm warning with golf-ball sized hail, tornado potential, and lightening were imminent. The Linesmen and I jumped to attention, looked outside and the sky was black! As the winds picked up, we went outside, and they towed my plane into the hangar…for the night. No way could I leave with that kind of weather around!

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And so I came to find myself at the Holiday Inn, Cheyenne for one more night, and another celebratory Margarita for crossing the Rockies with storm cells and turbulence!

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I woke up bright and early Sunday, really hoping to make it home that day. It would be a long day of flying, though. There seemed to be a pretty big line of storms running north/south in the central US (cold front.) There were breaks in it at this point, so I hoped to aim towards the biggest break and make it through to the other side (aiming for Joplin, MO.)  It looked like clear sailing from there to Pittsburgh. I filed my flight plan and off I sped. the further east I got, the hazier and hazier it became as I approached the front. I couldn’t see much ahead, just straight down.

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As I drew close to the front I watched the slot, which hadn’t filled in with storm cells ballooning and joining, so I opted to fly in between instead of flying all the way south of Wichita and back up. It was pretty murky, but the trend held and I made it through:

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Once on the other side, I made it into Joplin! Passed the front!

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Like the other stops, I asked for a top off of my tanks and did a quick check of weather for a flight HOME….only to find that that clear path home had popped numerous storms the whole way! No way did I want to negotiate any more storm cells that day. I waited for a couple hours for the heat of the afternoon to subside and hopefully the pop-up cells would start to dissipate and I could find a path. Finally I saw a window:

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My friends, Rusty and Debbie are based at I39, Madison County Airport, Kentucky. Rather than fly into the night after a long day, I contacted them to see if they would like a houseguest….That would put me about 1.5 hours from home, a short flight in the early morning and I could even make it to work!

The flight to KY still required an eastern flight into Tennessee before heading northeast to avoid a HUGE system over St. Louis (that closed the airspace and airport there!)

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I gave that one a WIDE berth.

Once I finally headed towards Rusty’s, the skies seemed to part for me. I had a nice sunset over my left wing:

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I enjoyed a nice, but quick evening with my friends, but wanted to get to the airport by 6:30, so retired early.

Early Monday morning, Rusty got me to the airport, helped me top off the tanks at the self-serve, filed quickly, and blast off for my final leg with NO STORMS within a hundred miles! WOO!

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Getting antsy! It’s my home airport!

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Short final!

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Home again, Home again, Jiggedy Jig!!

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Final Words:

  • 12 days
  • 5,968 NM
  • At least a dozen new friends
  • Countless treasured memories

I am officially one with the plane….and I even have the seat cushion stitching marks embedded on my butt to prove it……

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Until the next adventure…..Blue skies and tail winds!

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