I know, I should post more, and add more pictures. I’ll do that, it’s just that when I’m flying, I’m really not thinking about photography. I should probably be using this blog instead of Facebrag to post updates about N313TD’s flying career as well, so I’ll try to do more of that.
About 3 weeks ago, I finally quit the hangar at OXR and moved the plane to Santa Monica Airport. On Saturday I rode the Amtrak train to Oxnard, got a ride from the train station to the airport and flew the plane back. Planes, trains, and automobiles. The only mode of transportation I didn’t use that day was a boat.
I got a tie-down in Lower Southeast parking, and you can see it if you’re driving south on Bundy just before Airport Way. It’s next to the fence by the dog park, nestled between a hulking, ancient Navion and some kind of large Cessna. I think it’s a 182. I’m not happy about having to keep it outside, but that’s just the way it is, and the Bruce’s cover I got covers up all the plexi and the seam between the canopy and forward skin. It’s already rained since, and my stuff stayed dry, so I’m happy about that.
The following day was Shelley’s first flight. We should not have gone; it was windy, bumpy, and crowded. Most crowded I’ve ever seen it at SMO, with a sky full of English-as-a-second-language pilots who couldn’t seem to shut the fuck up. At one point I was “number 5 following the Cirrus” and my downwind leg went nearly to Dodger Stadium. There was a nasty turbulent layer about 100 feet off the runway and apparently, I’ve been fighter-jocking this plane since day 1, because Shelley was not comforted by the technique displayed during most phases of flight. We had to go around twice: first time, I didn’t like the landing and the drift. Second time we were too high. Third time was the charm, but I have to say that was the worst flight I’d had in the plane so far.
Since then, I’ve been learning to program routes into the EFIS, learning the 430, and stopping by the plane whenever I can. It’s not as nice as having a hangar, but it’s infinitely better not to spend an hour on the road before I can fly or tinker. It’s not so bad. The Bruce’s cover works great and I’m able to tie the plane down securely enough, and I made some nice chocks out of aluminum scrap and 14-ga. wire.
This past weekend, we went to see one of my best friends from back in the day get married in Palm Springs. This would be Shelley’s and my first destination flight with the new plane, and first flight post-scary/unpleasant day. I’d been watching the weather nearly obsessively, using SkyVector to make my flight plan, checking forecasts, and especially checking trends in Banning Pass, which can get really nasty when the wind’s coming from the north. I was also a little intimidated by KPSP, being an international airport that services regular jet traffic.
I took the afternoon off work and we got prepped and ready to go by about 2:30pm. Picked up a little fuel at SMO, then headed out. Weather and traffic at SMO was way better this time around, plus we got a flight following squawk code on the runway. Flight Following is awesome. We had handoffs and coverage all the way into Palm Springs. Our route was Santa Monica, El Monte, Brackett, Riverside, Banning, Palm Springs. There were a few bumps in Banning Pass, but nothing terrible and once we got to Palm Springs we were literally the only aircraft in the sky. We were cleared to land on rwy13R which we did easily because there was a 4kt wind right down the runway. Oh, and the Signature FBO treatment is very nice.
Coming back we got flight following again, and the marine layer cleared up in time for us to land at SMO, I thought we might have to divert to Van Nuys, but we were all good. Did a modified straight in, landed, all good.