A Shared Addiction

Well, another day off and another great day of flying. Yet another reason I want to live closer to my folks. I was not sure how Mom would take to flying since she is overly concerned with her mortality in large airplanes. In big planes Mom is usually just fine as long as one of us is with her and that camaraderie effect seems to be amplified by having to nearly sit in each other’s laps in a small plane. Both Mom and Alex are delighted with flying and when I took Thursday off to play they really wanted to fly somewhere. Anywhere. As long as Catalina was on the itinerary.

Since I had to get checked out to fly a Rolling Hills 172SP (the Benbow 172SP is in use for the Grand Canyon Expedition) I thought I might as well double it up with a flight to the island. We arrived at Torrance (TOA) and I preflighted while Frank, the checkout instructor, did paperwork. The plane was in fabulous condition though its engine is about at max time before overhaul.

We departed Two Nine Right and headed to the shoreline for the left turn out to Catalina. Frank articulated what I have always been afraid to mention to the other pilots with whom I have flown to Catalina. It simply is not possible to glide to shore even if you climb to the midpoint and then start descending. With that out of the way, it seems better to pick an altitude that is high enough that you feel you could glide to a splashdown next to a boat. This allows considerably more scenic flying. We did thirty five hundred feeet for the way over. The landing was adequate and Mom and Alex went to explore the hiking trials while I returned Frank to his place of origin.

On the way back he taught me the rudiments of the autopilot and the moving map. They are still a bit mysterious, but I have study guides and hope to have the details well in hand by the time we leave tomorrow for the Canyon. When I returned to Rolling Hills a Frenchman kidnapped the plane saying he would return in an hour and a half. That worked because Mom and Alex wanted some time to explore. Problem came up when the Frenchman did not return. He arrived an hour late and I shot out to get a very late lunch.

We decided that there was not time for us to take a scenic flight and return to the island form them to spend the night (the original plan). That meant either no scenic flight or no island. My preference was clear, but I was surprised when they also decided to take a jaunt south along the coast to see… the coast. After a circuit of the south end of the island we headed across the open water to Palomar airport just south of Oceanside. After a pee break we headed straight out into the setting sun and pottered up the coast at about thirty-five hundred feet. Camp Pendelton and San Onofre nuclear power plant were an interesting sight then we popped up over the controlled airspace at John Wayne Airport and then dropped down again for a low, twenty-five hundred foot, pass over Long Beach Harbor. The ships were awesome and the Vincent Thomas Bridge is decorated in pretty blue lights.

It was fully dark with a nearly full moon when we finally landed at Torrance and parked the plane. We took another self timer photo of us with our steed. I think I have a photo with every plane I have flown in. I now have ninety hours, but the best thing is that my parents are so into flying that in this short nine day visit they will get airborne with me or Colin on five of the days.

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