Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Few Hops to California


I was able to visit an airport today that I’ve never been before. We are headed to Santa Monica to drop off the two passengers, then reposition an empty airplane to Van Nuys for an easier commute for them tomorrow morning.


Occasionally, I even get to enjoy some eye candy here on my own ramp at home. This is a Westwind, which always looks like the belly is about the strike the ground. Aren’t you just waiting for that to happen?!


I always give Gladys a good scrubbing before the passengers arrive. She is fresh and beautiful and ready for her not-so-busy day.


And off we go! We left at 9:00 AM this morning, which is pretty early compared to our usual flights. I love that I work for people who don’t feel the need to leave at six.

Actually, I love every aspect of this job.


We made our usual route to the Los Angeles area and passed some pretty clouds along the way. I didn’t have to worry about these clouds for later today, since we wouldn’t be coming home until tomorrow morning.


If this was a thunderstorm, we would be twenty miles away from it! But this guy was harmless, so we were able to get close as we made our way to California.


I love when they let us stay fast on our descent. Sometimes, we get stuck as the slow guy and are shunned off course until all of the big boys for LAX can get past. Not today! We were the speed of heat getting to Santa Monica!


Soon we were over Palmdale before our final turn into the valley of smog.


Since this was my first time to Santa Monica, I didn’t know what to expect. But I found out that there are tall buildings on final approach for the runway! And I was very glad that we were landing here during daylight hours.

I hate going into new airports at night. It’s much harder to see what should be done!


Santa Monica is tiny and is close to the beach. You could tell that if the smog wasn’t so bad this morning. The beach is just beyond our touchdown point today. Can you see it?


We made it on the ground and enjoyed a quick taxi to the FBO. Thanks to $8 pricing for a gallon of fuel, we opted to simply pay the ramp fee and be our on way to Van Nuys, where they give us a wonderful fuel discount as well as wonderful service.


We parked next to a Hawker Premier. These are made of carbon fiber and are the first larger-than-tiny airplane to do so. I remember when these first came out about ten years ago. They were a huge deal!


After our credit card was slid, we were on our way again. I think we spent a whole ten minutes on the ground here, and five of that was loading the car for my passengers.


We were soon taxiing to the beginning of the runway for takeoff. And we passed some big, pretty airplanes along the way! Citations, Bombardiers, and a Gulfstream. Apparently, there is a lot of money at Santa Monica…


We waited our turn for release and were soon airborne. We had to wait for this pretty Citation to land first.


Welcome to the Santa Monica pier! This is as close as I’ve ever been, and as close as I will probably ever be. I don’t think I’m nearly cool enough to spend quality time here.


Besides, it’s prettier from the sky anyway.


We just had one tiny mountain range to hop over in order to land at Van Nuys. It was a beautiful day, and the hills were green and golfy.


Soon we had Van Nuys in sight and were cleared for the visual approach to Runway 16R. Can you see the runway?


We taxied back to our normal FBO, Pentastar Aviation. They are great here. And probably half the price of Santa Monica for fuel!


While the ramp wasn’t very busy, we decided to get fuel for our flight home tomorrow morning. Have I mentioned how very much I love single-point fueling?!


We come here often enough that I wonder sometimes if Gladys considers herself part California Girl.


Like this massive Californian Gulfstream IV. You could put a swimming pool inside one of these beasts!

And I’m sure somebody, somewhere…has done just that.


Enough chit chat. Let’s go eat some lunch! I hate trying normal chains that I could get at home. I almost hesitated when Marie Callendar’s was mentioned by the line guy.

But then I remembered that all of them closed in Phoenix. So I better take this wonderful opportunity to eat here today!


Bonus! Their Backyard BBQ promotional was going on. Which meant I could get a free piece of pie with my meal. I don’t know how one could possibly say no to free pie.


This wasn’t the pie that I got (they were stingy and didn’t let us get fancy pie for our free piece), but it looks heavenly, doesn’t it?

My Mama introduced me to Banana Cream Pie when we were in Snowflake for my wedding reception four years ago.

I haven’t looked back since, except to regret the twenty-five years of my life that were a complete waste without Banana Cream Pie.


I got their Turkey Sliders, which were good because they had some nice, crisp coleslaw on top to add a yummy texture with the barbecue sauce.

Ciabatta bread makes everything better, by the way.


After lunch, it was time to head to the hotel. It had been such a grueling day and all.


This was my first time staying at this particular hotel, but it was very nice and close to the airport. Holiday Inn has a great points system, too, so it’s easy to get free rooms rather quickly.


And I had a nice, sunny California view from my hotel room. I always request as high of a room as they can give me. Views are important!


“Early” the next morning, it was time to head home. Today would be a long, fun, busy day, but first we had to head home before our other trip could begin.

A trip where Hubby gets to come along…isn’t that fun?!


This Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter arrived just before we left. These things always look so neat in flight…like they don’t belong in the air! But they can haul a ton of weight, so they are allowed to hang out at airports.


Our passengers were able to finagle their way through traffic and arrive mostly on time. So we waited in line at Runway 16R for departure.


This Cessna was landing on the smaller parallel runway. He wasn’t in our way as he continued for closed traffic on 16L.


As always, the freeways were packed in this place! I’m glad that I’m flying above it and not stuck below. I hate to stick my tongue out at these people for my better-than-theirs predicament, but you know that I did.


It’s kind of tricky to leave this busy airspace, too. There are altitude restrictions until we get to a certain point, then we begin a turn and can continue our climb. Luckily, Van Nuys isn’t nearly as bad as LAX.


Turn turn turn!


We were in a bank angle that provided a lovely view of just sky.

You’re welcome.


And soon we were parallel to Van Nuys airport on our climb to the north to exit the valley before we could turn east towards Phoenix.


It’s so early in the morning that the mountain mist hasn’t even had time to burn off! (I think we were wheels-up at 9:45 AM…so early)!


We soon had the Valley of the Sun in sight, though it was a very hazy morning here, too. I can’t make fun of California smog if we have the same thing going on at home!


We entered a base leg for Runway 21. It’s a tricky turn because there are mountains just to the left of our position here. And mountains always win, remember?


I wonder how long Tower will ask us where we are parking before they finally let it sink in that we are based here. I tell them every time that they ask…maybe they have a few hundred controllers, so no one has heard it from me before?


Aw, Gladys. I love you.

I’m headed home to pick up Hubby, and then we’ll be right back for another flight this afternoon!

1 comment:

  1. Very cool Micah. I took a special interest in the helicopter in your blog. Not sure you knew, but the Sikorsky Sky Crane technical isn't a Sikorsky product anymore. Although the aircraft was purpose built by Sikorsky for lifting back in the day, the type certificate was sold to Erickson so now the aircraft is referred to as the Erickson Air-Crane. If you're ever in the Philly area and can give me at least 24 hours notice, I would love to give you a personal tour of Sikorsky Global Helicopters, where we produce all of Sikorsky's civil helicopters.


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