Thursday, December 20, 2012

It Rains In California?


It’s all sunny and blue here at home, but our destination today is getting poured on with wonderful, glorious rain! We are headed to Van Nuys for an overnight trip.

And I happen to like rainy weather, so this is going to be fun. And it’s a pretty rare thing to witness in Van Nuys. Which makes things even better.


Don’t be fooled. The weather just a fifty-minute flight away is nasty! But for now, we can enjoy some beautiful, clear, seventy-five degree weather. Ahhhhhh.


The inside of Gladys is vacuumed and sparkling clean. Let’s go fly! We are flying two passengers to some soggy meetings today.


That’s what this little helicopter did today…go fly! They were probably on a training flight, judging from the abrupt landings.

It’s really tough to learn how to fly a helicopter.

Lots of moving parts, and half of them are trying to kill you.


We taxied past one of the FBOs on the field and saw a Citation Mustang. These tiny things are popular because they are fairly cheap to operate and only require one pilot.

But Gladys costs almost the same to operate per hour! And she is huge and comfortable inside for eight people!

Take that, Mustang.


Soon, it was our turn to be in the air. This is one of my favorite pictures of the day, since I rarely get our home airport in the picture just after takeoff. Isn’t this gorgeous?!

And why are there so many golf courses here?!


We were held at 6,000 feet for a few minutes on our climb to FL340 today. Can you see why?

The airliners are always given priority. So they get to descend into Phoenix instead of us getting to climb out of Phoenix. It makes perfect sense…not!

Wow, I just regressed about thirteen years. It felt great!


Did you know that we have lots of little volcanoes just outside of town? Actually, most of Arizona is dotted with these little guys. To my knowledge, they don’t do much damage any more. I’m sure they are just sitting there, waiting for their prime opportunity to explode!

Hey, it happened with Mount St. Helens, right?


We were finally given a clearance to climb and also turned directly towards ZEPER as part of the departure out of this busy airspace. As we turned, I grabbed a quick picture of Deer Valley Airport beneath us. Busy busy busy!


We have some great camping spots just north of us. Of course, it’s way too cold to go there now. We got below freezing last night here in the Valley! That’s so awful!

Ha! I just checked. It’s three degrees in my old college town, Grand Forks, North Dakota. Maybe I should just shut my big yapper.


This is just a tease of the cloudy weather about to come. Aren’t these hills so pretty? Look at all that texture below!


This giant cold front was heading towards home, but we were slowly flying into it on our way to Van Nuys for the night.


Normally, California is all clear and gorgeous and warm and sunny. Do you know why it isn’t this time?

Because my jacket is hanging up in my closet at home, that’s why.


It’s been too long since you’ve been graced with a picture of Edwards Air Force Base. Here you go. I bet you’ll have a better day because of it!


And if you look really hard, you can see Palm Springs Airport just beneath us. Dang those clouds for getting in the way. It will be pretty cloudy from here on out. We are about to descend into a rainy, yucky mess.

I can’t wait!


Kiss the dry ground goodbye!

Another reason that it is pouring rain down there? My family is at Disneyland this week. Luckily, they only had one day of bad weather. But it wasn’t as much fun being wet even when not riding Splash Mountain.


Can you see the altimeter setting of 30.15 in the right-hand side near the altitude tape? It is pretty high pressure, which just makes this crummy weather even more of a mystery. Usually, rain and gross stuff is associated with low pressure systems, but the pressure is pretty high today!

29.92 inches of mercury is standard pressure, by the way. But I’m sure that you remember that from high school biology…


Now we are in the soup, which is what we call it when we can’t see nothin’. We flew the full Instrument Landing System approach today to Runway 16R. We barely broke out of the clouds in time to see the runway to land! These clouds were low!


Even on the ground and taxiing to the ramp, it doesn’t look much better!

I actually love weather like this…where are my sweatpants and a good book?! In that order!


The visibility was about a quarter mile in some spots. The minimums for the approach are around four-hundred feet for clouds. We broke out just above that…like around 450 feet! Just in time!

It isn’t often that you have a hard time landing because of foggy and cloudy weather. At least, it’s a rare occurrence in southern California!


It was so low that we had to hold at the ILS Critical Line while taxiing to the ramp. This holds our airplane shy of this glideslope box to the right so that we don’t accidentally block the radio signals for incoming airplanes.

They need that glideslope information in order to continue a descent low enough to actually see the airport today!

So we certainly wouldn’t want to mess that up for anyone.

Once they landed, we were cleared to continue our taxi to Pentastar Aviation, our old buddies.


And then this little Aero Commander took off after the other guy landed. Just above us are blue skies, but you have to climb above about seven-thousand feet to actually prove that!

For us, we are on the ground in this rain until tomorrow when we’ll head back home. It’s going to be a short stay, but a fun one!


Pretty little Gladys was soaked from our flight! I’m happy that she gets to rest for the night.

It’s hard work to look this good, as I’m sure she would tell you if she saw you.


This Learjet was next to where we parked, ready to fly out. You can tell they’re about to leave because they have a Ground Power Unit, or GPU, attached to help start the engines.

It takes a lot of battery power to start, so it’s always nice to use someone else’s batteries instead of draining the (very expensive) one on the airplane.


For me, my killer workday is over! Gladys is all buttoned up and ready for a night on the ramp. After getting the passengers on their way, we unloaded our luggage and headed for a late lunch and then to the hotel.

I’ll show you some delicious food tomorrow…you won’t want to miss it!

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