Friday, December 7, 2012

The Desert over Arizona…From the Air


Yesterday, we flew empty to Van Nuys to pick up some passengers. When we arrived, we found out that they were still a few hours away from departure. What do you do when you have a few hours to kill?

You get some really good Mexican food, that’s what.


I’ll just let you drool over this for a moment.

We found this great place near Van Nuys Airport called “Salsa and Beer.” Since I don’t drink alcohol, now would be a good time to mention that I simply call it “Salsa.”

I decided to get their shredded pork tacos today. Man oh man, were these wonderful!


Now that I’ve made you want a burrito for breakfast, let’s get back to the airport to make sure that Gladys is ready for our short hop home.

Hello, Pretty Citation III.


These guys were staged next to us. And I mean right next to us. It became a competition to see who could leave first. We were hoping that they would leave, since the line guys had placed them so close and a little bit in front of our wing. It would be hard to finagle our way around this thing to make it out of the ramp area and to the runway.

We won. Or lost, depending on how you look at it. Our passengers arrived first, which meant that we had to squeak our way past this guy.

Gladys is wonderful in so many ways, but she isn’t always the best at making small turns. This was a tight fit today, and even the passengers noticed!


Before we headed out this afternoon, I was able to find a nice young man to fill our tires with some nitrogen. The left main was looking a little low, and it doesn’t help that we get in the eighties each day and then down into the forties each night at home. It’s hard for a tire to know what pressure to maintain with such huge variations.

These guys hooked us up. I owe them cookies next time that we visit.


Here is a view of the Captain’s seat up in the cockpit. It’s so comfy and covered in sheep. Not live ones, mind you, but soft and cuddly ones for sure.


After tenderly making our way past the Citation, we were soon at the threshold of the runway and ready for takeoff. As you can see, they have switched runways since we arrived a few hours ago. Perfect for us, since our taxi is only about a hundred feet from the ramp to this airplane!


This giant Gulfstream was in line for takeoff in front of us. I didn’t mind, as I got to watch his every move and drool. What a beautiful airplane!


And, with a tail number like that, there is a good chance that he could be heading to the same place that we are heading!


I cringe when I see the freeways from the air. The traffic is always packed on them, no matter what time of day it is. At least I’m not just imagining that we don’t move when we are down there among them.

It’s way better from up here, anyway.


Here is the small hog smog covering Los Angeles just over the hills from Van Nuys. Wouldn’t this awesome haze and pollution get old after a while?


It gets more clear as we fly north to join the departure out of LA Airspace. Just beneath us is the Burbank Airport, which apparently gets priority over Van Nuys traffic. Often, we are kept on the ground until an airplane has flown its approach into Burbank above us.

It can be a long wait sometimes…ten minutes is an eternity when you could already be away from LA in that time.


Once we finally were away from LA, it was fun to look back to admire the ocean.

IMG_5815  IMG_5816

The view from 33,000 feet today was gorgeous. I have the best office view out there, by the way.


And this was rather fun to see…a nice tailwind to push us home! You can see that the wind is coming almost directly from behind us at eighty-nine knots. Which means that we had a groundspeed of 542 on our quick flight home today!

She is as fast as lightning…and a tailwind doesn’t hurt one bit!


We always fly the ARLIN3 Arrival into Phoenix airspace when returning from Van Nuys, but we are usually given a turn towards the north once we are far enough past the active military airspace just to the west of Phoenix.

Sometimes they give us “Direct TIRON,” other times just a heading of zero-five-zero. It depends on the controller from Albuquerque Center. It’s a short-cut to our home airport, so I love it either way!

We then fly through Luke Air Force Base’s airspace before being handed off to Phoenix Approach. It’s always fun to talk to those military folk.


Phoenix is now coming into view. What a beautiful day to fly!


This is Deer Valley Airport, which is always super busy. We are usually vectored to fly just north of it so that we can keep a descent coming to arrive at our home airport.

Deer Valley is crazy town.


Hi, Home!


This picture is kind of fun…with Gladys’ shadow showing up on the taxiway.


Soon, we were on our ramp and getting passengers on their way. It’s so wonderful opening the door to absolutely perfect temperatures.

Why can’t it be seventy degrees all year long?


The pitot tubes stay hot for quite a while after we land, so I sometimes wait about ten minutes after landing to put them on before leaving for home.


This is one of the three pitot tubes that gets pretty smokin’ hot. Once it cools down, I will put on its little quilt to keep it safe from anything blocking it.

These tubes pick up all sorts of information that Gladys computes in the cockpit, so they are pretty important and need to be bug-free.


While I waited, a Falcon 7X flew by. Holy smokes, this guy is huge and lovely in every way!

Do you think that it would fit in my stocking?


We have a few days home, so a long weekend will be nice. In four days, we have a three-day trip back to northern California. How fun!


I love landing and walking towards this pretty girl for my ride home. Isn’t she wonderful?! I like her.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Mountains of Van Nuys…From the Air


Today, we head back to Van Nuys to pick up some passengers that were dropped off last week. It’s been a very busy month of flying, and I have loved every minute of it.


Gladys looked excited to go flying today, too. Maybe that’s why we get along so well? I opened the door and climbed inside.

That is something that never gets old for me…climbing into an airplane.


After putting my flight bag in a safe place inside the cabin, I began my walk-around of the airplane. We have “six pins,” as I like to call them when I am doing my verbal checklist. Three are little covers that protect the pitot tubes from the elements and bugs, and three are actual pins that lock each gear in place.

If these pins are in, we can’t retract the gear when we takeoff. So I remove them and then put them out to be counted by El Capitan before we head out on each flight.

Safe redundancy in an airplane probably never killed anyone.


The pitot covers are almost like little quilts that go over the pitot tube. All six pins have a big ol’ “Remove Before Flight” red tag attached to them. Because we won’t make it far without them removed…


I am always the first one to the airplane, so I get her ready for the day. Today, while doing my checklists, I got to enjoy some pretty airplanes take off. This is a Citation X. Not to be confused with the Citation Ten.

Same airplane, but one is newer and nicer, supposedly. Citation is calling it “the most dominant aircraft this side of the sound barrier.” What an awesome jingle! I’d buy one!


And then, after watching a few airplanes take off, I turned around to see this beautiful sight. Wowsers, she is a looker!


Just like it always is, this airport was hopping! Another airplane entered our ramp and was marshaled in by our line guys. Busy busy busy!


It’s finally our turn to leave! We are empty today, heading to bring some folks home from California. While we wait at the beginning of Runway 21, a Piper lands in front of us.


Realistically, if I ever get an airplane, it will probably be something similar to this. I did all of my flight training in Piper airplanes and love them. Wouldn’t this make a cool “minivan” someday for my family?

It’s as close to a minivan as I hope to ever get…


Now that everyone is safely out of the way, it’s our turn to take to the skies! What a beautiful day to fly. Most days are…


I love this almost-surreal picture of the desert with the wispy clouds above.


Just truckin’ along! We flew some of the JOHHN1 Departure to get out of Phoenix airspace today. And, the last point on the departure was the first point on the LYNNX8 Arrival into Van Nuys. We left around eleven o’clock this morning and landed around eleven o’clock in California.

Oh yes. Gladys is that fast! (Just kidding…there is a one-hour time difference heading to California now).


On our way to Palmdale, which is where we begin our turn towards Van Nuys, I noticed all of these windmills on the mountain. They probably aren’t this tiny in real life.

Sorry. Maybe if you squint, you can see them?


Soon we were over Palmdale. I’ve flown over this city a lot this year!


And now, the beautiful mountains really start kicking in. Isn’t this a gorgeous shot?! I love the blue lake nestled between such dark mountains. It looks nice enough to visit sometime.

Aaaaaaaaand, I probably never will. But that’s OK.


This valley is so crowded that people even live up in the mountains. I can’t imagine having to live here…so many people!


We are getting close to Van Nuys now. Can you see it? Because of the winds, we once again landed on Runway 34L. Here we are setting up to enter for our downwind leg.


But first, a few more cool mountains that we fly over each time that we visit this airport. I think that I would get lost up there with so many random trails and roads!


We were soon on the ground and soon admiring rather large and beautiful Bombardier Global Express airplanes. Pretty…and big!


Just like they usually are, the Gulfstreams were all still parked here on the ramp. Do you think that these guys ever go anywhere?!


We were parked in the number-one spot, but they moved us to make room for other landing traffic. Just before leaving for California today, we found out that our passengers weren’t going to be able to leave until 2:00 PM.

Which means that we have time to grab lunch before we head home. Yippeeeeeee!


Van Nuys is a busy airport, too. And, because they were using Runway 34L today, we got to see lots of airplanes fly directly overhead.

It was pretty fun, if you like airplanes. And I do.


In particular, I like this airplane! Hi, Gladys!


Although, this old Challenger was pretty on the ramp, too. The Global Express that we just passed is just a stretch version of this Challenger. Amazing, huh?

And, in case you’re wondering, whenever you fly a small airline on a CR-J airplane…it is also a stretch version of this Challenger! Now you know.


Wow, I probably just put half of you to sleep. I guess these airplane posts are more popular with whick and Peter Lifesaver and Ken and Ted.

And I’m just fine to have some airplane buddies along for some of my rides!


This ancient Gulfstream was made back in the seventies before I was even a twinkle in anyone’s eye. It has an old low-bypass engine on it, which means two things: it is incredibly loud, and incredibly inefficient with fuel. Which is why they had to design it with giant wingtip tanks to hold more fuel.

I haven’t seen one of these in a long time, so today felt extra special! They are hard to find these days…


And we’ll end today with the greatest eye candy of them all. We are headed to lunch, then back home with a few passengers in back. Check in tomorrow for all of that fun!

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