Sunday, 23 May 2010

Flight to the Californian Desert

After quite a bit of time spent flying along the shoreline or in the area, we headed up to something totally new to me: The desert.
The flight took us across the mountain ridges, less than a hundred miles of San Diego. We flew Northeastbound towards El Capitan Reservoir, and right up the highest summit in the area (Cuyamaca Park at 6500ft altitude). We were cruising at 7500ft altitude and another 2000ft wouldn't have been too much, the wind was blowing straight towards the edge and the downward wind movements just behind it were quite strong. At some point we were full power at the best climbing speed trying to maintain the plane levelled. And at some other point, we were almost powered on idle, trying not to climb ... This is how strong the upward/downward winds get over there ...

Over Cuyamaca lake, we started our descent to the destination airfield : Agua Caliente (L54), which is more a runway than an airfield. There is a strip to land the plane, and that's pretty much it, there's not much else. A road, some snakes, a bit of wind and a crinkling noise from the old road signs to add some oddness to the scene ...
I had a feeling kind of close to what we get watching an horror movie ...
It would have got creepy if the engine hadn't started.


We then flew to Borrego Valley airport, further North. Another desert behind a West-East mountain ridge, a golfcourse, a very small town named Borrego Springs, and an airport in the middle of nowhere ... 5000ft of runway with enough facilities to handle a jet, we landed our Piper Cherokee and parked in front of the local restaurant, where we were the only customers.
And still that clinckling noise from the road signs in the wind that reminds me of horror movies ...
The meal was delicious for such a decent price tag. Back on the apron at a temperature around 100°F (38°C), engine started, a message on "Borrego Valley traffic" to say our intentions to depart South-bound, and here we are up in the air again.



We flew back to San Diego at 8500ft, tried the autopilot, and arrived in a building smog that was moving more deeply inland. The visibility wasn't good at all and this is where you have to rely on your charts and ground landmarks to be sure you're going the right way. At that moment, Montgomery had only runway 23 in service (the one crossing the doublets 28L and 28R) which is used when the wind blows that way. I was cleared to land number 2, entering the pattern via a left base 23. It worked out fairly well and that ended up a pretty busy week quite nicely.

2 comments:

Kayte said...

You would land at a creepy place like that! The one pic looks like a crop circle, that should have freaked you out even more! Even though you were in a place that resembles the middle of nowhere you took some great pics and landed the plane. Very nice!

Pi_R_O said...

Superbes images !

Je t'avoue que ton blog me fait une excellente lecture lorsque j'en ai marre de faire les exams blancs de Bristol ^^.

Je trouvais que la NZ c'etait sympa mais tes photos me donnent de plus en plus envie de realiser un ptit projet de vol autour des US prevu entre amis.

Vivement le prochain vol !