It was a not so great day to go flying, the morning started with low clouds and gusting winds. But, I had cancelled my aircraft rentals two Fridays in a row and I was determined to get some time in an aircraft that I had recently been checked out in. By the time I drove to the airport, the overcast was breaking up and the winds had calmed down enough that I proceeded with the preflight.
The aircraft is a beauty, a 1980 Cessna 172, Cutlass RG, that has been totally refurbished. Her bright shiny paint glistened in the morning sun and the smell of her new leather seats was almost intoxicating. I commented to my flying companion that this bird was quite a departure to some of the other rental aircraft I had taken him up in.
Palm Springs Air Museum
745 N Gene Autry Trail
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Just recently returned from by biennial trip to Palm Desert, funny I go there to enjoy the dry desert heat, but this year it rained. It’s strange that I had to go to the desert to experience rain! Oh well, such is the new California weather paradigm.
The Palm Springs area has a lot of wealth. I have never seen so many Bentley and Rolls Royce automobiles, not to mention Maserati’s, Ferrari’s, and Lamborghini’s. So, as you might expect the wealth is also expressed in the quality of the displays and aircraft at their air museum. I understand that up to a few years ago the gentleman who owned most of the aircraft allowed them to be flown on occasion. This fact really separated this museum from most! It is one thing to have an antique warbird and another to actually keep it in flying condition $$$.
With the drought in California, the last couple of years had great winter flying weather with hardly a weather front to content with. I got spoiled and sort of expected that anytime I found myself with a couple of extra dollars I could just schedule an aircraft. Well, welcome El Niño, and some careful planning needs to be made before heading off into the wild blue yonder.
Just last week I scheduled a Piper Arrow (low wing, 200 horse power, retractable landing gear, and constant speed propeller) for a local flight. I invited a friend of mine to accompany me, but that morning I found the weather to be a bit iffy. Now it’s easy to make a go/no go decision if the weather is flat out IFR (Instrument Flight Rules – visibility less than 3 miles and ceiling less than 1,000 feet) or it is a perfectly clear day with mild wind. It’s the in between weather that is a head scratcher. You might be able to depart the airport but many destinations are weathered in and the big question is, will you be able to get back? Based upon the latest weather report and my local weather experience, I decided to go.
The Plaza Bistro in Sonoma
The Plaza Bistro
420 1st Street E.
Sonoma, CA 95476
Sonoma is one of my favorite getaways, less than a two hour drive and a considerably shorter flight from Livermore. Because I belong to a wine club and quarterly they make available several bottles of their finest to club members I find myself traveling to Sonoma often for a pick up.
A few weeks ago my wife and I were on our way again. It was such a nice day and since we wanted to have a glass or two of wine, we took the BMW rather than fly to Sonoma. It is such a treat to cruise into the wine country with the top down and savor the fresh air and the colors of the vegetation along the two lane road to Sonoma. Especially in late summer, after harvest, you can smell the fermentation process. It’s an odor that I personally find enjoyable.
El Paso de Robles, CA
A good friend of mine has a son who is a vintner, wow; I wish I had a relative in the wine business!
I actually knew the son before I met and became friends with his parents. He was the vintner at a local Livermore winery before they were bought out by a large corporation and began making bulk wine. So, the vintner moved to a small winery in the Paso Robles area and began making wine in a smaller boutique fashion, which better utilizes his talent. The vintner, Tom, is our personal connection to the Paso area.
Paso is about 200 miles by car and about 130 miles direct route by aircraft. The way I flew it, it was about 140 miles and about 1 hour 20 minutes flight time. The direct route from Livermore would take me over some pretty rough terrain and if that single engine should give up, the ghost the chances of walking away from a force landing would not be in my favor. There is an old saying “there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” Well, let’s just say that I’m old and leave it at that!