Our July travel plans had us flying from the Great Northwest to California and back to Seattle, to attend Nathaniel's second birthday party and attend Theresa's Trans-Tahoe Relay Race. We happily loaded up our Piper Warrior 'magic carpet' for 10 days of personal air travel around the West Coast. With typical mid-July weather forecasted, we were getting into a cycle of morning low clouds from the marine layer, with clearing expected most afternoons.
Flight Day #1, Leg #1 – Renton, WA to Roseburg, OR (KRBG)
Took off on runway 34 after packing 3DC, adding air to the right main tire, and topping off the fuel tanks. Used flight following the entire trip, even getting cleared early into Seattle Class Bravo airspace near Lake Tapps. Cruised south from Thun Field directly to Scappoose through clear skies. At altitude you could see that the coast was covered in clouds. Flew west of Portland to Salem, then on past Eugene where the sky began filling with mid-level clouds with bases around 14,000 ft, but some building cumulus and virga over the mountains. Saw a C-17 flying a low level in the hills southwest of Eugene. Descended to an angled straight-in approach to runway 16 at Roseburg, avoiding the hills just north of the runway. Stopped for gas and lunch in the FBO lounge. 2.6 hours for the leg.
Flight Day #1, Leg #2 – Roseburg, OR to Concord, CA (KCCR)
Took off with Ma on runway 16, climbed initially to the south, then proceeded nearly due west to avoid an area of moderate to heavy rain showers and turbulence in the Medford and Grants Pass area. Still had some light to moderate turbulence in the climb west, but cleared up well north of Arcata, CA. The coastal area was completely covered in low clouds along the entire route south. Had 20-knot head winds at 7500 ft, but only 12-15 knot headwinds as we descended to 5500 ft. Flew past Ukiah nearly direct to Santa Rosa, then flew overhead Napa County airport directly to downwind for runway 32R at Concord. Landed in a 15-knot direct cross on runway 32R, didn't even compress the right strut until turning onto the inactive runway 19R for taxi to Pacific States Aviation for overnight parking and gas. This was our longest Warrior flight to date, 4.0 hours.
Flight Day #2, Leg #3 – Concord, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA (KSPB)
Had a 1400 ft overcast deck early in the morning that cleared by 10:00AM. Checked out of the local Crowne Plaza. Took off with Ma on runway 19R, climbed directly on course down the East Bay foothills. Cut across the foothills south of San Jose to the Salinas Valley, past King City and Paso Robles into San Luis Obispo. Got cleared for a right downwind to runway 29, winds 300 at 18 knots, nice slow final. Got self-serve gas, and had snapper at the Spirit of San Luis restaurant. 2.0 hours for the leg.
Flight Day #2, Leg #4 – San Luis Obispo, CA to Long Beach, CA (KLGB)
Took off from runway 29 into a strong headwind, flew a left downwind departure climbing to 7500 ft to Santa Maria, east of Santa Barbara to Camarillo, Santa Monica, over LAX to an extended downwind to runway 25L at Long Beach just after a departing Jet Blue A320 on runway 30. 2.1 hours for the leg, total flight time Renton to Long Beach = 10.7 hours.
David and Katie hosted us for five fun days in Long Beach with Alex and Nathaniel, where we got to celebrate Nathaniel's second birthday party. David and Katie also treated us to a great Father's Day dinner at Open Sesame in Long Beach, and we enjoyed a fun tour with the boys at the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino. Alex and Nathaniel had fun pre-flighting and refueling the Warrior before we headed north.
Flight Day #3, Leg #5 – Long Beach to Concord
After servicing both main tires, we took off on runway 25L into clearing skies. Entered the Special Flight Rules airspace northwest bound at 4500 ft, crossing LAX and Santa Monica. Joined with So Cal Approach for flight following, flying over a solid undercast from Camarillo past Santa Barbara, with excellent tailwinds of 10-15 knots. Still had a solid undercast over Santa Maria and San Luis Obispo, decided to press on non-stop to Concord. Overflew Paso Robles, then flew directly over Hollister to South County/San Martin airport, over the Calaveras Reservoir, Dublin intersection to Walnut Creek. Got cleared for a visual approach to runway 19L, then switched to the longer 19R at Concord for a landing in gusty winds to 20+ knots. Parked at Pacific States Aviation for five days with Theresa. 3.4 hours for the leg.
Theresa picked us up in Concord, and we rode to San Francisco for five fun days of dining and swim race support. We started with homemade pizza at T's, then delicious homemade key lime pie for my birthday, followed by another great birthday dinner at McCormick & Kuleto's. We then drove to Carson City, NV with Theresa and Brian, enjoying a very fun, eclectic dinner at Adele's, which has unfortunately closed after a fire, then got up early to support Theresa in her Trans Tahoe Relay. We got to enjoy a great range of temperatures, from warm in the Lake Tahoe area, hot around Sacramento, then cool and cloudy in San Francisco - typical for summer in Northern Cal.
Flight Day #4, Leg #6 – Concord to Roseburg
Loaded up 3DC after Theresa drove us from San Francisco, took off on runway 19R and flew a right downwind departure to the north, initially planning to fly to Eugene. Climbed to 6500 ft initially, generally following I-5 north through the Sacramento valley, then up to 8500 ft, passing Red Bluff, Redding, and Mt Shasta, with good tailwinds all along the route. Into Oregon, we flew over Ashland, Medford, then descended into Roseburg, since Eugene was still marginal VFR. Flew a straight-in to runway 34, and stopped for refueling and popcorn at the Roseburg FBO. 3.3 hours for the leg.
Flight Day #4, Leg #7 – Roseburg to Renton
Took off from runway 34, cruise-climbed north, with a nearly solid low cloud layer starting just north of Roseburg. Overflew Eugene, with broken clouds below, at 6500 ft with a mild tailwind, then continued over Salem, climbing to 8500 ft to clear a rising undercast. Started a descent at the Oregon border, descended through a gap near Scappoose to continue north at 4500 ft, then down to 3500 ft near Kelso to stay VFR. Followed I-5 for a bit, then proceeded over the foothills directly to Thun Field and Lake Tapps, then to Lake Youngs for a firm landing with a slight tailwind on runway 16. We flew 2.8 hours for the last leg, giving us an enjoyable 20.2 flying hours total on our latest 'magic carpet' flights to our West Coast family.
We had an added flying treat this summer, with David, Katie, Alex and Nathaniel traveling up to Seattle to attend a friend's wedding. We took the boys to an excellent airshow at the First Annual Flying Heritage Skyfair at Paine Field in Everett, where they got to see their favorite Corsair and P-38, both up from Chino, and both flying! Most importantly, we were able to fly Nathaniel on his first ever flight in a light airplane from the Renton airport. Nathaniel really enjoyed the first part of the flight in the Warrior, then was so relaxed in the smooth, warm air that he fell asleep, even snoozing through the smooth landing! The weather was perfect for Alexander's third flight, where he was really able to take in all the ground and air sights, picking out other aircraft even before his Mom and Dziadzi! Summer flying is great!