The (long) Commercial Solo Cross-Country (made on 5/25/05)

07/13/2010 04:49:20 AM

Okay,,, gotta admit that technically this should be part of my Commercial Certificate training diary (and it will appear as a link, there, too!).  But you know,,, between the training for the Instrument rating and then immediately followed by the Commercial Certificate training there haven't been any Journey's in the 'Journey's' webpage!  So, this entry should remedy that! :0)

After eyeballing the weather in the previous week, it became clear that Wednesday (May 25th) would be the last best chance before the fog pattern started taking over again. So, I chose Wednesday!

Leaving San Jose and Reid-Hillview airport behind as PilotGuy begins his Commercial Solo 'cross-country' adventure!

Once out of RHV's (Reid-Hillview Airport - San Jose, CA) airspace, and pointed towards San Martin, I plugged my small portable mp3 player into the cell phone/cd interface of my headset (BTW, the audio channel to the external device automatically mutes whenever a transmission is made or received - no safety issues there) and began the music program that I had planned for the flight. I started with Willie Nelson singing "Rainbow Connection" (from the Muppet Movie), followed by "I believe I can fly",then, "Why Walk When You Can Fly" by Mary Chapin Carpenter and more.

Pointing Towards San Martin

Continuing the climb and pointing the nose towards San Martin


Flying over San Luis Reservoir, South/Southeast of San Martin

Over (I believe) the Los Banos area with the airport visible in the distance.

I'm sure those of you who remember PilotGuy's trip to Hanford, may recognize this town and it's airport.  Town of Hanford in the foreground with Hanford Airport in the distance.

 Location on the sectional.  If you look closer, you'll see time of passage, handwritten on the sectional, this is done in the event one finds they are 'lost' - the time provides you a last know position time fix. Just a good habit to keep in-place! :0)


I flew to Porterville (about 2 hour flight) and stopped to buy some fuel. Was feeling lazy so I tried getting a fuel truck guy but he was nowhere to be found, so I used the self-service pump and filled us up - only after 'towing' the 152 from the transient tie-down area over to the gas pump island (did I mention it was REALLY hot in Porterville <GRIN> the AWOS was reporting density altitude at 1800 feet ((Porterville Airport is about 400 feet Mean Sea Level)))













"Porterville All America City"

Porterville Airport Terminal Building.  The top photo is a view of the restaurant/cafe, inside.  Lower photo is a shot of the lounge area inside the terminal building lobby.


So, I made wise use of the restrooms thought for a minute about getting some lunch (there was a diner in the terminal building), but since I didn't leave Reid-Hillview till around 11:30AM - 12:00PM or so and I still had a lot of distance to cover I had brought some water and cold lemonade with me and had a good swig and headed off for a run-up check, announced myself on the CTAF

.... and headed off towards Willows Airport (about 3 hours away from Porterville) and officially began (as logged) my Commercial Cross Country.

View of farm land just north of Porterville Airport... I'm turning towards the initial heading......



The San Joaquin River


(FYI:  As a viewer pointed out to me; some of the untitled photos are not in chronological sequence.  This is partly due to me not keeping a written 'photo log' of each photo as I took it and in some cases some untitled photos just looked good side-by-side.  Either way, I made my best guess for the untitled photos and where identity and sequence was uncertain, I just placed untitled photos together 'cause they seemed to look good that way.  Thanks for understanding.  Also if you positively recognize some of the untitled shots, please let me know so that I can place them in proper sequence:

I remember (and took pictures of it ((see below))) seeing a farm house below me and a farmer had 'carved out' in the 'yard' in front of his house the word "HOWDY!" in big letters (really made me grin) - nice to see some friendly attitude towards general aviation.

Farm with 'General Aviation - Friendly' "HOWDY"

Look in the red box in this enlarged inset photo and you will see, "HOWDY"

Merced Airport in foreground with town of Merced in background

Just beyond Merced Airport, Castle Airport (visited on Rich's First Flight) can be seen in the distance

At some point (around 2 hours into the flight) PilotGuy was trying out the exercises he had learned at a Wings Seminar for waking up your legs and bum during a long flight - as you can't simply get up and walk around in the planes we fly :).

Traversing approximately 260 nautical miles of distance (about 3 hours of flight time) I reached Willows, entered the pattern (it was around 5pm I believe) and landed and fueled up.

 Since I figured Nancy's Cafe (like most airport diners) was probably closed by now (remember: I hadn't had lunch and was pretty hungry by now), I thought I should still walk over to it from the tie-down area and at least get a picture of it....

.... Never has a fellow been happier to see the words "Open 24 hours"


I walked in and had a great hamburger and a root beer, took a few pictures and bought a couple of Nancy’s Café coffee mugs.

An old photo of Nancy's, likely in it's heyday

Memorabilia of the 99's (a famous women pilot organization)

 When it came time to go (I didn't want to stay too long, 'cause I still had another 2 hours of flight to go), I called the RHV atis from my cell before leaving,,,, "wind 310 at 10 knots", great visibility,, sounds like the fog was still holding off 'till the next day as predicted.

I did my run-up and since the winds had shifted (they were very slight anyways) I announced myself on CTAF and took runway 16. It worked well since it saved me having to make a turn back to the 'south' (i.e. if I had taken off from 34 or 31).

I remembered that I needed to get an 'extra' landing in, so I chose Colusa since it was along my path of flight (has the same runway orientation as Reid-Hillview, the runway is longer than Reid-Hillview Airport but narrower by 15 feet (which you don't notice much). The part I had liked best when I had read about it was that ultralights were not allowed (always worry about some norad (short for ‘no radio’) ultralight popping up in my path, unexpectedly). Since the winds were easily less than 5 knots to calm, I did a pattern entry for 31 (since it would be easier to make a 45 into downwind entry from my direction of flight and the tailwind would be minor), landed, took off and turned back and continued climbing for the trip home.

The sun was going down and I always like the way the 'detail' comes out in the landscapes during that time. Soon I was in my 'own backyard' again. Flew past C83 (Byron Airport) and the windmill farms of Altamont Pass.

 Over LVK (Livermore Airport) ....
flew towards VPCAL (Calaveras Reservoir - a visual waypoint on the sectional)

.. announced myself over VPCAL with the latest ATIS (I think it was ROMEO by then)

The sun was just touching the hills ...

. Got cleared number 3 for landing, but by the time I was on my 45 I was cleared number 1 for landing. I lined-up for a smooth-as-you-please landing, tower cleared me to taxi back to Nice Air (without the need to talk to ground ((about 8pm by now))).

I had flown 679 nautical miles for a total of (actual in-flight time) of
6.9 hours of Hobbs (engine running) time.


What a great learning experience and fun adventure!

Good Flights!!!


Below graphic designed by: Jeff Bucchino,
"The Wizard of Draws" (copyright owner)
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