Father's Day Flight With Dad!

June 20th 2005

Visalia Municipal Airport (KVIS)

Visalia, California


It started with this 'winning certificate' :0):

Dad really got a kick out the 'invitation'! :0)  Lot's of tongue-in-cheek references to the 'spaciousness' and 'great speed' of the Cessna 152 we would be flying in.  I had done a little checking on the Web for a unique restaurant experience and I found Mearle's Restaurant which was an old 50's diner that was still hanging in there - I decided that should be our '100 dollar hamburger' stop.

Due to weather PilotGuy decided that we would fly to Visalia as it would guarantee us clear skies all the way down and all the way back.  As part of the trip I gave my dad a digital camera to use, so that he could chronicle the trip, as well.

Talk about a look of comfort on the face of a passenger!  <Grin>    We're on our way!

Dad, just taking in the view....


Passing over the hills enroute to our first waypoint, San Luis Reservoir

San Luis Reservoir

Flying into the California central valley area

Dad isn't being bashful about taking lots of photos! :0)

The 'patchwork quilt' of farmland ...

In the distance looking towards the town of Visalia

On Final for runway 30, Dad chronicles our progress with pictures...

Dad takes one of those shots that I never can.....

PilotGuy and Dad, taking in a 'Kodak moment'

taken with the camera sitting on the cowling of the 152, using the self-timer on the camera

Dad says 'Hey!'

Checking out the pilot lounge's flight planning area

Plaque reads: 






PilotGuy has to point out this feature:  A shower

in the pilot lounge.  One thoughtful touch!!!

We call a cab and off to Mearle's we go!

Text taken from Mearle's menu:

"A legend upon the Visalia scene is making a comeback.  Mearle's Drive-In, closed since September 1, 2003, due to a near-disastrous fire, has reopened its' doors to anxious customers.  Mearle's has been a stalwart to generations of Visalians and is one of the best know eateries in the central valley .  It has existed with and outlived structures such as the Hotel Johnson, the old county courthouse, and the C.V.C. grain elevators, all of which seemed indestructible.  The reason for the longevity of Mearle's can only be attributed to the efforts of good management, caring employees, and an admiring public, thirsty for a continuous serving of American nostalgia.  Current owners, sisters Melissa Ward and Barbara Murch, have elected to reopen and continue the tradition of being a truly family oriented restaurant where people can have fun and be themselves.  This was the idea passed down from the previous owner, Mearle Heitzman, for over thirty years.  Mr. Heitzman perfected the name associated with great milk shakes and hamburgers by always having customers leaving happy and wanting to return to enjoy the cozy hospitality and good service.  The restaurant has basically remained the same since the doors first opened way back in the early part of 1940, by the Beshwate brothers under the name of TAD's Drive-In.  After a six year beginning the restaurant experienced a couple periods of short ownerships and a brief closure.  When the Nielson chain acquired the business and changed the name to reflect the same, the trend of longer ownerships with the community in-mind, was started.  In 1961 the name synonymous with the Visalia landscape rose to the top of the building and will likely stay there for a long time to come.  Sine 1951, there has only been three ownerships and in any town or city it is indicative of steady local support and person-to-person advertising.  When the food is good, the word does get around.  Mearle's will survive with continued support as it has survived fires, floods and lean times.  It may not have the glitz and glamour of newer restaurants constantly springing up, but it does have clientele which returns again and again, mainly because no one ever leaves, hungry.  The name is know far and wide and is a Mecca for all kinds of out-of-town customers.  The future prospect is to keep serving the best food possible and keep 'em coming back."  Mearle's Drive-In, 604 S. Mooney Blvd., Visalia, CA  93277 (559) 734-4447

This jukebox will bring back memories for many!  If you click the picture you will be taken to the Mearle's Menu.

The servings at Mearle's are most generous.  This picture is of the root beer freeze I ordered with two humongous scoops of sherbet with root beer and ice cream mixed into the lowest 3/4's.  After finishing my burger I proceeded to pounce on my treat,,, only got as far as the sherbet (which goes well above and below the cup line) and I was full.  The waitresses were wonderful and the food, hospitality and price - superb!  It has occurred to me that I need to make up excuses to fly to Visalia more often! <GRIN>.

All around the restaurant are wonderful antique photos of moments in Visalia's past. 

Visalia Fire Department at a parade in Hanford, CA July 4, 1905

United Airlines landing at Visalia, in 1943

Visalia Fire Department in front of old Visalia Theater

Visalia Baseball Team 1880's

United Airlines delivering mail in Visalia, 1944

The First Calvary Company stationed at Grant Grove after it became a park in 1800.  Photo taken 1802

Palace Hotel - corner of Court & Main Street taken in the 1880's

Main Street Visalia looking East 1938

Gateway to Sequoia National park

Service station next to Visalia Airport

Visalia Airport 1940's

United Airlines first flight opening Visalia Airport December 9, 1943


Stuffed with great food and blissful nostalgia, PilotGuy and dad head off to see Downtown Visalia.

Special Note:  We walked but we would have been better off taking the FREE motorized trolley that picks up at the nearby courthouse and takes you to the downtown area.  Most advisable if it is a particularly hot day in the summer.  The folks at Mearle's will gladly give you directions for the short walk to the courthouse.

After taking a few missteps, we are finally in downtown Visalia; looking at the Fox Theater across the street

The Fox Theater

A wall mural of the Sierras across the street from the Fox Theater

Dad checking out a real estate pamphlet to check out real estate prices in the area.  Camera shot is looking towards Main Street

Fox Theater donor 'squares' for support of the theater ...... The cab we called arrives right on time,,,, time to head back to the airport.

Fueled-up, did the run-up checks PilotGuy announces our intentions to take runway 30 on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF), since this airport has no control tower.  Here we are beginning our takeoff roll, captured on digital camera thanks to Dad! :)

And we're off........  goodbye Visalia! :0)

Familiar landmarks towards PilotGuy's home airport

San Luis Reservoir greets us once again as we near our final destination..

Nearing the San Martin airport (in the distance), our final waypoint before reaching this journey's end..

Coyote Reservoir

Golf course North-Northeast of San Martin airport

Dad captures this picture of us over the Eastridge Mall, cleared for landing on runway 31L.

Well the rest of my Father's Day gift was just given, shared and experienced.  Dad seemed to have a genuinely great time and PilotGuy is pleased that his gift was so well-received.  The gift of flight is also a gift of oneself and an experience that will remain etched forever in both our memories.  Happy Father's Day dad.  I'm always deeply pleased and moved to share this part of my world with you (flight/aviation); blue skies and good winds!

Good Flights!!!

Below graphic designed by: Jeff Bucchino,
"The Wizard of Draws" (copyright owner) http://www.wizardofdraws.com

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