Mendota Airport (M90)

Mendota, California

FlyKid & PilotGuy Are Off To Mendota, California !

August 27th, 2005

PilotGuy had promised FlyKid a flight together, earlier in the month, but when PilotGuy had to have his Commercial Checkride rescheduled for the Monday (due to the sulfuric acid spill on Highway 101, the previous Friday which made it impossible for the checkride examiner to make it to my checkride) we were going to fly together; FlyKid graciously offered to take the trip together at a later time so that I could get my Commercial Checkride.  Well, as you may or may not know (depending on whether you happened to read my Commercial 'diary' entry) the reschedule got cancelled because one of the planes I was to use for the checkride was pulled out of service - now waiting for a new engine replacement (delaying my checkride for at least another month <argh!>).

So, PilotGuy offered to take FlyKid on Saturday....

FlyKid poised and ready for our adventure together!

And we're OFF!

Southern portion of San Jose

Coyote Reservoir

South of San Jose, CA now, looking toward the familiar practice area a little before making the turn that will take us over Los Banos Reservoir and out towards the California central valley.

We've passed over the Los Banos reservoir and are now heading southward through the central valley.  Keeping highway 33 to the left of us, navigation is easy.

Shot of FlyKid on the yoke, doing a great job of holding our heading by using the highway as a guide.

FlyKid, on the ground now and poised for the adventure of a new place!

FlyKid immediately attends to his flight crew duties of tying down our aircraft.

Right near the tiedown area you will find this restroom with flush toilet and running water.  Be advised, that despite the great paint job outside the doors were hanging on a hinge and spiders had made a home of the toilet bowl. :0/  I'll be writing to the Mayor of the town to see if this can be attended to as well as call the airport manager.  Perhaps it will be in great shape for your visit here! :0)

Near the tie-down area is a fence with a gate that leads to this street (9th Street).  We follow this road out to Oiler Street.

9th Street leads out to Oiler Street that has a FastTrip gas station/convenience store (pictured on the right).  On the opposite corner (where you see the truck turning in the picture) is a Texaco.  Make a right turn on Oiler to head towards the restaurants.

Not PilotGuy or FlyKid's 'cup of tea', but the first restaurant you will see is Lucky Restaurant for Chinese Food. Less than a 1/2 mile walk from the airport.

If you're in need of a drug store you'll find the Mendota Drug Store at 5th & Oiler.  Just a couple of blocks before the drug store, also on Oiler (7th & Oiler) is a coin-operated Laundromat.

If you're in need of cold, filtered water you will find this Watermill Express a couple of blocks up from the drug store (on the right side of the street) at 4th and Oiler.

Since the population of the area is largely Hispanic, you will find a wealth of authentic Mexican food throughout Mendota.  Pictured is Chavela's Mexican Restaurant (less than a mile walk from the airport).

Only because PilotGuy has sometimes sensitive innards, he passed on anything spicy and opted for a very well-made hamburger with a soda (a limited selection of American style food is offered as well).  Click on the menu to see the inside of the menu and other views of the restaurant's interior.

On the same block just up from Chavela's is Ceilito Lindo Restaurant.  The prices are moderate and is Mexican cuisine.  Didn't try it out, but if you were looking for a more 'fancy' experience this might be the way to go (by the way, be aware that it is closed on Tuesday's).  In the near distance you can see a Burger King just a short walk from the Cielito Lindo Restaurant.

Walking back down Oiler Street from either Chavela's or Cielito Lindo Restaurant and making a right on 6th street and after a brief walk down 6th making a left on Quince will bring you to the town center and city hall.  The town center is very modest and the buildings show their age, but it is worth a peek.

This old brick building houses a store and a simple eatery to get a bite to eat.  The date near the brick cornice either has a date in the 1940's or 1920's.  Time has weathered the numbers.

Just down from City Hall is the Fresno County Free Library Branch.  PilotGuy wants to take a quick peek in here to see if he can find some information about the town of Mendota's history.  The very helpful librarian pointed me towards a book that had been written by a local historian, titled:  "A City in The Central Valley" by Robert Hernandez.

What follows is a some of what I learned in my reading:

The Yokut Indians were the earliest settlers in Mendota and lived along the west bank of the San Joaquin River near the present Mendota dam site.

Before the late 1800's the town was known as, Las Juntas (meaning: "meetings" or "meeting place").  It's believed that the named referred to the 'meeting' of the waters from the San Joaquin River and Kings River. 

Henry Miller and Charles Lux purchased the land of Las Juntas.  The San Joaquin & Kings River Canal Company also purchased land nearby to build a canal.  The new ownership forced residents to vacate the town in 1879, allowing Southern Pacific to build a railroad line though the Westside.

It was Miller and Lux that set up a plan for the town of Mendota.  A marker still remains on the site where the old town of Las Juntas stood, it is the grave of a 10 day old child by the name of Ruthe E. Medlin.

The City of Mendota incorporated in 1942.  In 1977 there was an increase in population created by the annexation of then unincorporated East Mendota which was located to the East of the Southern Pacific rail line.

The two largest companies in the area are the Spreckles Sugar plant on the outskirts of Mendota and the Biomass Plant that is located just east of the airport which you can see in the air.  Mendota also declares itself the Cantaloupe Center of the World. 


With yet another rich adventure behind us, it was time to return home.  Here we are lined-up for runway 33 !

Climbing above Mendota, over the vast stretches of farm land filled with crops of Cantaloupe, berries, corn and more.

Goodbye, Mendota !

FlyKid (a.k.a. FlyKid) looking over the cowling for a reference heading to navigate by.

Later in our flight we begin to pass some of the familiar landmarks letting us know that we are nearing home.

Passing over San Martin and Gilroy, PilotGuy prepares the plane for our descent with Reid-Hillview a handful of minutes away just over a few low hills.


Soon we are abeam our reporting point and get cleared number two for landing on 31L.  PilotGuy settles down to a smooth descent and gently caresses the runway with the tires.  Taxi to the tiedown area, unload the plane of our gear while we are both filled to the brim with great shared memories.  All smiles, we load up the car and begin the trip homeward.

Good Flights!!!

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

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