Warning: ob_start(): non-static method anchor_utils::ob_filter() should not be called statically in /home/kradmin/public_html/wp-content/plugins/auto-thickbox/anchor-utils/anchor-utils.php on line 33

Warning: ob_start(): non-static method sem_seo::ob_google_filter() should not be called statically in /home/kradmin/public_html/wp-content/plugins/sem-seo/sem-seo.php on line 540

Poof! We're in Columbia!

"I don't like how we're lined up here. I'm going to circle around and come at it again," I told my passengers Tim, his wife Janine, and my wife Janet. We were approaching Columbia airport in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada range. Nestled behind a hill, the airport is hard to see when approaching from the West, so by the time I saw it, I realized our approach would put us farther along the downwind leg than I was comfortable with. I generally like to be as consistent as possible in my flying because it makes for fewer surprises, especially when flying a slick ship like our club's A36 Bonanza.

After a wide 360, we were on a comfortable left 45 leg for Runway 35 and made an uneventful landing. We'd left the San Francisco Bay Area less than an hour earlier.

"Poof! We're in Columbia!" said Tim, surprised at how quickly we'd crossed the Central Valley.

I smiled. "It's a fast ship," I replied—"a real 'going places' airplane."

We'd come to have dinner at the excellent City Hotel restaurant, which sadly is no longer operating. We made the pleasant one-mile walk through the woods into town. Columbia is an old gold mining town that's now a state park. It's been preserved much as it was in the 1870's. In the Summer, folks even dress in costume and drive horse-drawn vehicles down Main Street. It's a little corny, but the kids like it, and it does give a sense of what life might have been like in those days.

We lingered over dinner, enjoying all of it. The food was perfectly prepared. The service was pleasant and attentive. My passengers very much enjoyed the wine pairings. There was no wine for the pilot, but dessert was excellent! The walk back to the airport in the cool, pine-scented air of the evening was a perfect conclusion to the meal. As we walked out to the airplane, I felt very grateful for the experiences I've been privileged to have.

One of the things I enjoy most about flying is sharing it with others. This is one of the topics I reflect on in Chapter 4 of my book (here's a draft excerpt). Some might regard flitting off across the state for dinner while burning 20 gallons of gas as a selfish indulgence, and it's a fair point. That's why I try to share the experience whenever I can, especially with people who are new to it. I lightheartedly call this my "karma offset" program. This blog is also a part of that.

Because of the terrain, I decided to fly a published departure procedure by GPS, even though we were VFR. We took off downhill, the reverse of our direction on landing. On the climb-out, I noticed that the HSI showed a bogus heading. Damn—I'd missed a checklist item. I verified our heading using the magnetic compass and set the HSI correctly. I made a note to review my procedures later. Before long we'd climbed above the surrounding terrain and had turned on course for home.

It was a dark night. We sat quietly in the soft glow of the instrument panel gazing out the window at the bright stars and the scattered lights of the Central Valley as they passed underneath. The dim outline of the Diablo Range gradually loomed larger on the horizon as we approached the Bay Area. I found myself wishing that everyone could experience the completely unique perspective that a small airplane makes possible. I wanted to share it with more people than just the few who can ride along in my cockpit.

Well, here's a start.

Post a comment

Filed under Mission by  #

Comments on Poof! We're in Columbia! Leave a Comment

March 3, 2010

timjr @ 12:34 am #

You're right, it was a beautiful trip. Thanks for sharing it with us! This post reminds me how badly I want to learn to fly whenever you take us up.

March 19, 2010

Leave a Comment

Comments are queued and moderated daily.

Fields marked by an asterisk (*) are required.

Register Login