Caleb & Macie’s First Flight

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Imperial County: KIPL

Imperial County airport is located south of the Salton Sea, five miles east of the El Centro Naval Air Facility, and within an array of Military Operation Areas (MOA) and Restricted Airspace . The airport has two runways that are almost perpendicular but do not intersect. On this particular flight, we had not planned on but we landed on both runway 26 and 14. On our initial approach, the winds were light but out of the west so we elected to land runway 26. Upon landing, we taxied back, and prepared to takeoff for our return trip. On departure all appeared to be normal, other than the Blue Angels practicing five miles away at El Centro Naval Air Facility. As we climbed through 1,000ft AGL, heading north towards the Salton Sea, the airplane started to shake and vibrate accompanied with a loss of RPM. After a quick thought of “This isn’t happening”, I reduced the power, pitched the nose down, and turned direct to the airport and headed for runway 14. By reducing the power to near idle, the shaking and vibration was minimized. As we headed for the airport, we determined suitable off-field locations to put the airplane down should the engine quit. As it turned out, the engine did not quit, and we made an uneventful straight landing on runway 14. We ended up waiting around for about three hours, walking the airport, meeting like minded aviators, and watching the Blue Angeles practice five miles to the west before a Cirrus SR22 arrived to take us home. The cause of all this excitement was a couple fouled spark-plugs that needed to be replaced.



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Agua Caliente: L54

Agua Caliente is an unattended airstrip located in the beautiful and rugged Anza Borrego Desert. The airstrip is within walking distance of Agua Caliente County Park which has geothermal hot spring pools and campsites.  The airstrip is relatively short at 2,500ft long and unique in that there is a 460ft hill 1/2 miles west of the field. Therefore, wind permitting landing is recommended to the west while taking off to the east away from the rising terrain.

F70 to L54IMG_0354IMG_0356IMG_0361IMG_0377IMG_0378IMG_0390IMG_0391IMG_0395

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Santa Monica: KSMO

Santa Monica is a towered airport located in Class Delta (D) airspace just north of Los Angeles International Airport.  The airport has a single runway 4,973ft long and aligned 03/21. The airfield dates back to post World War One and was the “home field” for the Douglas Aircraft Company that produced the DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC5, DC-6, DC-7 and a few other aircraft during World War Two. For a number of years the airport has been a point of contention with the city and is planned to permanently close in 2028.

F70 to KSMO





Dodger Stadium and Downtown Los Angeles

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Ontario: KONT

Ontario International Airport is a large airport primarily used by commercial operators and air taxis. The airport is located within Class C Airspace and operates two parallel runways. 26R/8L is 12,198ft and 26L/8R is 10,200ft long. For this flight, I contacted March Approach after departing French Valley (F70) for Flight Following. They handed me off to SoCal Approach who had me fly direct to the Paradise VOR and then vectoring me to the approach before contacting Ontario Tower. Ontario Tower cleared me to land on 26R behind a Boeing 737. Landing behind an aircraft of that size can create hazardous wake turbulence to a smaller airplane like the Cessna 172 I’m flying. Therefore, I kept my flight path above the Boeing 737 and landed past his touchdown point on the runway.

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Young Eagles Flight – 04.15.17 & 05.13.17

On Saturday April 15th and May 13th, students from SJVA’s Aviation club took flight as part of the EAA Young Eagles Program.

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Calexico: KCXL

Calexico airport is about 122 miles east of San Diego and 62 miles west of Yuma, Arizona. This airport is unique in that it parallels within yards of the United States / Mexico border thus the portmanteau name Calexico. Calexico International Airport is an Airport of Entry with US Customs, services both Jet A and 100LL fuel, and has a good Mexican restaurant on the field. The runway aligns with a 08/26 heading and is 4,683ft long x 75ft wide, in good condition, and is used primarily by general aviation aircraft.

This flight was  different than many of my recent flights in a couple different ways. As of late, most of my flights have been through busy airspace requiring clearances from SoCal Approach and control towers. On this flight, no clearance was required but we did have to stay clear of the restricted military airspace to both the west and east of our route. As told by the photos below, the topography is also drastically different where I have been flying.   Within a short distance, we took-off from French Valley at 1,350ft elevation, passed peaks rising to 8,000 to 9,000ft, and then dropped down to 226ft below sea level at the Salton Sea. The ruggedness of the Colorado Desert mixed with the heavily irrigated Coachella and Imperial Valleys is absolutely beautiful.

F70 to KCXL

I accidentally set the GoPro Session up sideways thus the vertical video.

Glamis Sand Dunes in the distance.


IMG_2396useLooking South into Mexico.


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John Wayne-Orange County: KSNA

John Wayne – Orange County airport is located in the heart of Orange County California. The airport is an international airport with air carrier operations from airlines such as Southwest, American, United, Alaska, and Delta. With a heavy flow of traffic coming in and out of this airport, it is designated as Class C airspace as noted by the magenta lines around the airport. Class B airspace is the only larger type of airspace around an airport found at Los Angeles and San Diego International airports in Southern California. Landing and departing John Wayne is rather easy as the controllers with SoCal Approach clear you through the various airpsaces and hand you off to John Wayne tower. The airport has two parallel runways. 20R is 5,701ft long and primarily used by the air carriers and 20L is 2,887ft long and used by general aviation aircraft. While, I have flown through the airspace a number of different times to smaller airports in the area this was the first time landing at a Class C airport. You find much of what you would at other controlled airports just the frequency is much busier and it requires you to be more attentive and better prepared.


Former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro

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Long Beach – Daugherty Field: KLGB

Long Beach has three active runways. Two parallel runways 7L/25R at 6,191ft long and 7R/25L at 5,421ft long and a long intersecting runway oriented 12/30 at 10,003ft long. Like many airports in Southern California it had major military use starting in 1928 lasting through World War Two. The airport is currently used by civilians, six airline, and two cargo companies. Flying in and out of this airport and surrounding airspace is rather simple using SOCAL Approach for Flight Following. While we remained outside of most of the airspace, this service puts you in communication with air traffic control to coordinate all the clearances through the airspaces and provide traffic advisories when possible. On this particular flight the air was relatively smooth with what seemed like over 100 nautical mile visibility as the photos can testify.

F70 to KLGB





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Torrance – Zamperini Field: KTOA

Zamperini Field, like many of the other Southern California airports, was built and used by the United States Army Airforce during World War Two. It was completed on March 31st, 1943 and was formally known as Lomita Flight Strip until it was closed at the end of World War Two. The airstrip was turned over to the local government and the name was changed to  Torrance Municipal Airport and then to Zaperini Field in honor of Louis Zamperini, a well-known athlete, war hero, and subject of the movie “Unbroken.”

The flight from Hemet Ryan to Zamperini Field takes you through the various complex and busy airspace of southern California. A quick glance at the Los Angeles Sectional chart below demonstrates what I mean.

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There are a couple resources and systems in place that actually make this flight relatively easy. First, the airspaces on this route are set up in a manor that provide an east/west corridor that could be flown without any clearance. Using a Terminal Aeronautical Chart (below) highlights these corridors much more clearly than the Sectional charts do. While this flight could be conducted without entering controlled airspace (except the destination), it is much easier and safer to fly this route using VFR Flight Following. Contacting SOCAL Approach provides traffic advisories and clearance through all airspaces in route.


Landing KTOA

Longer video with SOCAL Approach audio.








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