Sunday, April 22, 2012

Flying M

I got a short email from a guy that reads my blog inviting me to fly in to his private airstrip sometime, the Flying M airport.  Of course I was immediately intrigued, I have a bucket list item to land at every airport in California someday, and this might be my only chance to see CA03, how could I refuse?  It was kind of a notable flight for a few reasons, I first hit up Tracy because it's on the way and I needed gas, and of course TCY has the cheapest around.  I took on 80 gallons, confirmed with the owner Zak that I was indeed going to fly in, and blasted off towards Merced as the airport is near Castle.  I was enjoying a perfect afternoon day with clear and a million weather...

So I'm flying VFR, happy to not be talking to anyone on the radio for once, hand flying and checking out the scenery and I go to plug CA03 into the Garmin and lo and behold it's not in the DB.  Hmmm, am I that dependent on modern tech?  The Garmin glass panel avionics is nice and all but come on, it's clear as day outside... there is a old thing called PILOTAGE right?  I don't need a GPS fix!  I pressed on and as I neared Merced I started flying around where it appeared to be on the sectional but I couldn't find the darned thing!  Feeling like a total goob, I finally dialed up El Nido VOR, flew over it, then tracked outbound on the 015 degree radial which looked like it would run me into the airport.  In my defense, it IS a bit hard to spot, no?  See it right off the wingtip?

I setup for landing and the derned Garmin is lighting up yellow and red and screaming "Terrain!  Terrain!" because it doesn't know there is an airfield there and thinks I'm about to fly into the ground.  The runway is not wide, but it's plenty long at 3,000 ft and it's in good condition so an easy, non event landing.  I pulled in between another Baron and a new SR22 turbo in a little ramp area at the end of the runway 19 (I think).  From a house perched on a hill over looking the airstrip, the owner comes rumbling down a dirt road in a big diesel truck, a fat cigar hanging out of his mouth.  I felt like I had come to see William Randolf Hearst.  

I wish I had more time to spend there, but I had guests coming over my house and had gotten a late start (as usual) so I didn't have nearly enough time to check out the digs.  The owner turned out to be a really cool guy and fellow Colemill Baron owner.  I also met a few of his delightful friends and family members and got a quick truck tour of the property.  Photos can't possibly do it justice but it's an absolutely incredible pastoral landscape, on 15,000 acres with rolling hills, creeks, cows and we even spotted a coyote.

Before blasting off for home I added a GPS waypoint for CA03.  I really must come back here! 

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