Monday, May 18, 2020

Day 9


Waking up on the airfield campground in Payson was magical. We awoke with the sun, light spilling over the plane and our campsite. It was immensely satisfying, knowing that California was on the horizon.

We got ready and returned the little airport car we had been given for the night. We took a little too much fuel and were heavy for the higher elevation, so we made sure to increase our takeoff roll in order to gain speed to climb out effectively. We got off the ground and climbed high over the mountains, navigating by the Blythe VOR—our friend Tracy in Stamford TX had suggested this—which would take us through the Banning Pass to the coast.

We had desired to fly direct to Oceanside Airport, where the mechanic shop One Stop Aviation was located, as they had overhauled the Skyhawk’s engine a month before and we wanted to “meet the parents.” However, strong headwinds at altitude foiled this plan, and we stopped to take a little extra fuel at Borrego, a dusty desert field just before the final mountain stretch that would get us to the ocean.

We fueled and departed quickly, and climbed to cross the mountains ahead. The ceiling was steadily getting lower and the weather was becoming more and more marginal at our destination airport. We crossed the mountains and coastal California greeted us with fog and low visibility. Hooray! We decided to try for Oceanside anyways, as the weather was just on the edge, and headed there direct. The cloud ceiling was steadily dropping and hills and unfamiliar terrain was rising around us in every direction. We kept Ramona Airport in our minds as a deviation, and pressed on to try for Oceanside. My pirate heart leapt with joy at the first sight of the Pacific Ocean in the distance, but the weather became too unfriendly to make it into Oceanside, so I turned for Ramona and landed there.

A happy accident, for one of my best friends Dominique just so happens to live in Ramona! So we all shared a glorious socially distanced dinner and evening with her catching up and sharing stories. Great for the soul. California! We made it coast to coast!

Photo Gallery

Click on the image for full-screen viewing experience. All photographs © Filip Wolak.