I don’t know if it’s all this talk about selling the RV-4 or perhaps the pretty new paint job but lately Mrs. Flying Deacon has taken a bigger interest in going for airplane rides. We decided to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary by taking a flight from Oakdale (O27) to Half Moon Bay (KHAF) for a seafood lunch and clean ocean air. We tried to get away last weekend but our daughter caught a bad cold so the mission was scrubbed. We rescheduled everything for today… and then I started to come down with a cold. But even after a night of tossing and turning and getting very little sleep and with DayQuil in hand I was not about to give up this week’s flight. The weather was forecast to be perfect and it turned out to be just that.
We dropped the kids off with their respective sets of friends and headed out to the airport. I really wasn’t feeling that great and probably shouldn’t have been flying. I decided to head out there and see how I felt once we got to the airport. Once we arrived I pulled the RV-4 out and preflighted. She was just like I left her last week, a little dustier maybe. That’s life in California’s farm belt. My spirits brightened a little at the sight of my old friend. We checked in with some friends who were going along with us in their RV-6A and then returned to our plane to mount up.
The weather today was unseasonably warm for this time of year and the air was charictaristically smooth. The wind just plain stops in Autumn around these parts. Winds aloft were forecast at 00/000 all the way up to about 20,000 MSL. Temps were forecast to be in the upper 70’s to low 80’s on the coast.
I helped my wife into the back seat and got her strapped in. Cracked the canopy and started the motor. We taxied out behind our friend’s RV-6A and out to the runup area. After all the pre-flight checks I asked my wife “Are you sure you’re ready? You can still back out.” My wife is a very nervous flyer. It’s not that she’s scared of the airplane or the pilot, she’s afraid she will get motion sickness. Turbulence really gets to her. She told me she was still ready to go and go we went.
The RV-4 accelerated smoothly down the runway and as gently as I could I eased it into the sky. We climed up to 3000 MSL and pointed southwest to intercept the coast. It was one of those magical days were there was NO wind movement. It really felt like riding on a brand new paved road with brand new Michelan tires. As Mater says, “I bet the roads on the moon ain’t this smooth.”
I made small talk with my wife, well okay, she did most of the talking but I was fine with that. It let me know that she was happy and feeling good and it kept my mind off my ears and head which were feeling a little iffy. We stayed at 3000 MSL as we glided over the eastern peaks of the Diablo range just south of Mt. Hamilton. We still had not felt even a burble of air. We felt our first bumps as we neared San Martin so I took the plane up to 4500 MSL. A few minutes later we were over the coast of the Pacific Ocean and all my fears for my wife melted away as I listened to her oohs and aahs ove the ocean. I dropped back down to about 2000 MSL to stay away from whatever marine sanctuaries I may have overlooked on my preflight briefing.
Soon I could see the big satellite dishes next to Half Moon Bay Airport ahead in the distance. My buddy who had been trailing me in his 6A called to say he was changing frequency. I tuned in UNICOM and listened in. No traffic in the pattern. I called for an advisory but the only answer was a Cessna calling his departure. Good enough. Since we were coming in from the south it’s kind of an awkward approach to runway 30 at KHAF. I had to get really close to the hills and then almost do a 180 to get onto the 45. As soon as my buddy and I had turned onto the 45 we had about 5 planes call all claiming to be on the 45! Well luckily they weren’t and we were. We executed an abbreviated approach and got on the ground as quickly as possible to let all our new friends sort out their positions in the pattern.
I was first and landed with a thud. Oh well, blame the cold medicine. We cleared the active and started the 3/4 mile taxi to parking. I cracked the canopy and got my first sniff of clean ocean air. It was like a tonic. Almost instantly I felt better. We taxied to the tie-downs at the extreme southern end of the field and secured our aircraft. One of the Cessna guys behind us in the pattern parked near by. He was a very wealthy looking guy in his late 40’s early 50’s with a 20-something little number walking with him. They paused in front of my RV-4 and were speaking in hushed tones. I smiled and called out, “It’s for sale. You could be cruising in style today.” He smugly answered, “Actually I was just telling her that you couldn’t get me into one of those things!” Hardy har har. “How fast does it go anyway, 170 knots?” My reply, big smile and, “well, faster than your Cessna.” I left out, Your daughter would probably love this plane! Aah, stick too your spam can, bub.
My buddy and I had a good laugh at his pompous ignorance and walked our wives through the gate at the end of the field. Once through the gate we were on a street with a few boutiques and restaurants. I asked him to take us to the place that had the best fish. We walked about a block and steped into Barbara’s. And just like at the airport as soon as we showed up a whole crowd tried to come in after us. Luckily we got there in time go get a good table. We spent about an hour or so talking and eating, two of my wife’s favorite activities. We then stepped outside to watch the ocean, the people, and just breathe the clean air. We took a walk out along a short pier and just talked and watch the water, the pelicans, the boats, and the people. The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, and our stomachs were full of good food. Just about perfect.
After a couple of hours of just talking and doing nothing in particular we headed back to the airport. There is a short trail through some cedars and blackberry bushes that leads back to the airport. Got in the planes and taxied back to runway 30. After waiting for a student in a helicopter to do something or other which seemed to take a while. But soon we were out over the blue of the Pacific again.
We headed north along the coast at 1000 MSL to stay out of San Franscisco’s Class B. We could see the gleaming towers of the financial district and the orange, yes orange towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. We passed over the bridge just over the northern anchorage. We then flew between Sausalito and Angel Island. I pointed Alcatraz out to my wife when she asked where it was. Then we went past the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, over the refineries in Point Richmond, and then over Point Pinole where my wife and I used to spend much time together when we were dating. We round out our Bay tour by heading over the Carquinez Straights and then toward the Mothball Fleet, past Concord and then over Pittsburgh, Antioch and then back to our big Central Valley. Fifteen minutes later we were in the pattern for Oakdale.
Overall this would have to be the best day flying I have ever had. I started out feeling pretty sick but my wife’s positive attitude and the fresh sea air bosted my spirits. My wife enjoyed the entire flight and for once never got sick. She is now excited at the thought of another flight. First time in my 16 years of flying.
So where are the pictures? I left the camera in the car. It was the cold medicine again. However, here is link to a Google map of our flight.