Friday Morning Flight

It was the first day of my RV trip with Cristy so like all good campers I decided to start the day with an airplane flight!

I didn’t have any real destination in mind but I did have one goal: to make an aeronautical check-in on the SARA Morning Traffic and Information Net.  It’s the Ham radio group I belong to.  They have a get-together over radio every weekday morning.  I wanted to check in from the airplane.

After the Ham radio check in I just flew around the foothills for a while enjoying the beautiful morning.  It wasn’t a long or special flight but it was nice and relaxing.


Here is a video of the approach and landing back at Oakdale.

And here is the little beast I was flying.


And from there the day just got better when I went camping with Cristy.  More on that in my next posting.

Mission Flying Update #1


I received an email from my brother in the faith, Daniel Jones, who is a missionary in Mexico.  Here is his email:

Hello brother Scott,

Well, I finally broke the ice and made the trips this week to the Sierras to do the Bible studies, in your Rans! It behaved very well and I am super pleased with it. I only had one problem yesterday when it stopped charging but I think that it’s just a loose wire someplace that we will try and track down tomorrow.
So, it’s now taken me to 5 different communities that I can only get to by plane. (Unless I want to spend an average of 17 hours to 1..which I don’t)
Here is a video that I just posted.
God bless you and thanks for the prayers and a great plane!

And this is the video Daniel sent:


I can’t tell you what good it does my heart to see my airplane being the hands, feet, and WINGS of Christ in the mission field  I have no doubt that Daniel will put it to good use.  If I can boast in anything it’s in helping further the work of Jesus Christ.

Click here to learn more about Rancho Maranatha and their mission.

Happy 4th of July!

Independence Day is already here again.  Seems like it was just yesterday.  Our yearly ritual is to walk down to our neighbors two doors down and set off fireworks with them.  Seems like we only really get to see them on the 4th of July.  Every year we laugh and say, “Is it the 4th of July already?”  And when we’re done “Well, see you next year!”  Then it seems like a few weeks go by and it’s 4th of July again!

I decided to start my celebration by taking a flight with my flying buddy Jordan.   I had the plane scheduled for today and asked him if he wanted to come along.  He got permission from the home office so we made a plan to fly to Hollister.  Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating.  Right after we took off from Oakdale I could see some wisps of fog on the hills on the west side of the valley.  As we got closer it became more and more apparent that everything west of the Diablo Range was fogged in.


We overflew the range just to be sure but… we were pretty sure.


So for the second flight in a row we landed at Los Banos to swap seats.  Jordan flew the outbound leg this time so it was up to me to fly us home.  Before we left we walked around the ramp and checked out a really cool P210 with a turbine engine.  This thing was loaded for bear!

On the way back to the airplane we decided that we would head to a non-foggy destination next time.  Auburn!  It’s a nice flight over the foothills.  Auburn has a slightly challenging downhill runway and a great restaurant on the field.  I have to admit looking forward to flying there because I never thought I’d fly an airplane in to Auburn again.

It was a little breezy in Lost Bananas (Los Banos) but we got off the ground just fine.  We climbed up above the mechanical turbulence from the hills and found silky smooth air at 2500 feet MSL (Mean Sea Level, that’s how pilots usually measure altitude) (but not always).  We tracked northbound over Gustine, Crows Landing Airport, Patterson, and Westley.  We overflew a friend’s strip in Grayson called DelMar.

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 8.03.54 PM

It was getting close to the end of our rental window so I turned eastward and flew just north of Modesto’s airspace (the dotted blue circle around Modesto).  Then we flew a nice easy pattern into Oakdale at 1100 MSL!  (That’s an inside joke between Jordan and I.)

All in all it was a great morning and a great flight.  Jordan’s an excellent pilot so it gives me time to relax and really look around, something I can’t normally do.  Can’t wait for the next flight!

Missionary Aviation

So if you’ve read this blog for very long… all three of you… you know that I’m an avid pilot, builder, and lover of all things aviation.  You’ll also know that I love Christ above all.  That’s why I was thrilled to receive an email from my brother in Christ, Daniel Jones, who is with a missionary organization in Mexico called Rancho Maranatha.  He wrote to tell me that my plane had finally arrived at it’s new home!  Here is a link to their newsletter:

Here is a video of my (their new) plane arriving!



Monday Morning Flight


Last week while going over the flight planning calendar for the Oakdale Aero Club I noticed my buddy Jordan had an airplane scheduled for Monday morning.  All the other desirable days were booked or the weather report had high winds forecast.  I texted Jordan and asked if he’d like to split the rental.  He texted back that it sounded like a great idea.  So we met up out at Oakdale Municipal Airport at 0600.  The plane got a very thorough preflight inspection as two pilots both performed the inspection.  It’s hard to break old habits.  We decided that I would fly first, then we would land and change seats and Jordan would fly us home.

I started the plane and taxied out to the run-up area at the 28 end of the airport.  I performed the run up and then called on the radio, “Oakdale traffic, Cessna 895 departing runway 28 to the south, Oakdale.”   I lined up on the runway centerline and held the brakes until the engine came up to full RPMs and the released the brakes.    We started rolling down the runway.  At 50 KNOTS I pulled back on the yoke slightly to rotate (raise the nosewheel off the ground).  At 60 KNOTS the airplane gently rose off the runway.  As it was a warm morning I let the airplane accelerate to 80 KNOTS for engine cooling and we climbed up into the buttery smooth air.

UPDATE: Jordan shot some video of the takeoff and finally got it to me.  Here it is:



So… we were actually having more fun than it appears here.  🙂


I turned on course for Los Banos Airport, trimmed the airplane up, and it pretty much flew itself to Los Banos.  There was not a hint of air movement, the little Cessna felt like it was riding on rails.  We cruised southbound over Geer Rd at 2500 feet above sea level (MSL). About 30 minutes later we were pulling onto the downwind portion of the traffic pattern.  I flew the approach and made an OK landing.  Not one of my best but definitely not bad for only 3 hours sleep (long story).

After landing we switched seats and then Jordan taxied out to runway 32.  One more we were climbing up into the warm, smooth June air.


The flight back was just as smooth as the flight over.  Jordan executed a flawless approach and landing though I couldn’t resist having a little fun with the camera.

After landing we handed the aircraft off to the next set of renters and both drove to work having enjoyed a morning of amazing aircraftery, and save a few bucks in the process by splitting the rental.  I see many more mornings ahead of us.

Red Hills Fly In 2019

Normally I would be up at the Red Hills Fly In camping with some old friends.  But my back surgery has me sticking to my nice soft mattress rather than sleeping on on the ground in a tent!  But Cristy and I did decided to go up and spend Saturday with all our intrepid pilot friends.  The fly in is usually held over Memorial Day weekend, however the weather last week (which was Memorial Day) was calling for scattered rain showers which makes for a muddy sticky runway.  So we postponed until this weekend.

Cristy and I made the one hour drive in my truck up to Jack and Myrna Moyle’s airstrip in the Red Hills.  Truth be told it’s actually quicker to drive up than to fly.  If we flew, it would be a half hour drive to the airport, half hour to get the airplane ready, and a half hour to fly there.  Driving… is… quicker.  But most other pilots come from much farther away so travelling by airplane is the way to go.  Plus, it’s an airstrip.  Who want’s to drive all that way to an airstrip?!

We arrived at about 10:30am and greeted our old friends.  Most of the day was spent sitting around talking and snacking.  It was PERFECT weather to enjoy sitting under the trees watching the airplanes land and take off.




The funnest part of the entire day is just catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.  We really enjoyed our afternoon at Jack and Myrna’s and we will definitely be back to spend the night which we unfortunately could not this time.  Just love those folks!

Here are a few pictures to enjoy.









Memorial Day Flight

For the first time in four years I flew a fixed wing aircraft solo today.  I took my biennial flight review and got checked out in Oakdale Aero Club’s Cessna 152.  This morning I took it out solo.  It was a beautiful morning.  There were still some clouds around from yesterday’s storms.  It made for a beautiful sunrise, golden skies not red.  A good sign.

I got the airplane ready to go, performed my run-up, radioed my intentions, and back-taxied to runway 28 at Oakdale.  They are doing construction on the airport and all the taxiways are closed so we have to taxi down the middle of the runway to takeoff.  This is called back-taxiing.  I lined up on the runway, radioed once more and took off.  I departed left downwind and flew towards the Sierra foothills.


I flew eastward until I reached the hills on the west side of Salt Spring Valley and then turned north.  I knew that the morning Ham radio net was going so I pulled out my HT (handheld transceiver) and tuned into the SARA repeater.  As today is Memorial Day it was a smaller group of folks on the net and wouldn’t be going as long as the regular weekday net.  So when I heard a pause I keyed my radio and said “BREAK”.   Net control told me to go ahead and I checked in, “This is N6SVA, aeronautical”.  That’s a fun thing for Ham folks.  They love talking to Ham operators that are in out of the ordinary situations.  A Ham operator flying an airplane qualifies.  So checking in to the morning net was a fun thing for me too.  I checked in a couple of times telling them what the weather looked liked, where I was, my altitude, stuff like that.  They loved it and I thought it was fun too.

After the net ended I turned my HT off and just enjoyed flying around a bit.  I thought it would be fun to fly over to New Jerusalem where I had flown my powered parachute and powered paraglider so much.  It felt odd approaching the field from 2500 feet MSL as I hadn’t flown over 500 feet above the ground in four years!   I had a little difficulty finding the field because it had been so long since I had seen the field from that height.  I finally found the field and entered the pattern on a left crosswind.  I flew the pattern and made a landing that… well… let’s just say I’m a little rusty.  No metal was bent, no wheels popped, and the airplane will live to fly another day but it wasn’t one of my trademark smooth landings.


I taxied back and took off and headed back to Oakdale.  Happily my landing at Oakdale was MUCH better.  I taxied over to the fuel pump and topped the tanks off for the next guy.  All in all it was a wonderful morning but I can see that I need to get out on a few more wonderful mornings and knock this rust off.