Awesome Friday

Morning Flight

This was a great Friday.  Due to some personal business I was FORCED to take the day off.  Okay, no one forced me, I forced myself.   But since I was home anyway, and I didn’t want to wake Cristy, I decided to head out to Oakdale to test out my new Electronic Flight Bag.  An EFB has all the info a pilot needs including airport information, temporary flight restriction, NOTAMS, and most important of all, up to date navigation charts.  The EFB I use runs on my iPad and it’s called Foreflight.  Foreflight will display your aircraft’s GPS position right on a navigation chart, what’s more, it integrates with the airplane’s transponder to display ADS-B data on the chart as well.  What’s ADS-B data, you may ask?  It’s basically real-time traffic position data that is transmitted by air traffic control every time their radar sweeps the sky.   Today was to be the first time I display traffic on my EFB and it worked like a charm!

I booked the Cessna 152 out at the airport at 6am and by 6:30am was climbing out and heading south for a quick flight to Turlock and back.  As I said this was mostly just to test the ADS-B functionality of my EFB.  I was amazed how many airplanes it picked up.  It won’t pick up every aircraft in the sky but it will pick up a good portion of them.  In fact, it picked up one that was dead ahead of me and at my same altitude.  I scanned the sky carefully and was finally able to see it!  Another aircraft heading into Turlock.  You can see it in the photo below depicted as N543RR.


I continued my approach into Turlock, landed, taxied back, and took off again for Oakdale.  Fiddling with my new EFB the whole way back.  I was an early adopter of ForeFlight years ago and I can’t believe how may features they have packed into it now!  After arriving back at Oakdale I put the plane away and began on the second part of my awesome Friday!


RV Trip to Gold Country Campground Resort

On my way home from the airport I swung by the RV storage yard and picked up our Lance travel trailer.  I had reserved two nights at Gold Country Campground Resort.  We packed up our food and clothes and then headed up into the Sierra Nevada foothills to try to beat the heatwave we were experiencing down in the Central Valley.  Unfortunately, our campground was not high enough in elevation to beat much of the heat.

We checked in at the campground office and were given a map to our site.  I asked if it was a pull-thru or back-in site and the young woman told me it was a back-in site.  So after finding the site and backing in, I found that the utilities (power, water, sewer) were on the wrong side of the trailer!  It was actually a head-in site!  I pulled out and went round the loop again and pulled straight into the site and then everything lined up perfectly.

After getting set up we cranked up the AC to cool off.  It was 97 degrees outside!  We took a nap first hoping to sleep away the hotted part of the day.  It was still hot when we woke up so we jumped into the truck and drove into town to get some ice cream.  Munnerlyn’s Ice Creamery was just a few miles away in the town of Pine Grove.  We stopped in and got some vegan blueberry ice cream.  It is non-dairy and made out of coconut and blueberries.  I’m NOT a vegan but this stuff was delicious!  All of their ice creams are hand made onsite and it is worth a trip if you are anywhere within a 2 hour drive!

After dessert we decided it was time for dinner.  We drove down to Jackson and had dinner at Highway House Restaurant and Bar.  Afterwards we drove back to the campground and sat out under the awning while the sun went down.  Then we watch some Netflix shows I had saved on our iPad and then we turned in.

More to come…

Flight to Auburn, CA

Had a great time with my flying buddy Jordan this past Saturday.  We rented the trusty little Cessna 152 from Oakdale Aero Club and flew out to Auburn for breakfast.  It’s called the Wings Grill and Espresso Bar and they serve a great breakfast.  Jordan and I got there before the breakfast rush and sat out on the patio and watched the takeoffs and landings while we had breakfast.  What a GREAT way to spend a morning.

I don’t know which was better, eating breakfast and walking around the airport looking at the airplanes and talking to the odd pilot here and there, or the flight over and back.

Who am I kidding, I know which was funner.  Have a look for yourself.  Here are two videos, the first taken by my camera, the second by Jordan.  Enjoy the trip!

(And yes, I AM going to work on my on-camera personality!)

Scott’s Video:


Jordan’s Video:

Weekend Getway to Flying Flags RV Resort


This past weekend Cristy and I decided to get away for a few days so we loaded up the trailer and headed for Flying Flags RV Resort in Lodi, CA.  It’s located just off I-5 and Highway 12 just west of Lodi.  I wouldn’t really call it a resort.  The spaces were close together and there is no greenery… just rocks.  But it’s very clean and quiet so it made an ideal base for our weekend in Lodi.  We used our Passport America membership to effectively get 1/2 off the price for two days.  Very worth it.

We got to Flying Flags around 12 noon which is their check-in time.  The front desk staff quickly found my reservation and gave me all the info I needed as far as where our space was, WiFi passwords, pools, bathrooms, etc.  We found our space and within an hour were all set up, sitting in the dinette with the AC blowing full blast.  It was already quite warm outside by this time.


I was eager to try my new X-Chocks.  Even with our wheels chocked the trailer still rocked quite a bit whenever we would move around inside.  With the X-chocks in place the trailer was almost rock solid.  Very pleased with this latest purchase.



We channel surfed TV for a bit then decided it was nap time.  Yay!  My favorite time of day!  After napping we began looking for a place to have dinner.  Cristy already knew exactly where she wanted to eat: Thai Spices in Lodi.  VERY good Thai food there.  After dinner we headed back to the trailer and tried sitting under the awning to watch the sunset and enjoy the Delta breezes cooling down our hot valley.  UNFORTUNATELY the folks in the next space over decided to enjoy a nice LONG cigar.  It chased us back indoors where we had to close all the windows and turn the AC back on.  This was really the only downside to the whole trip.  Luckily they left the next morning.  But for the remainder of the evening we watched a movie I had downloaded onto my iPad and then called it a night.

The next morning I went out and sat under the awning and read a recent issue of General Aviation News – a rare treat.  I never get to just sit and read aviation news.  I did that partially to enjoy the cool morning and partially to just get out of the trailer so Cristy could sleep in.  When I heard her stirring within I went back inside and we had breakfast.  We decided we wanted to do some walking but not as long as our walk around Pinecrest Lake and looked around for a place to do that.  We decided to go to Lodi Lake Park which was just up the street from Thai Spices.

We parked on the south side of the lake first and then walked on the west shore of the lake ending up in a Masonic cemetery.  Many of the tombstones were very ornate (because… they’re Masons) and dated back to the early 1800’s.  We poked around in the cemetery for awhile until the “noseeums” started eating us up then we headed back towards the parking lot.  We stopped at a bench along the way and sat and watched a pack of kayakers enjoying the morning out on the lake.  Then we headed back to the parking lot and wanted to see what else the park had to offer.


The lake is actually a large lagoon connected to the Cosumnes River.  We looked at the park map and found a few more parking lots over near the river so we headed over there.  Just in time as it turns out because by this time the park was beginning to fill up with people having picnics and birthday parties.  We parked and then walked a nature trail that ran along the river then back through the riparian forest that grows along side the river.  We enjoyed the many interpretive signs along the trail.

By now it was 1pm and we were both getting hungry. HEY!  Thai Spices is just a mile up the road, let’s head there!  Good idea!   So after lunch at Thai Spices we headed back to the RV park for some more reading and napping.  But we also had something special to get ready for in Modesto.  Our daughter Angela was playing her music on the patio at church that evening.  This is an event our church puts on in the summer.  They invite member musicians to play music on their large patio and the church serves free hot dogs, or pizza, or snow cones or something.  It’s just a safe place for people to go, get something to eat, and hang out.  At any rate we really enjoyed Angela’s music.  Here is a small sample of what she did that night.


We really enjoyed listening to her.  Afterwards we headed back to the RV park for another movie and then bed.  At least this time we could open the windows because the cigar smokers were gone!

Sunday morning I woke up and did pretty much the same thing as Saturday morning.  After breakfast we watched church on their live Internet video stream, packed up, and headed back home.  All in all a great weekend getaway!


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.

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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!