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!

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.

Take Nothing For Granted

I went to my sisters memorial service yesterday. I learned a couple of things.  First is life is fleetingly short.  We can look back at all that we’ve accomplished, all we have yet to do and there is just never enough time.  The second thing is that we tend to take our loved ones for granted.  I always just figured that my sisters would always be out there… somewhere.  Living and enjoying their life.  But I took them all for granted and their lives moved on and in some cases, ended.  No one calls me, I call no one, we all just go through life with tunnel vision, interested in our own little happenings.  We have no clue what’s going on in our extended family…

I’m breaking that cycle.

Weekend Getaway to Vista Ranch and Cellars

I took this past Friday off as my birthday holiday and Cristy and I hitched up the trailer and headed down to Vista Ranch.  Turns out Friday was a good day to head down there as they were set to have live music and food from 6pm to 9pm at Vista Ranch.  I ordered a veggie pizza and Cristy got a farmer’s market salad.  The pizza was delicious.  It was cooked in a woodfire pizza oven onsite.  The salad was made from greens bought at a farmer’s market and was really fresh.  We ate our dinner and then enjoyed the jazz trio for another hour or so.

On Saturday we drove up to Mariposa and let Cristy do a little window shopping in their small downtown.  Then we had lunch at High Country Health Foods & Cafe.  Also great food.  This is a hidden gem in Marioposa right off Highway 140 on the way up to Yosemite.  After lunch it started getting hot so we headed back to the trailer to watch some videos I had downloaded onto the iPad and take a nap.  After dinner we sat outside and watched the sunset.

Sunday morning we had breakfast, watched our church’s live stream and sat out side and just chilled.  We did nothing because we wanted to do nothing.

This was probably the most relaxing outing we’ve had in the trailer yet.  It wasn’t cold, it wasn’t raining, the air conditioner worked perfectly, and the nights cooled down enough to where we didn’t need it.  No allergies, no noise, no worries.  We can’t wait to go out again.