This morning I awoke at 5:30 Arizona time because they were 2 hours off from what I am used to. I got up to check the weather and was blown away that it was already 85 degrees outside and the sun was just rising. After a cup of coffee and some flight planning, I headed to the airport where I added a few gallons of fuel before getting my flight clearance to Imperial Junction in California. The Glendale Airport was baking in the sun and by the time I departed the temperature had reached 92 degrees on the ramp. After yesterday’s engine temperature problems, I kept the airspeed up in the climb even though it took a little longer but wanted to make sure I had enough cooling for the four cylinders keeping us airborn.
After departing Phoenix, I headed south as Rodgers did back in the day till I met up with the railroad line again and then turned westward cutting between a military airspace area and the border. As I did, I thought I saw the GPS flicker just a little and remembering the FAA bulletin, I went ahead and got the maps out and set up a secondary form of navigation. The system before GPS was called VOR which pretty much are ground stations that emit a signal that can be tracked to a particular radial. The airplane has one of these units in it and I was plugging in frequencies just incase I need to navigate with it as I flew alone the boarder.
The GPS did go out for about 20 minutes at some point so I was prepared and ready to go with the VORs. A few other pilots who were less astute frantically requested vectors and resigned routes. Once ATC got around to asking me how it was going, I simply replied that I was direct to the VOR I was using at the time and they confirmed and cleared me way ahead of where they should have because apparently I knew what was going on.
After the GPS recovered, I got a call from ATC advising that an “Eagle Flight” was approaching at my 12 position and same altitude. “Eagle Flight” is the border patrol Osprey tilt rotor helicopters that fly in couplets while searching the border. I started looking and didn’t see them. Then came the 5 miles and 1 mile warnings. All of a sudden I could literally feel the airplane shaking and hear a low rumble. I looked left and then to the right where a saw a group of four Osprey aircraft with rotor’s full forward tilt zipping passed within a half mile. It was a majestic sight to see but one I hope never to get the privilege to again!
After landing at Imperial, I walked over to Rosa’s Plane Food which was an airport dinner serving Mexican, steak, and seafood. I went with the Mexican and was pleased! Once back to the airport ramp, I realized that there was a storm rolling in so I had to get my flight plan together and didn’t have time to file it so I flew visually up the Palm Spring Valley between the two mountain ranges. It was amazing to see an actual lake in the middle of a desert and then Palm Springs is a gorgeous town nesstled against a 10,000 mountain that shades the city past about 5 o’clock. There were probably 2 dozen golf courses in the area which made for a spectacular mixture of green amongst the drab brown of sand. I swung around the valley just as Rodgers did and descended into Banning, California.
As I cut between two mountains that towered thousands of feet above me and sat only a dozen miles apart, I felt like John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim” while passing between two chained lions in a narrow gap. The majesty and beauty of the mountains was surreal but the danger was also very eminent as well. I have had a few experiences with mountain flying so I knew to hug the side instead of fly up the middle. I finally saw the airport and descended into Banning where I spend a half hour planning this intricate flight plan down to the Compton airport in Los Angeles. After takeoff, I was slightly bummed that the controller said “proceed director to Compton via vectors” rather than “as filed.” I had planned this beautiful and intricate flight plan involving navigating across a very hectic airspace and wasn’t even going to get to execute my masterpiece.
As I descended into Compton, I realized that I was only a few miles from both LAX and Long Island Airport (where I’m flying tomorrow) and could see multiple aircraft on both the left and right maneuvering for the airports. It was a very busy airspace but I have gotten accustomed to the extra airflow over the last 3 weeks. I landed on one of the parallel runways and taxied to the operator base. Once I tied it down, I loaded up my stuff into mom’s rental car (she flew in to see me finish the trip) and then we headed for supper before going back to the hotel. It still hasn’t sunk in that this is the second to last day to fly on the coast to coast portion of the trip and after tomorrow I will be headed back towards home.
I have some minor day trips planned tomorrow and then resting Sunday before heading back towards Murfreesboro. I hope to have a day trip or two along the way but may not now since I honestly am ready to be home! It has been an amazing journey and I look forward to wrapping it up tomorrow and then starting the long journey back home.