“The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul”
This morning started off a little differently than planned. I woke up and threw back the curtains to find that the sunny skies of yesterday had disappeared and were replaced with bleak and overcast layers. After checking the height of the clouds, I realized I wouldn’t be able to fly visual over to the Long Beach Airport. So mom and I went to eat breakfast and checked out of the hotel before heading out to the airport. She drove me to the airport and then drove the 6 miles as the crow flies from the Compton Airport to the Long Beach Airport. I had intended to set up for a short and simple flight before landing at the busy Long Beach Airport instead of flying all day and being exhausted. As I got to Compton, I found the most hysterical sign at the end of the centerline of runway 07 left. It said “no straight out departures” which was comical because of the saying “Straight Outta Compton.” I laughed over that and still am cracking a smile about it. The cool thing about the Compton airport was that it had two parallel runways, but it was an uncontrolled airport! So you had the option of either runway and could fly uncontrolled, parallel approaches with another aircraft.
I called the telephone number for clearance to the Long Island Airport and then I waited… and waited…! It took ATC about 30 minutes to give me a routing that would work for them and when they did it was “runway heading up to 3,000 feet and then south bound.” They then proceded to asked if I understood! I was expecting some 30 waypoint flight plan and got a heading, altitude, and heading. Most of my private students could have flown it. Once airborne, I could see the beach and skyline under the thin layer of smog. Then at about 2,300 feet, I slipped into the cloud deck where I would remain until popping out on the instrument approach into Long Beach.
As I sat in the plane the bleak whiteness obscured the exterior completely and forced my eyes inward. My thoughts also dove inward to the fact I was finishing what would probably be up to this time the greatest adventure I have set out on in my life. The highlights of the trip flashed back to me as I made corrections for altitude and heading while ATC vectored me around for the approach course into Long Beach. I have flown over 60 hours of flight time and covered nearly 6,000 miles since I left Murfreesboro over 3 weeks ago. I have spent time with old friends and new friends and seen some of those friendships grow deeper because of the trip. I have seen over a dozen major cities in the USA and experienced what each of them had to offer (primarily in the food department). I have been to the “Birthplace of aviation,” the location of the first flight, the greatest aviation museum (in my opinion) in the states and so much more. It is overwhelming the grace that God has given me as I travel and the protection I have received both while in the air and on the ground. The weather was only a delay for 2 days which was a miracle in and of itself and I have been able to use this trip to work through a couple big decisions in my life. It truly has been a remarkable adventure and isn’t over yet! As I broke out of the last layer of clouds, I saw Long Beach airport right in front of me and a smile crept across my face. The smile faded slightly when I received a notice that I had a 10 knot tailwind coming in on Runway 30 and was cleared to land. I was too low to make a circling landing so I just sat Molly down gently and was very vigilant about keeping her on centerline. Then I taxied to Signature Flight support where I received a warm welcome from the line guys and mom.
I need to stop here and say what a blessing my mom has been this trip. She has taken time out of the last few weeks to drive nearly 5 hours one way to see me for a couple of days and then got up yesterday around 3 AM to fly to California where she met me last night and then today at the airport. While Rodgers might have had tens of thousands of people awaiting him as he rolled out on the beach, I had the person who rode along on my first flight nearly a decade ago and has encouraged me to reach for the sky in all I do–not just aviation. It seems only appropriate that she was there for me today as I taxied in; obnoxiously waving this ridiculous sign and acting like I literally hadn’t seen her since leaving at Murfreesboro but in reality had seen her about an hour earlier. I am truly blessed with the parents God has given me but I could not have a better mother.
Once we finished the paperwork for parking the aircraft overnight, Dave and Nate (the line guys) were more than helpful getting it hangared and even offering tenet fuel pricing for me. I can’t sing Signature’s praises enough this trip! More than once, they have cut me a deal and I’ve used them about a half-dozen times along the route.
After we got Molly tucked away, Mom and I drove over to the main terminal and found some information on Rodgers that was put there during the centennial celebration (2011).
Once we finished there, we started out on a mad goose chase for a monument that was built for Rodgers. Well after going to the local library, talking to two different historians, visiting two different piers (where it was supposedly located), and stopping at the historical center we simply accepted the fact that if there was a monument, it no longer existed. It was slightly depressing not being able to find it but supper lifted my spirits and I’m looking forward to a good Sunday off tomorrow before setting a course into the sunrise for a change. I hope to be back in Murfreesboro this Friday and then on to home from there. Chances are Molly is going to need to go down for annual once she gets back because of the trip even though she isn’t due it till July (but I’ve a couple trips planed then so need to get it done early).
All things considered, I have been blessed. I can’t believe that I have successfully finished the westward portion of the trip and look forward to some plans I’ve got for the return trip! As one person once put it, “Traveling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a story teller!” I have plenty of stories, some I’ve left out of these blogs for one reason or another–some related to flying and some not; but when it comes down to it, I’ve had a remarkable journey and look forward to being home again.