Explore the West Coast in a Moter Glider (Flying) Route Details

Route Description

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Introduction

Flying across the Western States then up the coast to Seattle.

Detailed description

The Stops

Wednesday May 4th - Albuquerque, NM to Chinle, AZ

Thursday May 5th - Chinle, AZ to Bryce Canyon, UT

Friday May 6th - Bryce Canyon, UT to Las Vegas, UT

Saturday May 7th - Las Vegas, UT to Palo Alto, CA

Sunday May 8th - Palo Alto, CA to Stockton, CA

Monday May 9th - Stockton, CA to Redding, CA

Tuesday May 10th - Redding, CA – Paine Field Everett, WA

Narrative

Wednesday May 4th - Albuquerque, NM to Chinle, AZ
We flew to Los Alamos where the Manhattan project took place to build the first nuclear bomb. We landed and visited the local museum telling all about the town that never was. From there we flew to Farmington, fueled up by buying a couple of gas cans at the local Walmart since the airplane engine does like premium car fuel more than airplane fuel. From there we took of towards Ship Rock and found a deserted landing strip which we used to get to some of our luggage to make reservations at Chinle, AZ. After a beautiful flight across a mountain range we flew right over the Canyon de Chelly National Monument to land in a little town named Chinle. The trips up the canyon in a 4 wheel drive just didn’t sound compelling enough so we went for a short walk after dinner.
 
Thursday May 5th  - Chinle, AZ to Bryce Canyon, UT
We got up early and were airborne before 8am. Nice smooth air and great light for taking pictures. We flew to Monument Valley and buzzed some of the big rocks. Landed at Gouldings trading post but didn’t find anything interesting. So we took off and flew to Bryce Canyon over some long stretches of uninhabited land. We arrived at Bryce around noon, rented a car, had lunch and started exploring the park. Hiked for 5 miles inside the canyon.
 
Friday May 6th  - Bryce Canyon, UT to Las Vegas, UT
Weather was very cold and rainy with Thunderstorms close to the airport. It actually snowed during the night. When we tried to start the plane it didn’t cooperate. The cold weather, elevation and high moisture required us to use some starter fluid to get it running. Then we took off from Bryce trying to get to Las Vegas. We found a hole in the cloud cover and dashed out east but the weather wasn’t cooperating and a thunderstorm blocked our way so we turned back and landed in Kanab, Utah to wait out the weather for an hour. Once it passed we took of to Mesquite, Nevada were we landed for a quick lunch. Then took off again and found some great soaring conditions close to Lake Mead. We entered an updraft underneath a huge cloud at 4500 feet shut off the engine and pegged out the variometer with above 1000’ a minute of lift. The updraft was so strong that we climbed in no time to over 8000’ reaching the base of the cloud. We did some more soaring in that area all without the engine and after about 45-60min turned the engine back on and headed for Las Vegas. We landed in North Las Vegas airport.
 
Saturday May 7th  - Las Vegas, UT to Palo Alto, CA
We got of to an early start and were airborne before 8am flying to Pahrump west from Las Vegas and landed were a friend of Jeff picked us up to go for breakfast. Then Jeff took his friends girlfriend for a short flight. I climbed back in and we took of towards Palo Alto. We crossed Death Valley and the Sierras started to build up in front of us. Since we’ve been flying since more then an hour we decided to land in Lone Pine, Nevada just at the base of the highest mountain in the Sierras Mount Whitney. After a quick snack and a short walk to stretch we took off and started our climb from 3600’ to 15,000’ to get across the mountain range. It was absolutely spectacular to fly over the mountains and I was busy taking pictures. Then our speed indicator started to show crazy readings and our altimeter stopped working as well. Both instruments froze up and Jeff started to teach me how to approximate altitude based on outside temperature change. Also via the GPS we got speed over ground and are able to guess our air speed. We then started a very slow decent into the valley towards Palo Alto. From the plane I called my friend George to pick us up at the airport.
 
Sunday May 8th - Palo Alto, CA to Stockton, CA
Jeff offered to take George for a ride and I would chase the plane with his car going north. After I dropped the two I made my way north to San Francisco and over the Golden Gate bridge. I was supposed to meet them in Petaluma but the weather was so bad they couldn’t land there. George called from the plane and informed me that they’ll land in Nappa. So I dashed over to Nappa using my GPS which was a total time saver. At Nappa airport we had lunch and George hit back south in his car and Jeff and I made our way north towards Stockton to quickly visit Jeff’s friend Tom. We landed in Stockton international but that turned out to be to far from Tom’s house. So we took off again and landed north of Stockton. After a brief visit we tried to get further north but the weather got worse. We tried to pass between 2 showers when suddenly about 1-2 miles in front of us lighting struck the ground. Jeff took over the plane and we made a hard 180 turn flying around the storm. Then a little later the weather further deteriorated and it got so bad that we were in minimal VFR conditions with cloud at 1000’ and less then 1 mile visibility. We changed plans and started to look for an airport to wait out the storm. Jeff asked me to look out for towers and we started to find the landing strip. What a change in conditions in just a few minutes. We found the strip and landed planning to spend the night in Lincoln, CA. But after 30min the weather cleared and Jeff decided to fly back to Stockton to spend the night with Tom.
 
Monday May 9th - Stockton, CA to Redding, CA
Today we’ll try to get closer to Seattle and hit up north the valley. We took off at about 10pm and the weather looked pretty good. After about 1 ½ hours we landed at a little air strip in the middle of some orchards close to Chico, CA. From there we took off to get to Redding, CA where a big thunderstorm cloud was close to the airport. We just snuck by and landed to check the weather and see if we can get a bit further north. But the weather forecast didn’t look promising. The mountain passes all had low visibility and a low cloud cover. Also the freezing level was at around 8000’. It looked like we’ll be stuck in Redding. After lunch we took off again to see if we can find a hole in the clouds to sneak through but the weather just didn’t cooperate. So we did some gliding above the airport. We spend the afternoon at the airport monitoring the weather and about 4pm took off again to see the weather conditions first hand but it didn’t look doable so we ended up spending the night in Redding hoping for better weather the next morning.
 
Tuesday May 10th - Redding, CA – Paine Field Everett, WA
Our last leg of the trip since we need to get home to Seattle. We took off early and flew over the coast to Arcadia to fuel up. Then we hugged the coastline going north and stopped a couple of times since you just can't sit more than 2 hours in the small cockpit without your legs getting stiff. After 6 hours of flying that day we finally reach Paine Airfield in Everett and an amazing trip came to an end. 

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