philzCoast to Coast 2004

Diary and Photos

April 10

OK, I'm on the way. Flying tomorrow from Warsaw, Poland to San Diego. There I plan to do some flight training, to recall how it is to fly, buy GPS, wait for ordered MREs (meals-readyto-eat, military thing) and then on 15th April start journey. :-)

April 11

Booring. First 3hr flight to London, then 2hr drinking orange juice at DC lounge, then 12hr flight to Los Angeles, then loooong lines to immigration controls, then taxi to Hawthorne airport, then 2hr wait for people from AAA, then another 1hr flight in PA-28, then checkin at hotel, then looking for food and sleep.

April 12

I planned to go up as soon as possible, but due to some time management issues was able to fly at 16:00. I went up with J.J., who was my instructor last year. We did 1hr of touch and goes and I was declared current enough to fly solo. So I did, went to Mongomery Field KMYF few minutes from Gillespie to buy this Airmap 500 from Marv Golden.

In closer look Airmap 1000 looked way better - clearer screen, and much more data on screen in reasonable scales. So I decided to give it a try - tomorror will fly with me. ;-)

As part of my checkout I planned today small trip to Big Bear airport - high enough to demonstrate some density altitude problems, which we will fly tomorrow. In the evening I'll try some night flying, if the weather will be good enough. Today it was little hazy.

April 13

Ok, today tried to rent a car and do some final shopping. No luck, no cars available. Anyway, I was asked if I want to pickup somebody from Hawthorne KHHR (LA). The deal was I pay for plane, get instructor for free. Said why no, short comm refresher is nice and besides I need to pickup Marta from there too. And besides, it's better to have another pilot when you play with new toys. Airmap 1000 is great :-)

Today I received my National Park Pass, and found out this MRE supplier I choose is probably dead automatic internet shop. :-/ Hate this. Hopefully we will be able to rent a car in Las Vegas and do some shopping before going to Colorado Plateau.

In the evening I did some stop&go landings, just to be legal if we had to fly at night. Tomorrow Marta comes, so I'm packing stuff, at 9 go to airport, at 11 have sheduled some more time with instructor and density altitude checkout - we are not going to Big Bear after all, will simulate everything locally. Bough "Mountain Flying" by Sparky Imeson, will read in evening.

April 14

Today got up, packed everything and checked out of hotel. Then at Gillespie I bought some sectionals for more mountainous parts of the trip, and book "100$ Hamburger" - describes restaurants available nearby airports. Then did density altitude checkout simulated by taking off at partial power and landing with 20 degrees of flaps at most. Finalized also my BFR. Below some photos just before leaving:


Trip to Hawthorne was unewentful, especially that it was 3rd time this week ;-) At Hawthorne I picked up Marta and visited on FSS located there. Nice to meet those people in person. I talked a while about weather for my trip.


After that we ate dinner at NATS Cafe and flew to North Las Vegas. Pretty high mountains just after departure, had to climb to 9500ft, then flew 7500ft and just before Las Vegas again 9500ft, preferred to stay high because sunset caught us on the way. Glad I did those 3 night landings yesterday.

Class B in Las Vegas was pretty busy, we got vectored around before landing. Airmap is great :-)

After landing in KVGT we took a cab to Hertz rentals on main airport, and started looking for someplace to sleep. Unfortunately there is some tax congress right now, and almost no place to sleep was available. Finally we found free room at Travelodge... But it's pretty late - 23:41 right now, so we plan to extend our stay here do some shopping tomorrow, which I couldn't do in San Diego due to lack of car and visit come of those big hotels in the evening. And day after tomorrow continue to Grand Canyon.

KSEE -> KHHR 1.3hr
KHHR -> KVGT 2.3hr

April 15

We started day with quick wash, then rented a car and toured Las Vegas.


Our tour ended back at North Las Vegas airport, where we quickly packed our plane and departed for flight over Grand Canyon, to Grand Canyon airport. Las Vegas airspace was very busy, so we had to fly quite a long way around. Flight over Grand Canyon was great - it's really something you must see! On landing at Grand Canyon we had pretty strong wind gust, but landing was pretty uneventful.


We ate few sandwitches at Grand Canyon airport and depared to Bryce Canyon airport. It was slowly getting dark, and I didn't reallt felt too comfortable flying over such "holy" terrain at night, but well... It was also impossible to take any photos. We arrived to Bryce Canyon late at night, and everything was closed. We decided to spend first night in tent, which we raised under right wing. Night was pretty windy - sometimes we though we will going to fly in this tent. And this rotating beacon! It was also pretty cold - about 3 degrees. Quite a difference from Californian weather.

KVGT -> KGCN 2.4hr
KGCN -> KBCE 1.7hr

April 16

We got up at 6, disassembled tent, rented a car and went to Bryce Canyon.


After few hours of touring we were back at airport, and departed to Canyonlands airport. At 8800ft density altitude our Cessna barely climbed after departure, but thermals helped a lot - we got about 1500fpm climb after a while, so I tried to circle inside. It actually works :-) Well, I had to do it twice, as after climbing to 11000ft we found out we forgot camera charger.


On the way we flew few miles through Canyonlands, great. We even tried some "wide canyon" flying once out of Canyonlands National Park.


We arrived here late afternoon, took car to Moabto buy some food and then went to Arches for a short evening tour.


It got dark pretty soon, so we headed back to Moab. And then trouble began. We visited about 15(!!!) motels, and every one of them was full. We arrived exactly on time for some kind of marathon. Hopefully late in the night we managed to find empty room...

KBCE -> KBCE 0.6hr
KBCE -> KCNY 1.1hr

April 17

Today morning we went to Arches. Weather was great, except little too hot. We did some walking trips too!


We tried to depart at 16:00, but weather on the way was not good, lots of thunderstoms, so we decided to stay. Another camping day on airport... Well, at least I had time to complete reading "Mountain Flying" before leaving mountains.


April 18

It was good decision to stay, although we felt we will fly out of airport inside our tent - pretty windy, gusts to 40kt. Hard to sleep in such conditions... But weather today was good, so we left to Tucamcari. Had to inflate tires before takeoff though...


Flight over Arches was quite nice, although we stayed 2000ft AGL as required. We decided to stop on the way in Double Eagle II airport near Alberquque. Good decision, we took courtesy car and went to see the city. Visited old town and ate some good food :-)


Then we went to shopping center to buy portable gas stove. There were none, so we bought Coleman product working on some fluid fuel.


We arrived at Tucamcari at night (as usual ;-). Nice thing was that airport terminal was not closed, so we decided to sleep inside on floor. It was so nice to sleep in closed room after previous days winds...

KCNY -> KAEG 2.9hr
KAEG -> KTCC 1.6hr

April 19

We woke at 7am, took courtesy car and went to Tucamcari for breakfast. We were recomended one place by airport personell - very nice.


After coming back I prepared navigation tools for flight and tried to taxi plane to gas station. Unfortuanately, I ran out of battery before airplane engine started. Hopefully we were provided with external power for engine start. After refuelling we took off to Hinton airport, 2O8.

We climbed to 11500 and were flying over clouds. Nice flight, but when we descended under clouds before Hinton we felt like entering a sauna - so humid and hot. Actually, we did quick "toilet" stop on the way.


Hinton is very VERY nice place, it's a pity we couldn't stay there longer - nice lobby, lot's of space and even showers. And fuel was $1.96 :-)


We were warned about stationary front east - over Oklahoma, and possibility of thunderstorms after 7pm, so we were quite in hurry, and soon departed. Ceiling was like 2000ft AGL, so it wasn't very nice, had to fly quite low. Then we were near Oklahoma airspace C, and weather was not good enough to enter, so I decided to go back to Hinton. As we were over Hinton we found a hole in clouds, so I decided to check out how it's above lower cloud layer. It was nice, quite wide "blue corridor" between two cloud layers. So we flew back to Oklahoma on choosen route.


Over Oklahoma things started to look slightly worse, I checked out weather quite a lot with FSS on the way. Visibility was going down, we entered some rain spots, and clouds started to close nearer. But lower layer was said to be broken, so at first sight of hole big enough to legally fly through we started steep descent - full flaps, 80kt, 2000fpm "spiral dive".


World under looked not much nicer, but was not that bad. So we flew further. Checked weather few times with FSS, over Hot Springs everything was supposed to look fine, and thunderstorms were not there. We flew at about 2000ft AGL, having clouds FEW at 3000ft, BKN 4000ft, OVC 5000ft. Visibility was quite good, not that good in rain patches, but it soon started to clear out. We arrived at Hot Springs after almost 4hr flight, and 5.5hr that day. Landing was not very nice, we were very tired. Airport person advised us some hotel with pickup, so we decided to go there. Nice place, near Hot Springs National Park (it's very small ;-). We unpacked and went to find some place to eat. And everything was closed! At just 10pm?! We got back to hotel and ate instant soups :-/

KTCC -> KCSM 2.6hr
KCSM -> 2O8  0.6hr
2O8  -> KHOT 2.8hr

April 20

Staying at Hot Springs whole day. We both needed to take some rest... So we started touring Hot Springs National Park. We started with main city street.


One of most important sights was spa museum - it took quite a while to see everything...


Then we decided we need some sun and fresh air - hiking trail to nearby hill was just perfect!


Getting back to city was not a problem - we visited few other streets looking for someplace to eat - we decided to go to Italian restaurant - after so many days on american cousine we wanted something more european.


Very relaxing day :-)

April 21

Weather to our next destination - Bowling Green really bad. "Flying Americas Weather" calls this region "Storm Valley", now I know why ;-) It looked really bad. What's more, it was supposed to stay that way few days. So we decided to cut two national parks, and proceed directly to coast - Charleston. Still, weather over Hot Springs was marginal VFR, with ceiling to much above mountain tops. We checked out of hotel and took shuttle to airport, because weather was prognosed to be slightly better in few hours.


At about 2pm ceiling vere about 2000ft higher, so we packed and took off. Quite nice flight, found a hole in clouds quite fast and we went up to 13500ft. Heh, and I was told last year to forget getting to 10000ft in this plane ;-)


After about 30 minutes at 13500 we descended under clouds, and from there it was about half an hour to planned stopover, but we flew slightly more east to Demopolis Municipal. Fuel there was really expensive, $3 a gallon or so. But we were allowed to camp on the field, were given keys to lobby and free car to do some shopping. Quite nice, after all.


This Coleman stove is really funny, especialy starting up seems to be quite tricky - flames are about 2ft for a while. After that it burns just like gas stove. We cooked some food and went sleeping.

KHOT -> 7A2  3.6hr

April 22

We got up at about 7am, packed things, and departed at 9am to Charleston. Flight was smooth and uneventful, we were only looking for ocean.


And here it was!


Hurra, we have flown across whole USA!


At Charleston we rented a car, drove to historical part. We were really hungry, so first thing we did was park near restaurant and eat. That was "Bubba Gump, Shrimp Co". Everything "Forrest Gump" there.


We decided to rest at "Motel 6" in the outskirts of Charleston. Tomorrow we fly to St. Augustine.


And now I have more that 100hr total time, this is, 100.7hr :-)

7A2  -> KJZI 4.0hr

April 23

Starting in the morning was really hard. For a second time we used external power for engine startup, this time from some kind of jet starting unit :-) But it worked, and soon we were on the way.


St Augustine is really nice place! :-) It's written in travel guide that it's oldest "european" city in USA. They even have some really old fort. We visited it in rented car, as usual. On the way we bought hats for both of us.


After few hours we headed back to airport, and flew to Dunn airport. Flight was pretty smooth, we had really nice weather. Navigation was no-brainer - fly along coast line. Just short of Dunn we had to pay attention to restricted airspace over Cape Canaveral.


We arrived to Dunn after sunset and had some fun looking for it as it had broken airport beacon.

We headed to FBO, and asked if camping on field is OK. They offered us free overnight in house used by sky divers - actually they operated very nice sky diving center. We thought a little about trying to jump, but we decided too much fun at once is dangerous...

KJZI -> KSGJ 2.4hr
KSGJ -> X21  1.1hr

April 24

We packed things and went back to airport.


Renting car took us quite a while, and was quite expensive. In the meantime, when we waited for a car we dryed towels. ;-)


We ate food at Dixie Crossroads, as recomended, which served sea food specialities. Apparently this was quite popular place - when we were leaving, there was quite a lot people waiting to be seated inside - they even had waiting room for such ocassions.


Next planned thing was Kennedy Space Center - we drove towards it, but it soon was obvious we choose wrong way, but decided to go further to see beach. It was quite nice, but we were in hurry and soon went back.


After choosing proper way we arrived at Kennedy Space Center. We spent there rest of the dat, but arrived too late for bus tour of actual launch pads, so we had to come back next day.


It was funny to trace rockets lying everywhere. This one below was on a schoolyard.

No flying...

April 25

First thing we did was quick drive to Kennedy Space Center, to see launch pads and Apollo artifacts.


We finished looking at Kennedy Space Center, went back to beach for half hour and departed to Key West, with refuel stop at Homestead X51. On preflight I found out that one of color navigation lights is dead, so it wasn't too legal to fly at night.


We did overfly Miami above class Bravo airspace, and I had lot's of fun flying steep spiraling descent from 10000ft before landing!


On airport we found out nice pilot lounge, hidden behing looong dark corridor.


It was so nice we decided to stay here untill next day - we planned to fly to Key West, and then to X01 - Evarglades.

X21  -> X51  2.4hr

April 26

We got up at about 8am, there was quite a lot people walking in FBO... Faulty lightbulb was replaced - $25... We departed Homestead and flew to Key West. Nice trip, especially when you fly it 1000ft :-)


At Key West we went to town on foot, which was quite a long way. Had spent half hour at beach, went to eat some local specialities like Conch Fritters and Conch Chowder, and then walked back to airport, with short beach stopover.


Flying to Everglades X01 was quite nice, we got very nice sunset. We arrived to Everglades at night.


Landing was not very nice :-/ First, I had mixed runway numbers so did first landing pattern exactly where I shouldn't - over city instead of water, then had to do two go arounds, and finally landed... The strip was much shorter than I got used to and I wanted to do pretty steep aproaches as there were warnings about trees in AFD, and at night they were not visible...


Fun started after opening airplane doors. We were invaded by millions of mosquitos. It was really hard to unpack plane while constantly waving arms to get them off... Instead of camping as planned we decided to sleep in corridor between bathrooms at FBO (only door open) to survive mosquito assault. Unfortunately there were two vending machines in there, and huge air-co device just outside of door. Throught the night we were woken up every few minutes :-/ Not a nice way to rest...

X51  -> KEYW 1.4hr
KEYW -> X01  1.5hr

April 27

We really rushed to get out of Everglades. Mosquitos everywhere, not as bad as in night but still more than bearable.


After 0.6hr flight we landed in Naples, where we met our friend from Warsaw. He should be flying his first solo tomorrow :-)


As a cold front was moving above us, we decided to have some rest today in a hotel (and pilots longue before that!).


We got really good rate with discount from NAS. Packed our baggage into courtesy car, drove to hotel few miles away, drove back to airport and then walked back to hotel...

X01  -> KAPF 0.6hr

April 28

Yes, it was long flight... We departed at 11:00 - first flew to Dunn (2.2hr), refueled, ate some food heated in microwave oven.


Then flew to 2R5 (3.3hr), refueled...


... and at once departed to Lakefront, New Orleans - 1.6hr. After arriving we rented car and went to visit French Quarter in New Orleans.


Quite nice, especially, that while eating dinner we found out that blue cheese sauce to salad actually was made of blue cheese :-) Now it's past 23, we have to go to sleep and do some laundry in the morning. Actually, we have 13hr planned flight hours left and 5 days - I was asked to return plane before 3rd May if possible...

KAPF -> X35  2.2hr
X35  -> 2R5  3.3hr
2R5  -> KNEW 1.2hr

April 29

We did laundry, drove to New Orleans to see city and French Quarter over day.


Weather was not very nice, lot's of thunderstorms around so we planned to depart later in the afternoon and just waited for clouds to disappear.


We stayed at Millionair pilots lounge and I must honestly say it was the best longue I've ever enjoyed. :-) Lot's of space, very nice couches, huge TV and a number of computers with Internet access. Great :-)


At about 18:00 thunderstorms started to fade on NEXRAD images - after a while we left loungue and departed west, to Navasota.


It was very nice that we flew in class B airspace, because otherwise it would be impossible to remain in required distance from clouds. I must say that with convective activity clouds look more 3D and flying between them is very enjoyable (probably not as much for ATC)...


We arrived at about 11pm to Navasota - almost 3 hours of night flight. As there was no pilots loungue we put up the tent and started cooking meal. After a while a car drove by and we were checked out by police - he said it's standard procedure to check airport every few hours. He was very surprised to see people camping right under airplane wings...

KNEW -> 60R  3.8hr

April 30

In the mornining we found out why he was so surprised - in airport directory it said "Camping on field", so we camped on field. But few hundreds feet away there was actually a real camping ;-)


We departed, and hoped to refuel on the way. Unfortunately it was not possible to refuel on airport I choose - we had to fly to another one - Skyranch.


That was probably narrowest runway I landed on so far. One thing I learned there was that even airports very close together can have very different winds. I checked out ATIS from nearby airport and chose runway to land. On final I noticed this will be downwind landing, but runway was quite long.

This was also first residential airpark I landed on. It's quite nice to live in such place, with taxiways directly to your home.

We cooked a meal in microwave oven, filled up plane and departed to Carlsbad Caverns.


We refueled, ate some instant soups and departed to Carlsbad Caverns. When we arrived, there was hardly any wind. We landed, tied plane to ground and went to FBO to ask for rental car. When we were there suddenly strong wind broke - I checked later on AWOS, it was 30kt gusting 40kt.


Our plane started to move - jumped out from chocks and started to turn in place. I dropped everything and went out to tie it tighter. Somebody helped my by keeping plane in place when I pulled chains tight. For added security, as there were no hooks on chain ends I used glue tape from FBO.


After this we took car, went to italian restaurant in Cavern City and drove to Carlsbad Caverns - wanted to see bats fly out of cavern at dusk.


Maybye we should wait longer for bats, bu we were very tired and sleepy so after about 45 minutes we decided to go back to Cavern City. We saw quite a lot of bats, which unfortunately did not appear on photos, but I thought there will be much more of them...


But it says in park guide it can take up to 2.5hr before they all get up and fly out...

60R  -> E30  2.3hr
E30  -> 7T7  1.4hr
7T7  -> KCNM 1.5hr

May 1

We started day with trip back to Carlsbad Caverns - this time we actually went underground!


I must say those caverns are HUGE! We even managed to make some photos undreground.


After coming back from caverns, we took off and went to Marana, visiting Guadelupe Mountains National Park from the air.


Marana is very big airport with no after hours services at all. We had to refuel before flying further, and had to sleep somewhere anyway so we just put up our tent under plane.


It was quite different than usual, as we were on huge ramp with tens of planes... Night was very hot at beginning and really cold at end. We hardly slept, because of some continous very disturbing noise. We found out in the morning it was a highway nearby...

KCNM -> KAVQ  3.7hr

May 2

We got up at 6am, ate breakfast in on field restaurant, ad plane refueled and departed to Gillespie.


It was great to see again familiar landmarks! :-)


On ATIS we found that airport is closed, but should open soon. But when I asked tower they said it's ok to land, so we landed. Funny, how airport can change in two weeks - one runway was closed, lots of taxieways closed. And there was some kind of airshow going. As I remember there was something similar last year when we were going home...

Whole trip took 62.1hr of flight time, and about 440 gallons of fuel (I don't know how much we used for last 2.8hr of flight).

KAVQ -> KSEE 2.8hr

After this trip I have 132.3 hour flight time. Nice :-) And quite a lot more experience, especially with weather different than "sky clear below 12000" ;-)

May 3

Just resting...

May 4

Just resting...

May 5

Pool and evening trip to San Diego.

May 6

Trip to Mexico - Tichuana

May 7

Trip to San Diego, Balboa Park

May 8

Checkout in C152

May 9

Short solo flight in C152

May 10

Packing, drive to Los Angeles, departure to London

May 11

Flight from London to Warsaw. Back at home :-)