Creswell, Oregon to San Carlos, California

Trip Start Dec 23, 2012
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Trip End Mar 30, 2013


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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, December 24, 2012

Creswell is a small town about 8 miles south of Eugene, OR where I lived for about 20 years before moving to Bainbridge Island and where I still keep a home in the country.  When I visit there, I fly into Creswell's Hobby Field (77S) where I have had a hangar since I begin flying about 14 years ago.  My first plane was a 1979 Piper Archer II (N3048T) which I bought right after getting my private pilot certificate and kept at Creswell. I owned it until I bought N788W in 2010.  Even though I am based at KPWT where I have a more spacious hangar, my earliest flying adventures really begin while I was based in Creswell so I decided to begin this one there as well. Creswell is typical of many small community airports I have flown into across the US - at last count more than 250. With a 3100 foot runway, fuel, a good mechanic, and a couple of flight schools, it has everything you need for basic flying.  It doesn’t have any instrument approaches, but with RNAV approaches now viable without radio aids, that may soon come to Creswell

But Creswell is in the Pacific Northwest.  Having flown in his region’s winter weather since the beginning, I am well aware that you can get trapped by low wet clouds that make IFR flying over the high mountains with high MEA’s (MEA= Minimum Enroute Alititude) impossible due to airframe icing. Small planes like mine are rarely equipped to prevent the accumulation of ice.  The weight of the ice and its buildup changing the shape of the wing and tail airfoils can lead to seriously bad consequences. The ice problem is especially true going south over 8,000 foot mountains with 10,000 MEA’s.  If you can’t get over the mountains, going out to the coast and doing a low altitude run south over the ocean is the alternative, but I don’t like to fly that way if I don’t have to.  A series of monster storms coming off the Pacific were forecast for my departure date of December 23, so I took advantage of a relatively clear afternoon a few days before and repositioned the plane to Redding, California (KRDD) which is south of all the mountains with a route over flat terrain into San Francisco.  Of course, I had to drive back north to Eugene, but I realized I hadn’t driven than section of I-5 in many years (I always fly over it), so I took advantage of being on the ground to visit friends in Medford and Roseburg.

The weather cleared in San Francisco on December 24 so I made the flight IFR from Redding to San Carlos Airport (KSJC),  a small airport on the peninsula south of San Francisco but probably the most accessible GA airport when you’re visiting the city.  I filed IFR for a direct flight from Redding, but naturally got re-routed south and east via Manteca so I actually arrived at KSJC from the southeast.  The weather was clear though, so a pretty view coming in the San Francisco Bay area.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take any photos, partly because there were a lot of VFR planes sightseeing with the break in the weather so I was busy avoiding traffic, but also because I really haven’t yet gotten into my long- distance flying mode where I always have the camera ready. 

Expecting a lot of people flying in for the holidays, I was worried about finding a parking spot at KSJC but no worries; they have 60 transient spots so plenty of room when I arrived.  Only $10/night to park the plane at KSJC - parking a car in San Francisco costs way more.  The fuel truck arrived within a few minutes of my arrival so I was immediately fueled and ready to go.  I always like to fuel when I arrive rather than on departure.  On my RTW flight, too many times I was left standing around, anxious to depart, while waiting for a fuel truck to arrive on the morning of departure.  Simple lesson: as soon as you arrive, get ready to leave.

I had a great Christmas holiday with my brother Jim, his partner Lois, and his family.  We took an afternoon to drive down the Pacific coast past Half Moon Bay where I lived in a little house for about four years (1976-1980).  All and all, an enjoyable few days and a nice way to embark on the long flight to Antarctica.
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