Roman and Audry to Monterey KMRY January 26 – 30, 2023

A while back I offered to fly to Phoenix and pickup my good buddy Roman and his wife Audry and fly them to their choice of destination on the west coast for a weekend out.  As their schedule allowed I flew to Arizona to pick them up at the tail end of January.  I suggested an obscure destination that is hard to reach with a car or via commercial carrier as 7ZK can just as easily land at Catalina Island as it can at Santa Monica.  After some contemplation they decided on Monterey.  I flew from Orlando to Glendale, AZ , stayed the night at their place before we flew out of Glendale the following morning.  While heading to Monterey we stopped by Whiteman (near LA) to pickup my mom so that after I dropped Roman and Audry off in Monterey we could backtrack to Atascadero and spend the weekend with my grandparents.  While flying along the Panhandle of Florida I was lucky enough to fly over a circuit of C-130s doing pattern work at Eglin and see some snow in west Texas before parking in Roman’s buddies hangar in Glendale, AZ for the night.  The following morning we jumped in the plane and took off for KWHP.  This is the first time I have flown into the LA basin coming from the east during daylight hours with no smog or cloud cover.  After watching the 737 traffic below us making the rounds at Ontario, Roman and Audry took in a slew of Gulfstream traffic traversing the valley.  A quick stop at Whiteman to pickup my mom and we blasted off for Monterey.  I decided to take a flight up the coast as the last time Karrie and I flew up the coast from LA to Monterey a marine layer was covering the entire horizon over the ocean up to the sides of the Traverse and Southern Coast mountain ranges for the duration of our flight.  I must say this was the most scenic flight I have ever flown.  We flew past Morro Rock and the Hearst Castle before making a left base for runway 28L at Monterey.  The good visibility mixed with the Sonora Desert in Arizona, snow capped San Gabriel Mountains, flight into and out of the LA basin, and the flight up the coast was absolutely spectacular.  After a quick turn in Monterey including lunch at Woody’s At The Airport (a short walk away from the FBO in the  main terminal) with Roman and Audry, mom and I took off in 7ZK and departed for Paso Robles where we had a rental car waiting to take us to Atascadero.  After landing in Paso Robles we had a nice visit with my grandparents.  A customary trip to Morro Bay for cinnamon rolls along with a trip to the “junk store” took place.  We drove out to Morro Rock and walked along the southern edge to the extent of the trail taking while in the sea air.  After our few days in Atascadero came to a close we headed back to the airport to fly back to Monterey to pickup Roman and company for the flight back to LA and then Glendale, AZ.  With cold temperatures and a low cloud deck the departure from Paso Robles was interesting.  We watch a Comanche take off and punch a hole through the layer without filing as I heard them pickup a clearance in the air after we departed.  Pilots like that scare me.  As we climbed out above the cloud deck we picked up some light clear ice that left the airframe shortly there after in cruise.  The central valley was socked in with a cloud deck under us the entire way.  As the temperatures in the layer hovered near freezing I opted to find a VFR hole, cancel IFR, and circle through it to our destination.  The idea of flying the approach as they vectored us through the freezing temperatures with visible moisture was not on my list of things to do.  The ceilings over KMRY safely allowed for us to join the Cessna that was in the pattern doing pattern work.  We took on some fuel, loaded Roman and Audry and took off VFR to fly out over the bay and circle up through the dry air before heading to LA.  While buzzing along VFR at 11,500 LA Center asked us to climb to 13,500 for converging Cirrus traffic.  Without oxygen onboard for everyone I declined the request.  LA Center then asked us to descend to 9,500.  With a cloud deck below at freezing temperatures I declined that as well and told them that I had the Cirrus at 11,000 traffic in sight.  The following exchange was rather comical:

The Cirrus Driver asks LA Center what the RV is burning at that speed.

I respond directly to the Cirrus Driver’s question on frequency – “Eleven and a half, how’s the Cirrus?”

LA Center Controller then asks me – “Seven Zulu Kilo, the Cirrus above you wants to know what’s your fuel burn at that speed”

I respond – “Eleven and a half, how’s the Cirrus?”

Cirrus Driver – “Thank you”

LA Center Controller – “For my education what’s the Cirrus burning?”

Cirrus Driver – “We are burning 17.2. I thought the RV gets down to uh 7 an hour”

LA Center Controller – “Oh, it’s an RV-10”

Scroll to bottom and find audio clip. The exchange starts at 24.13.

I got  a good laugh from that one.  As we motored on to LA I picked up a popup clearance as it was apparent that the weather had not improved as forecast and we flew an approach into Whiteman to drop my mom off.  After taking off from Whiteman we flew out the north side of the valley.  For the first time in my flying experience we hit some (mild) mountain wave activity before safely landing in Arizona.  After enjoying a nice dinner at Yard House in WestGate it was back to their house for the night.  After waking up at Roman’s place at 4:30 he took me back to the Glendale Airport for an early departure back to Florida.  As gas is not cheap at Glendale, I opted to fly to Ak-Chin to top off.  After landing on their runway with large cracks in it and regretting my decision to land there I took on the fuel I needed and departed eastbound into the sunrise for my trip home.  There was some nasty cold weather wreaking havoc on Texas that included an overcast layer that started just east of El Paso and continued on to between Mobile and Pensacola.  This layer had consistent ceilings about 500′ along the entire route of flight and the temperature range was well within my “no fly zone” to prevent building up ice.  I looked at the winds aloft and made a plan to takeoff and climb to 17,500 and catch a nice tailwind that would push me past he edge of the low, freezing, ceiling.    The last airport before the cloud deck began was just east of El Paso (Culberson County Airport).  I landed there and was unable to call the number listed in the FBO to request someone from the city to come out and fuel the airplane but my cell phone would miraculously send text.  The listed phone number did not respond to text so I texted a buddy of mine (Andy) and asked him to make the call.  A short while later a truck pulled up and the plane got fueled.  At Culberson County the operate a 30 horse power Jabiru powered drones that launches from a catapult for night missions along the border.  I saw the satellite link outside the FBO as well as the launch system as I took off. 

Almost as soon as I was airborne and headed east the cloud deck appeared that went all the way to Pensacola.  I climbed to 17,500 and leaned 25 degrees beyond peak and settled in for the longest leg N7ZK has ever made (1,053.1 nautical miles or 1,211 statute miles).  Culberson County Airport (KVHN) to Tallahassee KTHL.  I opted to fly VFR as on an IFR flight plan the controllers would have vectored me around all the MOAs (military operations area) and with the tight fuel planning I did not want to fly any further than needed.  While flying through one of these MOAs I saw a pair of B-52s flying around me like I was sitting still.  I stopped in Tallahassee and took on enough expensive fuel for the remainder of the flight to X04.  After takeoff from KTHL the cloud deck re-appeared until just north of my destination.  What a trip.

C-130 in the panhandle of Florida shooting an approach into Eglin AFB.

Snow in Texas at a fuel stop at Hale County Airport (KPVW).

Roman and Audry loaded up and a few thousand feed above Arizona, westbound.

A 737 below us before making a right hand turn to fly into Ontario, CA.

Morro Rock with Morro Bay in background.

Dropping Roman and Audry off at Monterey.

A400 on the ramp at Paso Robles.

Sea otter snoozing in Morro Bay.

Beach south of Morro Rock looking east towards Morro Bay.

Departing Morro Bay headed to Los Angeles.

Descent into LA.

Forecast for the way home out of Arizona.

Forecast Freezing level for the flight home from Arizona.

Sunrise after fueling up at A39 Ak-Chin.

East of El Paso.

Fuel Stop in Culberson County Airport (KVHN).

The beginning of the low cloud deck that went from El Paso to Pensacola.

One of the B-52s that flew circles around me in Louisiana.

Here he is on ADSB.  His friend flew westbound and lower.

A nice tailwind for the duration of the ride home.

The first view of the ground since takeoff near El Paso.

After getting fuel in Tallahassee the cloud deck returned until just north of Leesburg.

Starts at 24.13


32.2 hours with the engine running,

332.77 gallons of Avgas burned,

1.4 hours of IMC,

2 approaches,

1 hold,

5,729 miles flown.

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Tim's RV-10 Adventures