My mother turned 91 last week which provided the excuse to fly to Southern California and back.
The trip down on 3-7-9 was 444 miles non-stop which I flew in a beeline on auto pilot at 9,500 feet because there was a nice tail wind up there. My average speed was 126 statue miles per hour and the plane got a solid 33 miles per gallon. Try to beat that performance in a car! Flights like this provide lots of looking-out-the-window time and you can literally see half of the state’s width as you fly along. It is very un-usual to see any airplanes up at this altitude so it makes for peaceful effortless flying.
On 3-13-9 I took my brother Wayne for his first ride in my plane. He had helped build the plane two years ago but lives on the east coast so this was his first opportunity to fly in it. We flew 346 miles with one stop at imperial county airport for a potty break. It was a lazy sight-seeing flight. Our average speed was 101 MPH. We flew for miles just off the deck along the Salton Sea and also spent some time at 10,000. A couple of times we found ourselves climbing effortlessly at over 1,200 fpm in desert thermals. We flew over Joshua Tree National Park which is actually more interesting from the ground. We ended our flight by flying down a steep 11 mile canyon which starts at 8,500 feet and ends at about 2,500. Most of the descent was done with full flaps and low power.
On 3-16-9 I flew 498 miles non-stop back to Santa Rosa. Most of the flight was done between 1,000 and 2,000 AGL because that provided a modest tail wind. (Yes if you plan your route carefully you often CAN have a tailwind in both directions!) I flew up the state over the sierra foot hills in lovely weather. When I got to within 40 miles of home I ran into a wall of low clouds and occasional rain. My direct path to Santa Rosa was blocked by clouds streaming across the low mountains. I had to divert to the south along the San Francisco Bay to stay below the layer. Luckily the Santa Rosa airspace was VFR and I landed safe and sound, another 1,288 miles and 12 hours for the log book. The Hobbs now reads 426 hours.