Not that I need an excuse to go fly, but it doesn’t hurt to have one. A friend sent me a text asking if I had plans for Saturday morning. I told him I didn’t to which he responded that he was going to be out my way and wondered if he helped pay for some gas if I would take him flying. You Bet!!!
His first choice was to go looking for whales off the coast and do a little whale watching from the air. The Mooney is a great plane for travelling places fast, but you can also slow it down and have great loiter time while barely sipping fuel. I figured that we could head out over the channel, look for the whale watching boats to let us know where to look, stay at about 1,000-1,500′ (out of the way of the drones those boats like to use), and put all that “turns around a point” practice to good use. There were just a couple of problems with that plan. First, I don’t have any life jackets, and second I didn’t have enough time that morning. We decided that we would get some life jackets and go whale watching another morning when there was more time.
However, there was a flight to be made so we decided to go up over the ski resorts at Big Bear, transit around the lake, and the overfly Lake Arrowhead. I was a little worried that it might be bumpy given the forecast winds aloft, but the bumps never materialized. With the exception of a short spell on the north side of the lake it was as smooth as can be.
On the way back we detoured over the Lake Matthews training area. I asked if he wanted to fly her for a little bit so he took us on a few circuits around the lake. He later commented that this makes two times in his life that he has been at the controls of an aircraft, and both times were in a Mooney. (He apparently has great taste in what he will fly.)
After landing back at Corona and putting the plane away he asked how much he owed me for fuel. I told him not to worry, I would have gone and burned the fuel anyway, but if he wanted to buy lunch we could call it even, that sounded like a fair trade to me. Lunch was an In-n-Out cheeseburger (animal style), fries, and a Diet Coke along with good conversation. I got to go flying, spend some time with a good friend, and got lunch out of the deal, it doesn’t get much better than that.