French Valley Friend Dinner Fun Run

It is always fun to take someone else flying. It was a slow slog on the freeways to get to the airport, but as always it was worth it. I have a friend who has been in a small plane before, “a long time ago” to use his words, but…

Written by
Richard Brown
Published on
23 Aug 2017
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It is always fun to take someone else flying. It was a slow slog on the freeways to get to the airport, but as always it was worth it. I have a friend who has been in a small plane before, “a long time ago” to use his words, but I have wanted to take him up for quite awhile. We weren’t sure if today was going to work out because of his work schedule, but thankfully it did. The plan was to let him do a little flying over Lake Matthews before going to French Valley (F70) for dinner.

He met me at the airport and I did my best to explain everything as I was going through the pre-flight inspection. Those of you that haven’t taken someone new up for awhile should do so. The fun started with the pre-flight and lasted until we put the plane back in the hangar.

After pre-flight we pulled the plane out and climbed in. I had warned him that there is “no good way” to get in or out of the right seat in a Mooney, but he did well. I went over different instruments and some of how a little bit of the aerodynamics involved in flight. He has flown, and landed, some big planes in the simulators that FedEx has, but cruising around in a small plane is different.

Once the run-up was done we took the runway, pushed the throttle all the way in, and were soon in the air. As we were climbing out at about 100 mph he looked over and said “This is so cool.” We turned cross-wind and then departed along the foothills to the south-east while climbing to 3,100′. As we approached the quarry to the west of Lake Matthews I flipped over to 123.5, the Lake Matthews frequency.

Me: “Lake Matthews traffic, white and gray Mooney, 3,100′, just west of the quarry, inbound will be maneuvering along the south edge of the lake, Lake Matthews.”

It was quiet with no one answering back which isn’t unusual for a weekday evening. I gave him control of the plane and told him to just fly us around keeping it close to 3,100′ and once we got to the end he could turn us and bring us back along the north shore and dam. After a bit there was another plane inbound on the radio from Chino but we were higher than them and departing the area before they arrived.

At one point he asked if we were turning too steep. I told him we were only at about 20° and that we could go up to 60° but not past that. After explaining that you have to perform steep turns at 45° for your check-ride I asked if he wanted to see one. A 45° left bank and 360°’s later I rolled it level and he commented that “that’s pretty steep.”

I gave the plane back to him and told him to take us over the 15 freeway and just navigate along it to the south keeping us at about 3,100′ which he did very well. I had pulled the prop back to 2,400 and the throttle to 20″ just to cruise leisurely along at about 150 mph true air speed and our ground speed was hanging around the 140 mph mark. The winds at French Valley were coming out of the south so we maneuvered so that we could make a straight in on 18. He flew us until we were about 5 miles away.

I had been announcing our position starting at 15 miles out. As we were about 7 miles out I heard a Cessna that had taken off on 18 making his crosswind turn. I had missed whether he was staying in the pattern. (Maybe he announced it before taking off and maybe he didn’t, I’m not sure).

Me: “Cessna, I missed your first call, are you staying in the pattern?”
Cessna: “Yes, you’re making a straight in approach?”
Me: “We’d like to if we can, not sure if you would be ahead of us or want to extend out.”
Cessna: “We’re just turning downwind, not sure how fast you are, we’re looking for you.”
Me: “I’m about five miles out.”
Cessna: “We are close to turning base.”
Me: “Ok, I have you in sight, I’ll swing to the east and come in behind you.”

After a short turn to the east for spacing behind the Cessna we turned back, got lined up on final and came right down the glidepath to settle in for a very nice landing. (It is always nice when you can make a nice landing the first time you have someone new in the plane).

I’ve said it before, French Valley has a nice little restaurant. I had their chicken/bacon/avocado sandwich this time and it was excellent.

After a great dinner and great conversation we headed back outside to the plane at about 8:45pm. As I looked up at the sky I saw the clouds rolling in from the south. Above the airport and to the north (where we were headed) you could still see stars. After taxiing down to the end of 18 and a short run-up we were taking off. I made an early crosswind turn and then turned downwind heading north. As we slipped through the night sky, looking at the lights, I told him that if we had finished eating 30 minutes later we would have been leaving the plane at French Valley and taking an Uber back. (I checked the metar when I got home about 45 minutes after we left French Valley and it was socked in with an overcast at 700′).

A short flight later we were landing at Corona. It wasn’t as nice as the previous one at French Valley, but it wasn’t terrible either. We put the plane away, and decided we needed to do it again. I just need to make sure that it doesn’t take as long before we go again.

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