We had wanted to fly to Big Bear last Saturday but it was late in the day before the clouds cleared so we drove instead. However, the morning of July 4th dawned clear so we decided to take advantage of it for a much quicker trip up the mountain.
After fueling up we took off on 25 for a left downwind departure and climbed through the haze. We leveled off at 9,500′ and with a brisk tail-wind we were seeing 170 mph across the ground as we passed the dam at the west end of the lake. Other than a few bumps as we passed the mid point of the lake it was fairly smooth. I misjudged the winds and overshot the base to final turn a little but there was plenty of time to still get lined up and settle in for what was one of my better landings of recent times.
We were looking forward to breakfast at the Barnstorm Restaurant that we had read good reviews of, but upon walking inside we found out that the restaurant was closed for the day. Instead they were in town at the celebrations providing bar-b-que.
It was not to be a total loss of a trip, Thelma’s is just about two blocks from the airport and has excellent food. (Funny, we had eaten lunch there last Saturday.)
We took the short stroll over the Thelma’s and found a table outside with a nice cool breeze in the shade. Is it normal to get an appetizer for breakfast? I’m not sure but we went ahead and got one anyway. All that was left of the biscuits and gravy was a picture of the gravy…
Breakfast was excellent. I had the cinnamon roll french toast with sausage patties, my son had the Chorizo Burrito, and my wife had “The Special.” Having thoroughly enjoyed a slice of apple pie a few days prior we bought a whole pie to go!
Back at the airport after a walk-around we climbed back in and taxied down to the run-up area where the big sign showed the density altitude to be 8,780′. (Because density altitude situations have caused fatal crashes they have a sign that gives you the current DA). I had taken off from Delta, UT with a density altitude of 8,100′ before but this would be the highest. The runway is 5,850′ long and taking off to the west you don’t need much altitude to head out over the lake where you have plenty of time to gain altitude.
I leaned the mixture for best power, rolled onto runway 26, and pushed the throttle in. Normally I would be off the ground before 1,000′ but knew it would take longer with the thinner air, but I was pleased to see that we were in the air by about 1,300′ and seeing about 300′ per minute climb rate.
The flight there was about 30 minutes as most of it was in a climb, but the flight back was only 20 minutes. Once you are past the mountains it is all downhill…
Although I have flown over Big Bear a couple of times that was my first time landing there, we’ll definitely be back.