I was getting my logbook caught up and realized I’m at 395 hours, a little over three years from my check ride, it’s been almost three years since we bought N78878, and I need to do a much better job at sharing the wonder of General Aviation flight with people.
I’ve taken Josh and Sarah flying before with their dad but while Sarah got to fly the plane Josh didn’t get that chance. The forecast was haze in the morning so we planned for a 10am departure from Fullerton (KFUL) over to Riverside (KRAL). I went to the airport early to spend some time straightening up the hangar (it’s a mess) and to clean the plane and pre-flight it without distractions. My wife picked them up and they arrived just before 9:30am.
After an abbreviated pre-flight to show them the things I look for I pulled the plane out, we all got in, started up and taxied down to perform a run-up. With run-up complete and taxi clearance we made our way to runway 24 and following a brief delay for landing traffic we were given clearance to takeoff and make either a left or right downwind departure to the east.
The tower gave us a hint that there could be some bumps. We were at about 2,500′ and just about to depart KFUL’s airspace and the tower asked for a pirep (Pilot Report) on the winds. I took a look at the airspeed indicator and then at my ground speed on my tablet and told him we had about a 20 mph headwind. Passing just north of Santiago Peak we started to get bounced around a little and that continued the rest of the flight.
Riverside tower was juggling quite a few planes and told me to fly the 91 freeway to the auto center, but then about a minute later told me to cross over the field at 2,500′. We had already descended to 1,800′ and I thought he might have mixed us up with someone else.
Me: “Riverside tower, Mooney 878, did you want us to climb to 2,500, cross mid-field and then come around and enter the pattern? You had us flying the 91.”
Tower: “Sorry, continue to follow the 91, you will be number two behind a Seneca on a 1 mile file, 27 cleared to land.”
Me: “We have that Seneca in sight, number 2 cleared to land 27, 878.”
The reported winds were “Variable” and that is about the best way to describe them. On the downwind leg we were still seeing a headwind, on short final I had full rudder in to keep the nose straight down the center-line. The landing was more exciting than most, but the kids enjoyed it even if my wife didn’t… After we parked I got out and could see the flag at the east end of the field was showing winds out of the south, the windsock at the west end of the field was showing winds out of the north, and the winds in the traffic pattern at 1,000 AGL were from the east.
Brunch was good and by the time we were leaving the winds had at least decided what direction they were going to come from, the ATIS was reporting winds from 360 at 11, gusting 19. The ATIS also said the runway in use was 34. The last time I had used 34 at KRAL was in my Private Pilot Training when we asked for it to practice crosswind take offs and landings.
We flew south to the Lake Matthews training area where I turned the plane over to Josh to fly us around a little bit. He did a great job taking us around the lake, west over Corona, and then over Chino Hills before I took control of the plane near the water treatment plant and called up Fullerton tower to request landing. Josh loved flying, even if my wife was having some flashbacks of my first flight when she was in the backseat of the Cherokee.
We were cleared straight in but with the haze it would be a couple minutes before we could see the airport about 5 miles out. The winds were 260 at 4 which made for a nice stabilized approach and a smooth landing on runway 24.