Stranded In The Southland

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A First and a Worst

Woo hoo -- I took up my first passenger Saturday! I'd been planning to head up to Barstow-Daggett to see the high desert and get in some cross-country time, and my buddy S. decided to tag along. He had fond memories of flying with his dad when he was younger, and disregarded my repeated warnings about how 70% of accidents happened to folks with less than 100 hours in type and that I had about 65 hours, total, in any type at all.

We had a great flight up, although I have to admit that I was hoping that the Cajon Pass would look a little more exciting from the air. ATC put us up a little bit higher than I'd planned (9,500 feet) so that might have been part of the problem. The air was beautifully clear (and surprisingly calm), so we could see practically to the oceans and to the Sierras. It was amazing.

Daggett is an untowered field, so you have to self-announce on the radio as you get close, and sort of figure out where everybody else is and try not to hit anybody. There was nobody around, so it wasn't a big deal, but I haven't done it much, and spent a lot of my time concentrating on doing the right thing on the radio.

As it turned out, a bit too much of my time. On final, I was high and to the right. I turned back to the left, overshot, corrected back, and wound up looking at a touchdown point about a third of the way down the runway. Well, it was a 6,000 foot runway, and plane usually takes around 2,000 feet to land, so that wasn't a big deal, but this was still my worst approach ever. Given the lack of traffic and huge runway, I didn't worry, put it down gently, and had over 1,000 feet of runway left after I got stopped.

Daggett turned out to be a delightfully quiet (as in, you don't even hear birds or insects) and dilapidated old WW-II base, with some cool old peeling wooden hangers and some pleasantly strange guys at the FBO (gas station) who sold us sodas. I'd definitely go back, just to drink in the high-desert funkiness. Woo hoo!