By lex, on November 22nd, 2009
Been having a yearning to go up and tour the warbird museum ** at Chino, and today got the chance to scratch that itch. Took Earl the Pearl up in Cardinal 217AF, since it had been a while. Did a downwind departure from Montgomery Field, and got Class B clearance from SoCal approach. Flight following up the 15, remaining east of the hang glider area at Lake Elsinore. Picked up the Paradise 052° radial outbound to take a lap in holding at CAZBY before shooting the ILS approach * to Runway 26R. An interesting approach, since the holding fix is defined off a different NAVAID than the actual approach itself.
Turns out there’s a bit of discussion in the general aviation world about the wisdom of single pilot flight in instrument conditions. Having many hundreds of hours of single piloted flight in hard IFR flying one or another high performance jet, I initially thought it stuff and nonsense. But the machines I used to fly were optimized for the role, the training standard was very high and we stayed on the cutting edge of proficiency.
These days, not so much, and it was good to have Earl along.
Nothing to brag about, but I was on and on at decision height (I practiced the flight in X-Plane prior to going flying, usually do for an unfamiliar field). Resisted the natural tendency to bunt the nose a bit when I flared with maybe five more knots than I needed on the landing – have to avoid the dreaded Cardinal “crow hop.”
Progressive taxi (ground controller play-by-play) to Flo’s **, an airport diner that is a delightfully unselfconscious throw back to the 70s. Ordered the fried chicken, which was only all right, but which came with a slice of garlic bread that was teh sex pretty darn good. My cardiologist, if I had one, would have blown a seal.
It gets dark at around 1645, and I’ve seen enough night flying to last me pretty much forever. Especially with all the cumulo granitus that’s in it. So we were unfortunately chased through the museum, one eye falling in love over and over again, the other watching with grim dissatisfaction as the sun streaked towards the western horizon like it had someplace else to be.
You’ve a right to roundly excoriate me for failing to bring my 35mm SLR, and the iPhone camera would never do them justice, those great, rough beasts that are parked in the museum. They’ve four (4) P-51s, which to my way of thinking is three more than anyone should have until there’s enough to go around. A lovely F4U Corsair (my first dream), a P-47, a P-38 and a nearly reconstructed B-17 out on the pavement, among others. Korean and Vietnam era jets too, which – classics though they might be – leave me strangely less moved than the radial engine set. The last flyable Zero with an original engine in it, I’m told. A Sherman tank. DC-3s and C-47s scattered hither and yon like afterthoughts. I could have spent hours, but time, tide and sunset wait for no man.
Met a man who had 35 missions in the ball turret of a B-17 in the Eighth Air Force. Purple heart and DFC. Bent by the years, but with a twinkle in his eye. I considered it an honor to share the same tarmac.
The Eighth Air Force lost more airmen in the European Theater of Operations than the US Marine Corps did in the entire war, said Earl. Who ought to know.
Got the Cardinal cranked up and we were on our merry, back to Montgomery just as the sun was winking on the horizon.
Would never in a thousand years drive to Chino. Thinking about maybe flying up there again next weekend.
It’s like that.
* 09-21-2018 Link Gone; no replacements found – Ed.
** 09-21-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.