A route less traveled!

Vance

Gyroplane CFI
Staff member
Joined
Oct 30, 2003
Messages
18,398
Location
Santa Maria, California
Aircraft
Givens Predator
Total Flight Time
2600+ in rotorcraft
I asked San Luis Obispo ATC for a straight out departure and they shot back “experimental 142 Mike Golf straight out approved, runway 29 clear for takeoff, Merry Christmas Vance!”

Seventy two degrees and the wind was a steady 8kts straight down the runway. I had just filled up at self serve and The Predator was flying sweetly. I checked the time, 14:10 and nowhere important to be until Sunset at 16:56. I pulled the power back and leveled off at 700 feet MSL to stay below the traffic.

The seven sisters were off to our right as we followed California Highway One toward Morrow Bay.

The sun reflected off the mist softening the view and adding a sense of distance.

The air cooled as we neared the shoreline and headed north.

I tracked our progress on the chart to make sure we stayed out of the Hunter Low E MOA that runs up the coast just north of Cayucos, 1,500 AGL to 3,000 MSL.

I could feel Morrow Rock stir the air as we ambled by at 500 feet.

The whitewater outlined the curve of the shoreline into the distance.

The little boats rested peacefully in the protected harbor masking the nature one of the most dangerous harbors in the USA.

We turned around with Cambria in sight and wandered back south along the shoreline.

The coast line became more rugged as we neared Montana Del Oro State park with its rugged cliffs, secluded sandy beaches, coastal plains, streams, canyons and hills.

We were catching lift where the sea breeze meets the hills and I pulled the power even further back. It felt as though the wind was rubbing her belly as she purred along.

As the waves crashed against the cliffs I could feel the power and imagined I heard the sound. I have spent time sitting on those cliffs, it is a timeless experience.

South along the shoreline and trouble
 

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South along the shoreline and trouble

South along the shoreline and trouble

A little further south and I could see the twin domes of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant. We climbed to 900 feet and gave the plant plenty of room. The restrictions were part of my Lockheed Martin briefing. Don’t loiter and don’t fly directly over it. Normal clearance applies but I gave it a little extra.

The last time I flew south from Morrow Bay past the plant I stayed further inland and it put us over some difficult terrain with lots of wires.

My skills and knowledge have improved since then and I found joy in that progress as we made our way south. I identified emergency landing spots that had eluded during my last passing. I worked to mitigate my overconfidence.

The nuclear plant resembles something from a science fiction movie stuck in the middle of some particularly wonderful wilderness.

The casual progress south continued with each moment providing some new magnificent vista. We flew close to the hills to catch the lift.

I would catch my breath as the earth would drop away where the ocean had won its battle with the cliffs and meadows.

It was nice to see the familiar sights of Avila Bay and we flew over the breakwater that defines its northern edge.

I am used to seeing Avilla Bay in the distance from the south.

The Avilla bay appeared placid and serene.

There were cars in the parking lot but Pirate’s Cove appeared somewhat deserted. The high tide had swallowed most of the sand.

The adventure continues to Lompoc.
 

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The adventure continues to Lompoc.

The adventure continues to Lompoc.

Shell beach seemed to have more than the usual whitewater.

I announced every odd mile to Oceano Traffic and it appeared there was none on this beautiful day to fly.

The usual suspects were frolicking in the dunes.

When we turned east 7 miles south of L52 I checked ATIS and called SMX ATC for a transition through their airspace to the south along highway 1 at 800 feet. It was approved as requested. Jerry then inquired; “Vance, did you just fly low directly over Diablo?”

I answered that I had just flown high past Diablo.

Jerry came back, “They have been looking for you, and the head of security would like you to give him a call. Are you headed for Lompoc? Can you write down a number?”

Jerry gave me the name and number. I wrote it on my kneeboard and read it back correctly as we flew along the road.

We were having such a lovely flight that it hardly made a dent in the mood as we made our way south over the highway toward Lompoc.

I called Lompoc area traffic over the ridgeline, inbound on the forty five, downwind, base and final.

I got a salute from a friend in his hangar and several waves as we taxied to fuel.

I filled out my log book and was surprise that it had taken an hour and a half to get to Lompoc from San Luis Obispo. Direct it would have been 35 nautical miles and around a half hour. Well done I said under my breath.

As I removed my helmet a thin military looking gentleman that I had not seen asked quietly, “Are you by chance Vance Breese?”

I imagined the worst as I introduced myself to Bob Hale. I was relieved to find that I had just flown over his house and he was very interested in gyroplanes. He had followed me to the airport.

Bob had flown with the 45th Medical Air Ambulance out of Long Binh. He flew three tours in Viet Nam starting in 1969 and was wounded twice. They taught him to fly in ten hours in Thailand. I felt I was standing with a giant.

Bob had inquired about gyroplanes at several FBOs and they had told him that “an old guy” named Vance Breese flies a gyroplane all the time around the area.

He was very polite and kept quiet as I struggled through the operation of self serve.

I explained the need to make a phone call before we could fly.

The head of security at Diablo Canyon said that three of his officers had reported that I had flown very low over the plant. He did not give away much with this tone.

I clarified that I was at 900 feet MSL and at least a quarter mile from the power plant. I elucidated about not wanting to appear to be loitering and wanting a place to land if the engine went quiet.

To my surprise he said, “These officers are not pilots, I am inclined to believe you. Everyone I talked to said you fly often and well.” I gave him my contact information and he said that would probably be the end of it. I pressed the end button and exhaled.

As I briefed my new friend Bob he kept reminding me that nothing is going to scare him. My brain injury, blindness and the experimental nature of the aircraft did not deter him. He listened as I described the maneuvers we would perform and Bob reminded me that they were not likely to scare him.

We did some steep turns, slow flight and a power off vertical descent followed by a power off landing. I missed my mark because of unexpected winds but the touchdown was nice enough to mask this inaccuracy. The sun was setting so I gave him my card and an invitation to have a proper flight to somewhere.

The flight back to Santa Maria put a nice cap on another lovely day of flying. ATC said, “Experimental 2 Mike Golf taxi to parking, monitor ground .9, Merry Christmas Vance.”

Bob sent me a text message Christmas Day to thank me for the early Christmas Gift. I called him back and we had a nice talk and I asked if I could use his name in the story and made sure my recollection was accurate.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Longing to scratch the itch!!!

Longing to scratch the itch!!!

Awesome fly-along post again Vance!

The more I complete of the ground school course the more it comes together - your well narrated adventures reinforce so much! I find myself practicing the radio calls & Google-earthing your path - so well described!

I'm checking Foreflight weather on the Ipad several times a day and planning fantasy flights on the sectionals.!! (I'm hoping my forest orienteering expertise will translate somewhat to the skill-set needed for XC flight!!!)

10days to PRA gyro-online-ground school --- I can hardly stand the wait! One more baby step!
 
Wonderful flight Vance. What a beautiful day! Thanks to taking me along again.

The red tile buildings ten o'clock of your nose at Avila Beach is the San Louis Bay Inn. Claire and I have stayed there many times in years past. A wonderful place to stay.

Happy to read Bob enjoyed his flight with you.

Wayne
 
Orienteering a plus!

Orienteering a plus!

Awesome fly-along post again Vance!

The more I complete of the ground school course the more it comes together - your well narrated adventures reinforce so much! I find myself practicing the radio calls & Google-earthing your path - so well described!

I'm checking Foreflight weather on the Ipad several times a day and planning fantasy flights on the sectionals.!! (I'm hoping my forest orienteering expertise will translate somewhat to the skill-set needed for XC flight!!!)

10days to PRA gyro-online-ground school --- I can hardly stand the wait! One more baby step!

Glad to have you along Chris.

I feel your orienteering will be a real asset to your dead reckoning and it sounds like you have a good attitude and passion enough to continue to improve.

The tricks I used to stay out of the MOA was to have a landmark, Caucus and a catch point in case I misread the land mark, Cambria. I also had an estimated time past Morrow Rock.

Having a waypoint every five minutes means that you are not likely to get more than 10 minutes lost. It is not too hard to backtrack that far.

The smoke stacks are good too because they are tall and usually show on the charts.

High altitude makes the navigation easier but for me it takes some of the excitement away.

My monacularity adds to the challenge and the mist exacerbates it.

I didn’t go south because there was Airmet Tango for moderate turbulence.

In my opinion learning to get a better sense of weather has value in cross country flying.

Flight planning is a sort of aviation foreplay for me.

I find pleasure in it and for me it enhances the flight.

I look forward to following your aviation journey and will help any way I can.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Fun to remember the good times.

Fun to remember the good times.

Wonderful flight Vance. What a beautiful day! Thanks to taking me along again.

The red tile buildings ten o'clock of your nose at Avila Beach is the San Louis Bay Inn. Claire and I have stayed there many times in years past. A wonderful place to stay.

Happy to read Bob enjoyed his flight with you.

Wayne

Glad to have you along Wayne.

It was a summer day December 24.

The wind was steady except when the flow was interrupted.

I liked the little hotel and took a picture of it.

Is this the one?

In fact I took 292 pictures.

I feel that Bob is going to be an interesting friend.

I am going to try to pull him into the gyroplane community.

I feel he is a great story teller and probably needs some adventure to spice up his life.

He was familiar with Santa Paula.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Thanks!

Thanks!

Thanks Vance for taking us all along! The "golden state" really is beautiful! Hope you have a good day today and a even better day tomorrow, thanks, Mike
 
Glad to have you along Mike.

Glad to have you along Mike.

I have found that a little altitude makes anywhere a more beautiful place.

I feel Iowa is a particularly pretty state.

The Iowa air museum is one of my favorites and I love the little farming communities.

I find the rolling hills especially alluring.

Ed and I look forward to flying around Iowa on our cross country journey.

Thank you, Vance
 
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Thank you for asking Jeff.

Thank you for asking Jeff.

There are actually nine sisters in the Edna Valley but I had already past two of them when I lifted off from the departure end of 29 and felt they shouldn't be included in the flight report.

The sisters are a chain of nine volcanic hills between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay with Morrow Rock being the last Sister at 576 feet.

Cerros San Luis at 1,292 feet and Islay Hill at 775 feet are on the other side of the airport and more than one plane has hit them.

I have heard it said that they were created over 20,000,000 years ago but no one remembers.

I have heard they are volcanic plugs of magma that welled up and solidified inside softer rock which has since eroded.

The first picture was from my flight when I made a right down wind departure to the east and show Cerro San Luis at 1,292 feet and Islay Hill at 775 feet.

The second picture is from the straight out departure and shows the edge of Bishop Peak at 1,559 feet, Chumash Peak at 1,257 feet Cerro Romauldo at 1,306 feet and Hollister peak at 1,404 feet.

The third picture is Morrow Rock at 576 feet and Black Hill at 665 feet.

The final picture is Morrow rock from the north after I had turned around.

Thank you, Vance
 

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Used to fly range sweeps at Hungry Lizzard MOA, Some times we would find Elk & deer.
30+ years ago. I can't be that old. . . . .
 
Getting old beats the alternative!

Getting old beats the alternative!

I have a similar experience Don and I cannot get used to being so old.

Beginning 45 years ago we would ride along Nacimiento-Fergusson Road through Fort Hunter Liggett because it was part of the Big Sur loop. We dodged more than a few deer.

We would ride out of Redwood City up to Skyline, over highway 17 to Santa Cruz, down highway 1 past Carmel and Big Sur stopping for an Ambrosia Burger at Nepenthe. We would continue south on Highway 1 and turn left at Nacimento-Ferusson Road and left on Jolon Road to King City. Up highway 25 past Hollister to Gilroy and then back up the 101 to Redwood City for clam chowder and a hot shower.

When I moved south in 1987 we would just do it in the other direction. I would take my customers over Nacimiento Fergusson road. I loved to stop at the top and look down on the coastline.

Things haven’t changed much over the years, The Predator is my motorcycle in the sky and I have moved south.

I don’t have so many friends to fly with but I get just as cold.

The Predator is more reliable than my Triumphs and Nortons were but not as reliable as my Harleys or Moto Guzzis.

I still love to roam far and wide without getting anywhere and now I don’t have to stop to enjoy the view.

It is Monday at 22:35Z and the wind is 300 degrees at 11 with gusts to 23kts.

I think I will go flying anyway I am at SMX and there hasn't been a big gust for a while.

Santa Ynez looks like a nice flight.

I love running the ridgeline in the wind.

Thank you, Vance
 
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72 degrees...sounds wonderful, Vance!

72 degrees...sounds wonderful, Vance!

As usual, your flight was a great one to follow along with. And, the photos added a nice touch to your narrative. Thanks for taking the time to do so!

Jealous as all get-out at the blue sky, sunshine, and warm temps...
 
70+ again today.

70+ again today.

I am glad to have you along Kevin!

It seems like I have taken several pictures of every photogenic object between SMX and SBP.

I find each flight unique but I am not able to capture that quality in the pictures and I struggle with the words.

Ed can with her more sophisticated camera, artists eye and she is not distracted by piloting tasks.

She has been working to help pay for Mariah Gale.

When we go a different way the pictures are new. I took 292 on this flight.

It was in the low 70s today, December 26.

The winds are back and oddly enough the mist was still here.

We flew the ridgeline to Santa Ynez and looped back to Lompoc for fuel.

I would not have been comfortable flying so close to the hills today.

I didn’t have my camera out because it distracts me in what I feel is a challenging flying environment.

I am trying to learn to be a better pilot.

It is fun to share our flying adventures.

I feel I need to keep working on my flying and writing skills for the book.

Thank you, Vance
 
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Hi Vance,

Yes, that is San Louis Bay Inn. It's now listed as a resort and part of a time-share group.The rooms are actually condos.

After re-looking at your photos, I notice the smaller kelp beds in the ocean. That shows the water is colder than normal and it is truely a "La Nina" year. Because of the smaller kelp beds, the migrating grey whales will swim closer to the shore line. That would be a great photo opportunity for you and Ed.

Wayne
 
Hi Vance,

Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your fun flight. I always enjoy reading the posts you do of your flights, and looking at the amazing pictures you have taken. What a truly great place you have to fly around.

Cheers

Barry
 
A Reciprocal Passion

A Reciprocal Passion

Your welcome Barry,

I love it that our passion for gyroplanes can reach around the world and share our common experiences.

I feel fortunate to have the forum to practice photojournalism.

I am trying to learn new skills and practice is the way to do it.

Most of the feedback is positive.

I have found that most places become more beautiful from 500 AGL.

I love where we live and fly.

I feel that Auckland is one of the most beautiful places on earth and I look forward to seeing your flying photos and reading of your flying adventures.

I suspect your photos will look a lot like ours.

Thank you, Vance
 
Viewing Whales!

Viewing Whales!

Hi Vance,

Yes, that is San Louis Bay Inn. It's now listed as a resort and part of a time-share group.The rooms are actually condos.

After re-looking at your photos, I notice the smaller kelp beds in the ocean. That shows the water is colder than normal and it is truely a "La Nina" year. Because of the smaller kelp beds, the migrating grey whales will swim closer to the shore line. That would be a great photo opportunity for you and Ed.

Wayne



Hello Wayne,

We have seen Dolphins often.

My camera is not capable of capturing them.

We have missed the Whales.

We don’t like to get too far from the shoreline at low altitude because we feel that The Predator would not manage a water landing well and recovering her might be a challenge..

Where do feel we would see the whales?

We are hoping to fly to Santa Paula Sunday, should we be looking for whales?

Thank you, Vance
 
The whales tend to travel in a staight line. As you know, the California Coast line is constantly curving along various areas.

In my experience, the whales tent to be close to any point at the end of each curved section such as Point Fermin, Point Mugu, Point Reyes, & Point Pitas. Flying along the coast line at the various points at 1,000 MSL, you should easily see the whales off shore close in to those points. Their wakes will show up really well, especially with the afternoon sun. You won't need to fly out over the water to get good photos.

Wayne
 
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