Category Archives: CAF

Snow To The North

I understand that snow isn’t that big of a deal to most folks – it happens at least every now and then. Even here in La La Land it’s right there in the mountains for several months of every year and you can see the snowy mountains from time to time, and there are ski resorts within a two or three hour drive of downtown LA.

But the snow level doesn’t always get as low as 3,000 feet. When it does, for a couple of days every few years, the lower mountains that surround all of our valleys and coastal areas can get several inches and look picture postcard like for a day or two

Looking north from Camarillo Airport, you can see the mountains north of Ojai, Santa Paula, and Fillmore.

Hines Peak and other smaller mountains in the area go up to about 6,300 feet, more than high enough to pick up some decent snow accumulations.

Beyond them, Mt. Pinos goes up to 8,848′ and can often have snow until late spring.

This morning at the hangar it all looked very scenic. Then an afternoon and evening of soaking rain came and I’m sure the snow will all be gone below about 7,000′ by morning. But for the Sierra and ski resorts up above 10,000′ it will be an excellent start to the ski season!

Leave a comment

Filed under CAF, Photography, Weather

Things I Learned On My Morning Commute

If I’m fooled by the fact that it was relatively easy to get on the freeway… (Going past several schools and into a TERRIBLE intersection that gridlocks in a heartbeat means that a normal 6-7 minute drive to the freeway normally takes 12-15 on a good day and has taken as much as 25 minutes.)

And then I’m disappointed by the fact that the freeway was clogged and jammed and slow… (Once I get ON the freeway in the morning, it’s almost always been wide open, “maximum freeway speed” all the way to the office.)

And my head is distracted by a dozen different things… (There’s a lot going on!)

And the route to the new office is the same one as to the CAF hangars… (The old job was to the east, where the new job is to the west out on the 101 Freeway, just about half as far as Camarillo is.)

If I’m not paying attention it’s very easy to be sitting in the #1 lane, cruising along at 75 mph (“maximum freeway speed”, as opposed to the 65 mph speed limit) as I suddenly realize that the overpass I just went under was my exit to the office.

Oops!

Fortunately, there are exits every mile and I know the area well, having run it all repeatedly when training for the 2011 LA Marathon with a Road Runners group. Take the next exit, double back, five minutes wasted, a lesson learned.

That should have been the biggest problem I had today!!

Leave a comment

Filed under ALSA Golden West, CAF, Distracted Driving, Freakin' Idiots!, Los Angeles

Planets After Sunset

Once again, serendipity rears its ugly head!

A long day at the hangar meant that I was leaving just after sunset with a crystal clear (windy, dry, high fire danger) sky and a gorgeous sunset.

Not only was the gradient stunning, but so were those two bright planets!

That’s Jupiter on top (leaving the evening sky) and Venus on the bottom (entering it). I knew that Mercury might be seen under the right conditions, but was pretty sure that it had either set by this time or was really close to the horizon in the glare and probably not a naked-eye object.

So I checked.

(Image from StarWalkHD for the iPad)

Yeah, Mercury is last week’s news, already on the other side of the Sun, setting before it does. But…

Saturn’s up? I must have forgotten that.

I don’t see it in the photos above, but then, those photos had had the exposure shortened so they would closely resemble what I saw my eye was seeing. I had started by taking a couple of photos and letting the iPhone expose them, which meant they looked way too bright and the colors were all off. But with a longer exposure, maybe…

Click on the image, blow it up to full sized, then look to the upper left, just like in the StarWalk image.

See it?

How about now?

I would note for the record that, according to that image, Pluto is out there just above and to the left of Saturn. But given that I can’t see it even in a dark sky location with my 8″ telescope, I don’t think the iPhone 8 is pulling that one in.

Maybe I need an iPhone 11 Pro?

2 Comments

Filed under Astronomy, CAF, Photography, Space

Sky Crane

While the fires near us (never got closer than about 10-12 miles, but had over 100,000 people evacuated and major freeways closed for days, several dozen homes destroyed and damaged) are not out, the winds have died down, the onshore flow has resumed and raised the humidity back out of single digits, and the fires are contained enough so that the evacuations orders have been lifted and the freeways re-opened.

That having been said, the fires are still a long way from out. With the calmer winds and better humidity, the fire fighters are hitting the fires hard, particularly with “aerial assets,” that is, planes and helicopters.

One of the big helicopters (I think it’s an Erickson Sky Crane, but not 100% positive) was being based out of Camarillo (CMA) right near our hangars. It was fun to watch it come and go.

Warning – I would recommend against starting this video with the sound too loud or while wearing headphones! This sucker is really, REALLY loud.

The strobing effect of the video capture mechanism in the iPhone is also interesting – that tail rotor looks like it’s barely moving, but in fact it was going at hundreds if not thousands of RPM!

Leave a comment

Filed under CAF, Disasters, Flying, Photography, Video

Big Hangar, BIG Plane

At the CAF SoCal site in Camarillo (come out and visit us some time! if you’re there on Saturday, look me up, I’ll show you around – or you can go around with one of the docents who actually know what they’re talking about rather than making shut ip) we have three large hangars. They’re not small.

Then again, neither is our PBJ.

Semper Fi will fit in the maintenance hangar, but not with a ton of room to spare. When she moves in, a number of other aircraft have to move out. It’s time for a little engine work (sorry, she won’t be at those last couple of airshows this season) so the squeeze is on.

It is, however, SPECTACULAR to walk into the hangar under that tail and those huge wings! (Again, stop by…)

Leave a comment

Filed under CAF, Photography

Weight & Balance

Weight and balance are important things for all of us to keep an eye on in the universal, all-encompassing, meaning of life sort of philosophical zeitgeist sort of thing.

In a more direct, calculated, numerical viewpoint, they’re also pretty critical when flying an aircraft. Too heavy, the wings can snap off. If the center of gravity is too far forward, the plane will never climb and will nose over and dive into the ground. Too far back, and the nose will go high until you stall, at which point you can have a similarly “bad day.’

Removing a very large, heavy item from the front of an aircraft (i.e., the engine off of a Spitfire fighter) will seriously screw with your weight and balance. Good thing that no one’s flying the plane without an engine, huh?

It ’tis a thing of beauty and it will pull that high-performance fighter through the air like a bat out of hell.  2,000+ horsepower on a V-12 engine will do that.

Oh, by the way, last night I mistakenly referred to this as a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. It’s not. (But the one in the P-51 is…) While obviously a Rolls-Royce, this is a Griffon 65 engine. (Good thing no one actually reads anything that I write, eh?)

At the moment however, this one needs to be sent off for a complete tear-down and possible repairs. That will set us back well into five figures (please, let it not be six!) but we’re all about safety.

Now I’ll see if I’ve got enough balance to take my overweight butt into bed! Monday awaits

1 Comment

Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Spitfire Engine Removal

How exactly does one remove the engine from a Spitfire?

Very slowly and very carefully, apparently.

And with the use of a honkin’ big crane.

Given that a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (if you can find one – pro tip, you can’t) will run in the neighborhood of $500,000, this makes perfect sense.

Leave a comment

Filed under CAF, Photography