Category Archives: Flying

Not An Aircraft You See Every Day

Out at the CAF hangar today we were taking delivery of an unusual aircraft.

It’s a Fieseler FI-156D Storch, a German designed WWII aircraft.

This one was partially disassembled for transport to us from San Bernardino County, with the fuselage on one truck, the wings on another, and the propeller, horizontal stabilizer and other parts coming in separately.

It’s a fixer-upper (as many CAF aircraft are) but that’s what we do, and this aircraft will probably be flying again in 2-5 years, depending on our volunteer manpower, workload, and of course, funding.

To be honest , this aircraft is in MUCH better shape than some we’ve gotten. Some are 15-20 year projects, if we’re lucky. Here we at least have an engine and all of the major parts.

A peak inside the floor of the cockpit, showing the foot controls for rudder and brakes.

And the big picture at the firewall, engine mounted to the left, controls and cockpit on the right.

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

Random Old Photos – March 23rd

Mr. Peabody, set the WayBack Machine to April, 2006, a bit less than fifteen years ago. I was in my MBA program at Pepperdine and I remember being out in the Riverside area for something. It just so happened that there was an airshow at March ARB out there that weekend, so I stayed the extra day and went to see the Thunderbirds and all of the other planes.

My photography skills weren’t quite up to snuff at the time (I think I had just gotten the telephoto lens and was deep into the learning curve of how to use it) but if you take 1100+ pictures in a day, a few of them probably won’t suck.

It’s odd to see some of our current CAF SoCal aircraft there, although it’s before the name change, and I don’t recognize the pilots. (It was about seven years before I got involved with the local Wing, but I might have been a member by that time.)

It’s also odd in today’s world to see tens of thousands of people packed together in the shade under a B-52 or up against the flight line fence when the jets are flying, and not a single face mask in sight.

The face masks may linger in the future, and it’s not impossible that they’ll become the norm in crowds just because the world has changed, but I am looking forward to at least getting together with 100,000 of my closest friends to watch aircraft fly for the day. Maybe later this year, more likely next year – most of the local airshows are either canceling or on the brink for 2021.

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Filed under Airshows, Flying, Photography

Hiker Down, Choppers Up

Just to our west about three-quarters of a mile you get into some park and wilderness areas, with Castle Peak the most prominent feature. I’ve shown it to you many times since we moved in here almost two years ago.

Folks go hiking here (which is good) and occasionally have an accident (which is bad).

Much like my experience with the cargo 747’s going overhead and rumbling the house, our first indication of a hiker in distress is usually the sound of multiple loud LA City or County Fire Department helicopters orbiting repeatedly past our house.

The green line will show their path over the last hour or so… This guy was the eyes, followed by the actual rescue crew.

And if we need confirmation,

What did we do before we had these supercomputing telecommunication devices in our pockets? Just stand out in the yard and wonder what the helicopter was doing?

More importantly, what did the hikers do before they had them, or had rescue helicopters? I mean, besides bleed and pray to be found by someone friendly before the coyotes found you first?

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Filed under Castle Willett, Flying

C-47 Dakota

Not something we see every day, at least, not with the engines running!

The American Aeronautical Foundation has a couple of planes out at Camarillo and rents space in our hangar and on our ramp. (Their B-25, “Executive Sweet,” is excellent!) This is their C-47 Dakota, which hasn’t flown in a while.

But they’ve been putting a ton of work into it recently and today was the first day that I’ve seen where the engines have been running and it was moving around the airport under her own power.

Here you see it alongside our C-46 Commando, “China Doll.” The C-47 didn’t fly today, at least not that I saw, just taxied around the airport and ran up the engines. But they’ve got to be getting close!

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Maybe I’ve been to too many airshows (like there could ever be such a thing!) or maybe I’m just attuned to the noises that planes make, but I’ve recently noticed something and tested out my theory yesterday.

Sometimes when I’m working in my home office I will hear a deep rumbling that will last for several minutes. It’s plenty loud enough to get my attention, almost like a large semi idling while parked outside – but we’re on a narrow side street at the top of a freakin’ huge hill, so we get very, very few big trucks up here. They can come up here – the trash trucks are weekly visitors, and every now and then we’ll get a big moving truck or something, but they’re rare. So when I start noticing these sounds several times a week, I got curious.

Yesterday it was cloudy and cool, and that might have helped with the acoustics. But when I heard the sound and it had been going on for a minute or two, long enough to register, I went outside to look. The sound was quite distinct, but fading off to the north. A quick check of my FlightRadar24 app confirmed my suspicion:

We may be on a very narrow, steep hill which discourages trucks, but we’re also directly under the flight path for jumbo jets heading from LAX to Asia. While a great many of the newer big jets have much quieter engines, the older jets are noisy, and many of them have been converted for cargo. That rumbling I had just heard was a KAL cargo 747 headed to Seoul.

Is it repeatable?

Two hours early I heard it again and didn’t wait, immediately went outside. Too cloudy to see anything, but the app showed that it was another cargo 747 headed to Seoul, this time from Atlas Air.

I love the sound of jet engines in the morning! Or, in this case, the late afternoon and evening. Or whenever.


Filed under Flying, Los Angeles

CMA’s Neighbors To The South

The CAF Southern California Wing’s hangars are at Camarillo Airport (CMA) and we have a neighboring airport just a few miles to our south, the Naval Air Station Point Mugu. It’s a great place for an airshow every couple of years (if we can ever get this COVID-19 bullshit behind us) and they fly some out of there, but there’s not a ton of air traffic in and out of there. It’s not like living next to MCAS Miramar or NAS Oceana where you can see a pretty steady stream of fighters, cargo aircraft, and reconnaissance missions.

But as I was leaving yesterday, this big guy was lumbering in from the north, hanging there exactly the same way that bricks don’t.

He was a ways off, turning to final approach, but I’m pretty sure that’s a C-5 Galaxy. Usually the cargo planes going into Point Mugu are the smaller C-130 Hercules (back when I was flying I had a couple of them on long finals that I gave a wide berth, because the wake turbulence can be a bitch and a half if you’re in a tiny Cessna!) but today we had something large being moved.

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Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography

The Scenic Tour Of LA Airspace

We live under the flight path for Burbank Airport, about fifteen miles out on the straight-in approach to Runway 8. In normal times, that means a few dozen 737’s a day coming from west to east at about 5,000′. Especially as a pilot, I know what’s normal.

Tonight I went out to look at the Christmas lights and get some air and there was a Southwest 737 going overhead from north to south. That’s odd. It could be that the winds had shifted and they were landing on Runway 33, but the winds weren’t blowing. Odd.

So I pulled out my phone, called up the FlightRadar24 app, and checked to see who it was above me. Southwest Airlines flight 605, from Phoenix to Burbank.

You can see where Burbank airport is (the pin just below and to the left of the “210” interstate icon, where the dashed black line going from the aircraft ends) and that green line shows the plane’s flight path.

This is not normal.

I called up the ATC Live app (Air Traffic Control) and started listening to the conversations between the plane and the Burbank tower. They were asking “how much fuel and how many souls onboard,” which is critical information in an emergency situation. It was obvious pretty quickly that they were having trouble with the flaps on the plane, couldn’t get them fully deployed, and weren’t going to be able to land at Burbank. With no flaps they would be landing fast and it would take a long time to slow down, so they needed a long runway. They headed off to LAX.

I followed the conversations through LAX Approach ATC and then LAX Tower. They cleared out some other traffic going into LAX, took a couple of opportunities to circle around a bit to buy time to slow down, and finally got down safely at LAX. There were some conversations about whether or not they might need to stay on the runway for an inspection (I’m sure their tires and brakes were really hot trying to slow down from a very fast landing) and whether or not they might have shed any debris (like from a broken flap or a burst tire) onto the runway, which would interfere with any planes landing behind them, but in the end it all turned out pretty well, all things considered.

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Filed under Flying

Random Old Photos – October 14th

About ten an a half years ago. Apparently we were out on a “drag.” (We never walked, I always got dragged.) It took a minute to recognize the location, off on a side street near the old house.

And there was a B-17 flying around.

The camera was my old digital Olympus “adventure” model – waterproof, rugged, supposedly would float if I dropped it. Great little camera, but the pictures weren’t nearly the quality or detail of today’s DSLRs, or even today’s phones. So I can’t be sure which B-17 it is, but my guess would be that it was the one owned by the Collings Foundation’s, Nine-O-Nine.

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Filed under Dogs, Flying, Photography


If you’ve never taken a flight in an open cockpit plane, I highly recommend you try it!

This is our PT-19 trainer out at the CAF Southern California Wing in Camarillo.

Boarding is a little bit different than on Southwest or United – just climb up onto the wing, stay on the black strip, flip a leg over, and settle in.

In the back seat you’ll have that stick moving around and the rudder pedals moving back and forth as the pilot flies the plane. Try not to hit those unless you’re flying the plane. Those other knobs and levers are for fuel and throttle and flaps – don’t touch any of them, either. Just enjoy the view!

It’s not super fast – top speed is barely 100 mph. It’s still a joy to fly in.

If you want to fly and you’re in SoCal, get in touch with us once the COVID thing is over. (We’re all grounded right now.) We can make that happen!


Filed under CAF, Flying, Photography


We hear helicopters pass by all the time – LA’s a busy place. Between police, fire, television, traffic, military, and just business aircraft, helicopters are not uncommon.

But most are just passing by. When you hear that heavy beat from a big one and you hear it for five, ten, fifteen minutes, then something’s going on. If it’s circling, that’s always a police helicopter. If it’s hovering, and REALLY making a racket and rattling the windows, then it’s probably a fire department chopper. Which in turn means one of two things: a brush fire (not uncommon right now) or a rescue.

Today it was another rescue, the second in about three weeks.

You’ve seen plenty of pictures of Castle Peak that’s directly off to our west, with the baseball and soccer fields at their base. You’ve seen it on fire, you’ve seen it under a comet, and one of these days you may see the view looking back this way. It’s in a wilderness park and folks climb it all the time. Folks also underestimate the difficulty level of the climb all the time. And if they fall and break a leg, or collapse due to heat exhaustion, they need to get rescued, often by helicopter.

When I finally paid attention to the fact that I had been “feeling” the beat of that heavy, hovering helicopter (I had on my noise cancelling headphones) and went out, it was just descending below the neighbor’s house, down onto the baseball fields. I could hear the engine wind down but not stop, holding there for about ten minutes as the patient was offloaded into an ambulance.

I was hoping he would come right overhead – if it were an LA County helicopter he would have, heading back to Van Nuys Airport to the east. The one a couple of weeks ago did, and he ended up making a couple of trips from the mountain to the baseball field, so there might have been several folks hurt.

Today we got one of the Ventura County helicopters. (They’re blue and yellow, LA County’s helicopters are orange and white.) Not sure what the distinction is that would cause them to call one or the other, although the county line does run right along the base of the mountain on this side. Maybe it depends on where exactly you get hurt?

When he was done he went straight back out to the west, toward Camarillo Airport. Their base is right next to our CAF hangars out there, so I’m familiar.

What if you get hurt on the Ventura County side, but roll down the mountain to the LA County side? Do they each take half?


Filed under Flying, Los Angeles, Photography