Never does the Flying Carpet seem more aptly named than when journeying from snowy mountain Flagstaff to sunny Southern California.
However logical the climatology, it’s nothing short of magical to depart snowy pines and alight 2½ hours later amid swaying beachfront palms. Our neighbors Tim and Hedy Thomas had invited us for a weekend at their seaside rental condo, and for the first time we’d land at Oceanside Airport.
Although Oceanside’s 2700-foot runway is plenty long for a Skylane, it snuggles among hills so there’d be no room for sloppiness. Instructor Fred Gibbs recently admonished me for approaching a little hot, a habit developed to counter Flagstaff’s gusty winds. Shorter runways demand precise flying speeds, so I polished my short field technique before our trip. Our destination’s 28-foot elevation would further shorten our landing by lowering our touchdown groundspeed 10 knots compared to what I’m used to at 7,000-foot Flagstaff.
“There’s plenty of room: four transient tiedowns plus two more for overflow,” offered airport manager Dennis Easto. I was intrigued that half a dozen parking spots should be “plenty” in such a congested region.
We launched equipped for three climates. While shorts and swimsuits filled our luggage, the back seat brimmed with both winter and desert survival gear for any unscheduled landing. When the snowy Colorado Plateau and Bradshaw Mountains yielded to the parched Mojave Desert, we shed coats and opened air vents. Ninety minutes later we descended over Palomar Mountain into a green ocean paradise peppered with fuchsia flowers.
“You can smell the sea breeze from the cockpit!” said Jean, as we rubbed elbows with the famed observatory…
Read Greg’s May, 2013 Flying Carpet column, “Nothing Short of Magic.”
Top photo: Oceanside, California Beach and Pier. Upper right: Historic vacation cottages on Oceanside Beach. See more photos here.
©2013 Gregory N.Brown
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)