On Sunday, October 10th… touch and go practice at KCCR (Concord, CA) Buchanan Field. The weather was spectacularly clear, another beautiful fall day. The Bay Area was heading into a “Red Flag” warning with very high winds, typical for this time of year. My flight was a “go fly” before the winds picked up later in the evening (winds up to 45+ MPH on the hills and 30+ at ground level). I took off on Rwy 32R and the tower switched me to 19R…where I did a couple landings. There was a bit of a crosswind, but my landings were great. However, the tower felt another runway change was in order, so I was switched to Rwy 32L. Another touch and go, then a full stop. It was great to fly, and get a bit of crosswind practice.
This was my last flight of 2020 – touch and go’s on Runway 32R at Concord (KCCR) California. Winds were light and visibility excellent, as always the case between rainy periods. Filmed with an Iphone 5SE by Sue…as my Co-pilot. The runways at Concord were all given major repairs and surfacing over the summer, so this was actually my first use of Rwy 32R. Winds this time of year generally are brisk, and favor 1L&R and 19 L&R. This was a quick flight, only around the pattern twice, with the last an extended downwind for two Cessna twins arriving ahead of me.
On Sunday, as the day was coming to a close… I took 55G up for some touch and go practice at Concord. This was my first flight using my new GoPro Hero 8, mounted from the inside upper windscreen. The quality of the video is excellent. The flight was beautiful, with only a couple planes arriving or departing, clear visibility, and very light winds. This is a very special time of the day to fly, reminiscent of my days flying out of Hayward back in the 1980’s. I hope to be taking many more videos in the future.
We flew to Napa County Airport on a beautiful clear fall day, with calm winds and unlimited visibility. Sue was my co-pilot and took several videos and photos of the trip. We departed Concord with a downwind departure direct to Napa, flying over Benicia and Six Flags Marine World. There was hardly any traffic, and we were the only plane in the pattern at Napa. I landed on Runway 19L, which until recently had been Runways 18.. a year or so ago they changed due to the magnetic drift of the Earth’s pole. I learned to fly at Napa 46 years ago (September 1974) and my first solo (November 9, 1974), flying a 1968 Cessna 150H and a 1975 Cherokee Warrior. The airport has undergone a lot of changes over the years… hangars have been added on the south east side, the Japan Airlines flight school is long since closed, and the “famous” Jonsey’s Restaurant is a thing of the past. The delicious steaks cooked with a big rock to hold it onto the grill, the “special potatoes” and the fine old style lunch counter… all gone. They do still have a “Cessna Pilot Center”, but just about all the planes out on the ramp were Gulfstream G5 corporate jets, or twin turboprops. Even the old gas station out on the ramp has been replaced by fuel trucks, and the airport “observation deck” has been removed. Still, the open beauty of the surrounding fields and the waterways, and the wonderful Napa Valley to the north remain some of the best flying terrain anywhere. Our return flight was smooth, and once again, we were the only plane landing at Concord. We came in over the “Mothball Fleet” or what is left of it, and a nice final and smooth landing. A spectacular flight!
On a Saturday evening, after the Concord Tower closed at 6:00 pm, the visibility improved and the winds were calm. I decided to fly, after such a bout if inactivity. We have suffered runway construction, excessive heat warnings, nasty cross winds on the only runway still open… and worst of all the weeks of smoke from the tragic fires that have ravaged California. At times, air quality was deemed “hazardous” by the local authorities. Toss in Covid-19 restrictions, and the airport has not been a welcome place. Finally, I siezed the opportunity to fly and shed the layers of rust which have accumulated on my wings. The local radio frequency was silent, and I taxied out for take-off on Runway 19R. During run-up preflight, a Phenon jet reported being on a “five mile final”…He landed and cleared the runway, leaving the entire airport to me alone. I took the active and began my roll and climbed out into clear golden air, smooth and still. Three times around the pattern in left traffic for 19R, the correct direction as in the NOTAM for when the tower is closed. My landings were perfect, and it was evident I had not become rusty after all. The taxi in and shut down was “radio silent” as the solitude of this flight was unbroken by any airport interlopers. The sunset was magnificent, high clouds pierced by rays of the setting sun, and the gently tick sound of the cooling engine thanking me for our dance in the sky.
The “annual inspedtion” engine run-up… engine runs great! This year was quite extensive: new magnetos (Bendix), new mufflers, new ignition switch, new brakes, solenoid, and the big labor item, a new cylinder. We had a burned exhaust valve and the pressure check was only 60/80. These never get better with time, so since the mufflers were off, now was the time to do it. All that is left to do is break in the new cylinder. It’s good being airworthy again!!