The Southwest – Return to the West Coast

The Southwest – Return to the West Coast

The next morning was cool, and looking out the tent we found that the airport was fogged in. After a couple of hours the fog burned off, so after breakfast it wasn’t too long before we could be on our way to our next stop, Shelter Cove.

The flight to Shelter Cove was smooth, heading West above the hills over scattered cloud. The airport soon appeared over the hills and we descended into the circuit to land; the golf course surrounding the runway was in use, and the players waved to us as we taxied to parking. We parked up in the same spot as on our last visit, 2 years before, and went to explore. The real-estate office, where the pilot’s lounge used to be, had closed down, the owners apparently moving to Florida. We lunched in the diner at the camp site, did a little shopping, and then set off for a walk.

Our destination this time was the black sand beaches to the North of town that we had seen on our way in. We headed up the hill, past the sign letting us know that we were leaving the Tsunami Warning Zone, and paused for a while to watch some deer which were grazing in a garden; at least, for once, they weren’t on the runway! The road that led down to the beach came to an abrupt end where it had been washed into the sea, and we gingerly picked our way around the damage on a hillside track that didn’t seem far from following the road to its fate. A beach of black sand was most unusual and we rested for a while before returning to the aircraft and pitching the tent before dinner.


We woke up early and packed up the tent. I called the weather briefer who reported that our lunchtime destination, Half Moon Bay, was still fogged in, so we set off to slowly make our way down the coast. First stop was Ocean Ridge, purely because it looked like an interesting airfield to land at. It certainly was interesting, perched on top of a ridge and surrounded by forest.

We parked up and chatted for a while with a couple of guys who were working on a Maule, and they recommended we proceed a few minutes down the coast to a private airfield by the name of “Sea Ranch”, and gave us a permission note in case anyone challenged us! The main attraction was an excellent bakery a few minutes walk from the runway, so this became our breakfast stop.

A long day of flying down the West Coast

We chased a couple of wild turkeys away from the runway and set off from breakfast in the direction of lunch. The flight to Half Moon Bay took us down the coast and over the Golden Gate Bridge, giving us a great view over the bridge and then San Francisco airport. Final approach to Half Moon Bay took us past the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, where we’d had dinner last time we came, and where we were planning to return to for dinner this time. We’d been given a tip for this weekend that it was possible to taxi down to an alternative parking area at the south end of the field. From here it was a short walk into the marina, and a good meal.

With the holiday drawing to a close, it was time to get back to Camarillo. We had to return the aircraft the next day, so we decided to stay overnight at Santa Maria, a short flight from Camarillo, and an airport with a good hotel on the field; we could park the aircraft right next to the door! Santa Maria is the airport most usually used as a finishing point for aircraft being ferried across the Pacific, inbound from Hawaii. I will visit it again in future, after a much longer flight than the one from Half Moon Bay! We ate dinner in the restaurant looking out over our parked aircraft and the runway, and enjoyed a television program about rabid foxes before turning in.


A short flight on the final morning took us back to Camarillo, where we said goodbye to N3513T. However, the flying was not over; we still wanted to get to Santa Catalina, so we set off for lunch there in the C172 RG with David, the Assistant Chief Flight Instructor.

On both the flight out and the flight back we routed overhead LAX, although not as low as we had done in 2007; this time we used VFR routes a little higher which required clearance from ATC through the Class B airspace. This was granted without difficulty; hard to imagine the British system being open minded enough to allow similar things over Heathrow!

We landed one final time at Camarillo; time to go back to Europe, and back to real life.

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