This evening, Matt and I used a really cool feature in webpage sharing feature in Yahoo! Messenger from WebEx and an equally cool website http://skyvector.com/ to plan our up-coming trip in May. The website basically has every Sectional Chart for the U.S. (they're the most up to date charts) and also has the weather available as a mouseover for a number of airports. What's more, when you click onto the airport, it will then open up a detailed page showing you information about the airport, runways, airport elevation etc etc etc. I just wish they had something similar to this for European pilots to use. Matt and I both commented that things like this really show how GA friendly the US is. They just love private pilots over there.
Anyway, we spent an hour coming up with a basic plan and working out destinations, things to do at each stopover, how many nights we'll stay and more importantly...WHERE we'll stay. Here's the plan we've come up with so far.
Depart Livermore (East of San Francisco, and where we'll be based when doing our aerobatics course) and fly to Lake Tahoe. We'll spend some time swimming in the lake and enjoying the scenery. Then in the evening, depart....
Lake Tahoe - Reno
At Reno, we'll sample the nightlife and casinos. We'll stay overnight in Reno with a friedn of mine who's relocating there soon.
Reno - Las Vegas
Again, we'll sample the nightlife etc in Las Vegas
Las Vegas - Grand Canyon - Las Vegas
We'll spend the day at the Grand Canyon, and will try to fly in/around the canyon too. We'll then fly back to Vegas and spend a second night there.
Las Vegas - Mojave Desert (Airplane Graveyard)
This is where a lot of old airplanes are parked and scrapped. It's an old airplane graveyard. But it is also home to Burt Rutan's company Scale Composites. This company won the "Ansari X Prize" for being the first private company to successfully launch a manned space vehicle into Low Earth Orbit, and so now the airport has been dubbed the "America's 1st Inland Spaceport". Here we'll spend some time looking at airplanes and being geeky pilots.
Mojave Desert - San Diego
We'll fly into our old school and spend time with our friends John and Janis. Hopefully we can go for a spin in their new Mooney. We'll stay over in San Diego as I'm sure there are a bunch of people who'll want to go for beers with us (I know John and Janis will be keen for sure).
San Diego - Los Angeles (via Santa Catalina Island)
Our plan is to land into LAX (just because we can) and mis it up a little with the 747's and multitude of other planes going in and out of there. Matt's a little apprehensive, so I told him I'd fly us in and he can do the radios, and then he can fly us out. I think he sounded happy with that.
Los Angeles - San Francisco
We'll spend a couple of days in San Francisco. I want to show Matt about because it's one of my favourite places in the U.S. and I'd love to show him around Napa and go wine tasting. We're also keen to get a flight in over the Bay Area, and I want to bring some of my friends up in the air too. And then sadly we'll ahve to give our plane back and head home to Europe.
All in all, if we get our aerobatics out of the way quickly, then we should have no problem squeezing in the flying with room to spare. And if we find we're running short, then we can always skip something along the way. I'm really looking forward to the trip. I'm looking forward to it for a number of reasons....firstly the flying, secondly sharing something so fun with a friend like Matt. He's a friend who's as passionate about flying as I am, and I think we'll have as much fun planning the flights together as we'll have sharing the flying. We'll be sharing the flying and radios and we've promised that whoever does the landing back at Gillespie (our old haunt) then the other will do the take-off but do one circuit for a touch and go before we depart. I'd kinda like to do the departure if I'm honest (heehee). It may even work out to be the case if we're planning on flying into LAX as out next leg. We'll wait and see of course.
One of the other reasons I'm looking forward to the trip is the fact that American girlies totally love when you tell them you're a pilot. I got Matt and I t-shirts for fun with "I'm a pilot" on the back, just to be a total arse. But the funny thing is that American's don't get sarcasm, so they'll think we're being genuine and they won't bat an eyelid...heehee.
There's still a lot more planning to do. For example, we have a lot of paper work to sort out to get our licences validated for the U.S. When we land Stateside, we need to go to the FAA and hand in our licences and get American versions which will allow us to fly there. It seems like it's more of a formality than anything else, so hopefully it'll al go smoothly.
Also, we still have NO idea where we're gonna live when we go to Livermore for the aero's course. I hope we find somewhere soon. AND somewhere that's not mad money. I'm counting the days until May....only 199 days left until we fly KLM's Big Blue Bird to San Francisco. I can't wait