Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Lake Tahoe Page 1 of 2

Flying Stories for October 26, 2012

Stampede Reservoir

Stampede Reservoir Near Truckee, CA..

I only have one article this week – about model airplanes. But I do have a few photos I took while flying this weekend. While the east coast is getting hammered we are having beautiful weather. Near calm winds, moderate temperatures and clear skies. I had no choice but to take advantage of the great days and  got into the air both Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday I just flew around locally for about 45 minutes – nothing exciting. On the way back to the hangar I stopped and topped off all the tanks figurine that I’d be flying again soon.

Sunday I flew down to Minden for a late breakfast. I took the ‘lake route’ down and the ‘valley route’ back to Stead. Both routes stay out of the Reno Class C airspace, one to the west and one to the east. I don’t have anything against talking to them (other than it’s NORCAL Approach rather than Reno Approach) I just like the longer flights and different scenery.

As I said, it was a beautiful day – the water was glass-smooth on Lake Tahoe.  I was surprised that I only saw one boat on the lake. It’s definitely too cold for water-skiing, but renting a power boat for sightseeing would be fun. It was a good day for watching contrails, too…


Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe looking southwest from near Spooner Summit Pass  on the east shore.

Genoa, Nevada

Genoa, Nevada at the base of the Sierra Range just west of the Minden Airport( KMEV).










Here is an article that you may have missed this week:

Model aircraft take to the skies at show
This is from DelmarvaNow dot com in the Delaware/Maryland area. The Mid-Atlantic Radio Kontrol Society had their annual RC Air Show recently. The article is a nice overview of the event with a little video thrown in for good measure – when I read it there was a single comment submitted concerning the article – a good one…

My How Time Flies

Another Happy New Year to you all. As you can see, I finally finished my website migration and theme update. I hope you find it a little easier to read. This time I automated the rotation of the aviation quotes and the random aircraft photos so you’ll see something new each time the page loads.

Way back last year I flew out a couple of times for fun and have been meaning to tell you about the good times. One flight was to the Minden-Tahoe Airport (KMEV). It’s a pretty short flight (41 NM) if you go direct from Stead (KRTS), but that requires transiting the Reno Class C. Lunch at the Taildragger Cafe. They (NORCAL Approach – go figure) are usually pretty friendly and have no problems with the transition. The whole flight can be made west of their main runway centerlines. The occasion was a meeting for lunch that I had been trying to schedule with a fellow NWA retiree. Our schedules finally coincided with good weather up here in the mountains. Doug-1 (you’ll see the reason for the number in a minute) had just sold his C-150 taildragger and purchased a 180HP RV-6. That’s quite a step up in performance. I was really interested in seeing his new ride. When I had last talked to him he said that he thought another former NWA pilot might be interested in coming along, too. I assumed he was going to fly up with Doug-1, but it turns out that Doug-2 flew up in his own plane – a Wittman Tailwind. Doug-1 is based at the Auburn, CA airport (KAUN) and Doug-2 is based at Grass Valley (KGOO).

It was a really nice lunch meeting. We had all flown together on one type of airplane or another while we were with Northwest – so there were plenty of stories to go around. Funny, none of us regrets being retired. Doug-1 was the only one of us who had an option in the matter, though.  We vowed to have another ‘ old guys fly-in’ and to see if we can’t make it a regular thing.  I decided to take the ‘long’ way back to Stead  rather than traverse the Class C again.  I headed northeast out of Minden and flew up the next valley to the east of Reno until I got to Pyramid Lake and then turned toward Stead. It was a nice flight with light winds and I got a little more time on the plane.

A week or two later I woke up to another beautiful day in the mountains and decided it was time to go fly someplace for a late breakfast. Grass Valley Airport(KGOO) I hadn’t been to the Auburn airport for a while and I knew they had a nice restaurant on the field, so I pointed myself that way. It was a nice 40-minute flight, mostly downhill.

The field elevation of the Stead Airport is 5150′ and the Auburn airport is at 1531′, but Donner Pass is between the two airports. Going west I usually cross over the pass at 10,500′ and east at 9500′.  That day the winds were light again and there were only a couple of light bumps going over the pass.  On the way there you can see the Grass Valley Airport off in the distance to the north. You can also just make out the Sutter Buttes in the central valley of Northern California – a bit hazy in the valley that day.

This happened to be a Saturday morning, so when I got to the restaurant I found all but a couple of tables already occupied. I grabbed a small table along the wall and then watched two more planes taxi in. Good timing.

I had a nice omelet and read a back issue of Light Plane Maintenance that I had brought along.  Donner Pass looking north. After a short stroll through the local Pilot Shop I headed back home  with a new t-shirt in hand to prove I made the trip. I flew back to Stead at 9500′. This first photo is out the left side of the plane, looking toward the north as I crossed Donner Pass. You can see that I’m just about at the tops of the mountains on the north side of the pass – though the pass itself is posted as being just a bit over 7000′.


This next photo is the view to the south-southeast in the same area.


Donner Pass looking south.

In the foreground you can see Interstate 80 which in this area runs between Reno and Sacramento. Just past the highway you can see the Boreal ski area at the Donner Pass summit. We just finished the driest December on record, so that is all man-made snow on the slopes.

The water on the left side is Donner Lake. Right on the edge of the photo above the lake you can see the edge of a brown area that is the location of the Truckee-Tahoe Airport (KTRK). Tthe ski area on the mountain in the background is the Northstar at Tahoe Resort ski area. Just over the ridge to the right of Northstar you may be able to make out a little of Lake Tahoe.

Great weather, beautiful flying, good friends and $200 omelets – what more could you ask?

A Flight with a Lesson

Today was a really beautiful day for flyingBalloon flying near Reno-Stead Airport. – clear, cool and light winds. I figured that I ought to take advantage of the nice day  while I could. When I got the the airport the temperature was 28 degrees(F) and there were already a couple of planes in the pattern.  There was also a balloon inflating out to the northeast of the runway. I stopped at the hangar and plugged in my home-made engine preheater, closed the hangar door and drove to a local Starbucks for some coffee while I sat there and read a magazine. I got back the hangar about an hour later to find the cowling feeling toasty warm.

The hangar across from me was open and my friend Paul was there and about to pull his 182 out to fly to breakfast. He had a friend with him who I had met before and they both asked if I was interested in coming along. C-182 enroute to KTVL. Sure – they were going to South Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL) to meet more friends. We did a quick briefing on our plan for the flight and headed out to the runway.  It was a nice flight to the lake and then a jog to fly down the eastern shoreline to the airport on the south end of the lake.

Lake Tahoe is 22 miles north-south and 12 miles east-west with an average water surface level at 6200 MSL. There are five major peaks around the lake with elevations from  9700 MSL to 10,900 MSL.  Today the water was glass smooth with hardly a boater in sight. At breakfast we had a short discussion about the hazards associated with flying down the center of the lake – following the imaginary CA-NV state line.  The glide ratio of the aircraft has to be a major factor in the decision as well as the cruising altitude. The Swift has a glide ratio about the same as a crowbar – so venturing very far from shore at our 9000′ cruising altitude wasn’t advisable.  The water temperature at Tahoe today was somewhere between 45 and 50 degrees (F). That means you would have 30-60  minutes of treading water before you were either exhausted or lost consciousness and 1-3 hours until death if you could stay afloat. Drop the water temperature below 40 degrees and you cut those times in half.  Minimize Risk – fly the shoreline.

We had a nice breakfast at The Flight Deck Restaurant on the airport. Inactive control tower at South Lake Tahoe Airport (KTVL). We had a group of 9 people. Some were vacationing at the lake and others had flown in from a fly-in community near Carson City, NV. They were in a beautifully restored Cherokee 180.

It was a very nice meal with good friends and new acquaintances. Of course the conversation was centered mainly around flying. One of the other pilots currently flies a Cessna Citation for a company in Carson City.  Really nice guy who knows just how good a job he has.  Yeah, I’m envious.

After our meal we all adjourned the the ramp to look over the planes.Swift on the ramp at KTVL. The Swift always seems to draw a crowd when it is on the ramp. At most airports it is an unusual aircraft and the polish tends to draw people to “the shiny plane.”

It was a fun day with friends. What flying is all about.

I just received an email from my friend Paul – he took this on our way back to Stead. You can see how smooth the water was on Lake Tahoe.

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