Helicopter from Los Angeles to Maskachusetts, Part 3 (They Built the Wall in Texas)

Our story picks up again on an April Saturday morning in Tucson. When checked the previous night, the forecast weather beyond El Paso was a combination of ugly and iffy. Despite the weather forecast and having flown 5 hours (collective-cracked time, so closer to 6 hours of rotor-spinning time), we were at the airport a little after 7:00 am.

After weight gained via the previous night’s Sonoran hot dogs it would have been nice to steal this civilian Blackhawk with which we shared the ramp (they were dropping supplies into the forest for powerline construction):

Here’s Interstate 10 climbing over some of the hills in southern New Mexico. It is possible to do the trip at 5,500′, the highest elevation that we must fly in order to bring a helicopter from coast to coast along I-10:

We stopped for the bathroom and found some porn for pilots:

Due to a slight headwind, we couldn’t make it to El Paso on one tank. We stopped in Las Cruces for fuel and on-airport bbq:

Once we arrived in El Paso, just after noon and having flown only three hours from Tucson, we discovered that the forecast wall of bad weather in Texas was, in fact, impenetrable by prospective helicopter migrants. My copilot wanted to press on, pointing out that conditions weren’t so bad at various airports to the northeast, e.g., 1200′ ceilings were available in Carlsbad (elevation 3295′). I reminded him that we’d have to climb above 8,000′ to clear the mountains between El Paso and Carlsbad and that the 1200′ ceiling wasn’t going to follow the terrain. It hadn’t occurred to him that airports tend to be built at the lowest elevations in a region, not on hilltops or mountaintops. (He had more than 500 hours of airplane time and nearly 200 hours of helicopter time so I can’t explain this gap in knowledge.)

Million Air KELP is a favorite spot for military instructors and students. It’s also a great place to make sure that you don’t get sunburned when transferring from your pavement-melting SUV into your Greta Thunberg-approved Gulfstream:

We headed downtown:

More about El Paso in our next thrilling installment…


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Helicopter from Los Angeles to Maskachusetts, Part 2 (Davis-Monthan boneyard)

Follow-up to Helicopter from Los Angeles to Maskachusetts, Part 1

We actually did this before landing in Tucson and enjoying Sonoran hot dogs at “EGC”… an orbit of Davis–Monthan Air Force Base. The military wasn’t doing any flying at 5 pm on a Friday afternoon, so I figured that the tower controller would either tell us to stay out or invite us to come in and do whatever we wanted. Instead, the controller approved one orbit of the famous boneyard. Why not two orbits? I should have summoned the courage to ask!

Here’s the part of the base that supports actively flying aircraft:

And then your choice of aircraft for any size family:

Note the A-10 Warthogs at bottom right if there is any need for domestic violence.

Here’s your fearful narrator enjoying the scene:

(Note the T-shirt from this year’s Sun ‘n Fun)

If you believe in “Peace, the old-fashioned way”… the B-1 bomber (sad about the reflection; it would have been better to land and take the door off and then take off again and yet better if Robinson would add a sliding photo window to the piston-powered machines that are now up to $750,000):

Not sure if this one is coming in or going out:

An overview…

And another wide image…

Tune in next time to see what we did about the following:

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Helicopter from Los Angeles to Maskachusetts, Part 1

Nutrition is critical for any coast-to-coast helicopter flight. I loaded up on dim sum at Din Tai Fung in a Costa Mesa mall, then paid only $13 for a few strawberries at Hannam Chain in our inflation-free economy. The folks who run the supermarket are Korean and had neglected to boycott the Zionist entity:

I decided to skip the rainbow flag worship at the liquor store next door to the supermarket:

Our machine was waiting for us on the Robinson ramp in Torrance (KTOA), but the marine layer prevented departure prior to 11:30 am. Note the new horizontal stabilizer, not in any way resembling a Bell 206…

That gave us time to stock up on snacks at the nearby Whole Foods. The scene out front showed California at its best: outdoor maskers and a planet-saving Tesla.

In the rare moments when they de-mask, the Followers of Science detoxify their body with alkaline water in front of this Whole Foods:

We fly out of LA by following CA-91 and I-10, a route prescribed by Robinson that is the lowest path out of the mountains (the Banning Pass is at 2,200′ above sea level). I keep a cheat sheet of radio frequencies for the control towers and/or common traffic advisory frequencies (CTAF) of the 7 airports we will fly by. In the middle of the day (not rush hour) it’s up to a 4-hour trip by car, according to the Google, but we’re there after 30 minutes:

If one were tempted to complain about the R44’s 110-knot cruising speed, this sight in Carson, California (near Long Beach) is a good reminder to count one’s blessings:

As soon as we get to Banning the skies turn blue. We transition through Palm Springs and land at the Bermuda Dunes airport. After consuming all of the FBO’s Cheez-Its, it was time to continue climbing into the hills via I-10.

Blythe, California is a generally terrible airport where you need to park at the fuel pumps and where the “courtesy car” comes with precious little courtesy. We skipped it and continued across the Colorado River into Arizona.

Some more mountains before arriving in Metro Phoenix to land at the Goodyear, AZ airport:

One way to look slim:

More coffee and snacks at GYR before proceeding on toward Tucson. The Pinal, AZ airport is notable for Army helicopters and washed-up airliners:

Maybe a sharp-eyed reader can figure out what the coal-fueled facility below is. I don’t see huge powerlines coming out of it so my guess is “not electricity generation”. Also, a nice quarry:

We arrived in Tucson about 1.5 hours before sunset. If we couldn’t make it all the way to El Paso it probably made sense to shut down because southern New Mexico does not have a lot of services.

Then it was time to shop for microfiber cloths (clean the bugs off the bubble) and eat Sonoran hot dogs at El Guero Canelo (“EGC” to the locals):

(I cheat and order mine without mayonnaise)

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A pleasant afternoon and evening at the airport

Passengers love airplanes because they’re fast. Piston-powered aviation is, of course, almost always slower than driving, but time spent at the airport is seldom wasted. I went up to Stuart, Florida the other day to fly the Cirrus and have dinner with the Quiet Birdmen. Here were a few of the sights:

(Icon A5 and a Kaman helicopter as well as the usual Florida sunset.)

Flying turns out to be the slowest part of my life and the part where I’m most likely to engage strangers in casual conversations. Nobody is rushing to answer an email or text.

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Who loves aviation and Boston weather in January?

Our MIT ground school class happens January 9-11, 2024. Why not come to Boston and spend three days learning everything that the FAA wants Private pilot certificate holders to know, plus some of the engineering behind the facts?

For this year, although MIT is not Ivy League, I’m going to try to apply standard Ivy League polices. You can be expelled from the class if you misgender anyone, but there will be no problem if you call for the elimination of Israel and the killing of all Jews (unless “the speech turns into conduct” says the Penn president). Please keep in mind that my pronouns are Absolutely/Fabulous. Depending on your financial circumstances, the course may be available at a $330,920 discount from the normal $330,920 cost of attending MIT for four years. Simply send a financial disclosure statement listing all of your checking accounts, your Social Security Number, and your online banking usernames/passwords to my records department in Lagos, Nigeria.

The student who scores highest on the final exam will win a new Tesla Cybertruck with a custom wrap:

Depending on your skin color, you might be invited to a party hosted by the Mayor of Boston:

A Wu administration official, on behalf of the mayor, mistakenly sent all Boston city councilors an email Tuesday inviting them to a holiday party that was meant exclusively for “electeds of color,” prompting an apology and mixed reactions.

Denise DosSantos, the mayor’s director of City Council relations, told the body’s “honorable members” that, “on behalf of Mayor Michelle Wu,” she was cordially inviting each of them “and a guest to the Electeds of Color Holiday Party on Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Parkman House, 33 Beacon St.”

Approximately 15 minutes later, however, DosSantos sent out a follow-up email to city councilors, apologizing for the prior email, which was apparently only meant for those who were invited. The body includes seven white councilors and six of color.

“I wanted to apologize for my previous email regarding a Holiday Party for tomorrow,” DosSantos, a Cape Verdean Black woman, wrote. “I did send that to everyone by accident, and I apologize if my email may have offended or came across as so. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.”

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Proper burial for an aviator: Portal of the Folded Wings in Burbank

After a business trip to Pasadena, I caught a flight to Las Vegas (for 9 minutes of Formula 1) out of Burbank. On the way, I stopped at the Portal of the Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation. This 1924 structure is a fitting final destination for those who have tackled the challenges of flying. Here are some photos:

There is a Space Shuttle memorial in the front:

It’s California, so help yourself to whatever you want at CVS, Apple, or the Nike store, but don’t steal any flowers. That’s an actual “crime.”

Who are some of the people memorialized here?

John Moisant, who made it across the English Channel in a Blériot XI and died four months later on the site of the big New Orleans Airport shortly afterwards, and sister Matilde:

If you don’t mind your ashes being interred in a lockdown state, it looks as though there are still spaces available because folks who died recently are under the floor (I think):

I wonder if EAA could build something like this in Oshkosh. There is actually a cemetery right next to the airport:

Pricing at this cemetery is quite reasonable: $1,100 per plot.

If it’s just ashes, though, and a bronze plaque, maybe there could be a structure like this Portal almost anywhere within the annual EAA AirVenture event grounds or, perhaps, near the EAA Museum.

For aviators who did not appreciate lockdowns, perhaps there could be something like the Portal in the Florida Free State? Orlando has a rich aviation history, is 100′ above sea level in case Professor Dr. Greta #FreePalestine Thunberg, M.D., Ph.D. proves to be correct about future ocean height, and is a common destination for travelers who might wish to pay their respects to a departed aviator.

Who’s an expert on cemetery startups? If there are no full caskets/bodies, is it tough to get zoning approval? It could even be a monument with no ashes at all. Since the deceased were aviators, their ashes could be scattered in the air. Maybe airport management would then be happy to have it on airport grounds. Pay your respects, return your rental car, catch your flight out of MCO.

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Banner-towing of a Palestinian flag over Harvard for International Civil Aviation Day

Somewhat bizarrely, December 7, famous for Japanese naval aviation achievements in Hawaii, is also International Civil Aviation Day.

How was this day observed in Maskachusetts? “Plane flying banner with the Palestinian flag and the words ‘Harvard Hates Jews’ circles the Cambridge campus” (Daily Mail):

A plane with the banner ‘Harvard Hates Jews’ coupled with a Palestinian flag has been spotted circling Harvard University’s campus ahead of the first night of Chanukah.

Anonymous Jewish students were reportedly behind the stunt on Thursday – sending a message in response to Harvard President Claudine Gay’s contentious testimony in Congress.

The aerial campaign that made its rounds around Cambridge was initiated by a group called ‘Harvard with Hamas,’ as reported by the Boston Herald.

The message was meant to ‘respond to the runaway antisemitism on the campus and the shocking support for Hamas terrorism and rape obscenely vocalized by Harvard faculty and students following the Oct. 7th massacre in Israel,’ according to the group.

Gay and the presidents of UPenn and MIT were eviscerated for telling Congress on Tuesday that calls for the genocide of Jews do not violate their codes of conduct, causing ferocious backlash and calls for her to resign.

A Cessna 172?

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Modelo vs. Bud Light and the Reno Air Races

Modelo is America’s #1 selling beer (NBC). Meanwhile, at the other end of the rainbow, “Bud Light sales still down 30% six months after Dylan Mulvaney disaster, drinkers ‘lost forever’: expert” (NY Post).

What is Modelo sponsoring? Check these photos from Oshkosh 2023 of the Lockheed T-33 that they sponsor in airshows:

Note that this can be considered a “trans sponsorship” because the aircraft was assigned “fighter” at birth in 1944, but switched to identifying as “trainer” in 1948. In other words, a trans sponsorship need not hurt a beer brand so long as aerobatics and Jet A are involved.

Tranheuser-Busch was a significant sponsor of airshow performers decades ago. They famously had a BD-5J, just like James Bond (before James Bond spent most of his time in gay bars). Back issues of aviation magazines also show more conventional piston aerobatic planes whose sole sponsor was Bud Light.

Could Bud Light be revived with sponsorship? Let’s consider the example of Saudi Arabia, whose laws and values are not necessarily shared by everyone worldwide. Nonetheless, everyone cheers the soccer and golf teams and events that they sponsor.

If Bud Light wants to reclaim market share, should Tranheuser-Busch bring its checkbook to airshows? Due to residential encroachment driven by population growth (one of the many benefits of expanding our population to 450+ million via low-skill immigration?), the Reno Air Races (which start today) need a new home, which was challenging to find. Consider a typical American who welcomed lockdowns, school closures, forced masking of 2-year-olds, and coerced vaccination. He/she/ze/they meekly cowered in place for a year or two and now you expect him/her/zir/them to accept the risk of a 75-year-old P-51 flying nearby at 550 mph? Air racing requires infrastructure in the middle of nowhere and, in direct contradiction, proximity to a major population center with commercial airline service.

For 2024 at least, the plan is to race just outside of Las Vegas in Pahrump. This will cost a lot of money to set up and Tranheuser-Busch could supply it in exchange for the races being renamed the “Bud Light Not Trans At All Air Races”. Since the CEO won’t abandon his/her/zir/their passion for promoting Rainbow Flagism, one stipulation could be that all competitors be painted in the following scheme:

Rainbow yet not Rainbow?

Speaking of the T-33, here are a couple of photos from the EAA Museum commemorating a nun-piloted flight from Wisconsin to New Jersey:


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Jimmy Buffett: Airman

A multiengine seaplane pilot has gone west. Let’s have a look at James William Buffett’s pilot certificate, from the FAA Airmen Registry:

Jimmy Buffett was a resident of Palm Beach County, as far as the FAA was concerned. He was typed in the Grumman Albatross (C/G-111), three Dassault Falcon bizjets, and the original Cessna Citation bizjet (bird strikes from the rear). The “date of issue” being in 2019 could have been due to a change of address, a change of gender ID, or an added rating.

Buffett wanted to see a Democrat-run Florida and Democrat-run United States. In “Jimmy Buffett takes musical shots at Trump during concert” (2018), for example, Buffett was supporting Andrew Gillum in the governor’s race against Ron DeSantis. He got his wish in 2020 for the country, at least.

Buffett became a billionaire via real estate development, mostly in Florida, and most recently with 55+ communities, e.g., in Daytona (see this New Yorker story). At the time of his death, he was working on a $400 million project just to our southeast in Riviera Beach. I hope that the project is completed. Even if I’m more of a classical and jazz listener, I’m sure that it will be an improvement over everything else that has been going on in Riviera Beach.

Maybe we need to honor Buffett’s memory by getting multiengine seaplane ratings in a Grumman Widgeon in Alabama. Who wants to go this fall, as soon as the weather cools off a little?

Or we could go to Key West, Florida. Although Buffett seems to have spent more time in Palm Beach, he is associated with Key West and built a hotel there. The good news is that Hotels.com is ready to help with the challenge of finding a gay-friendly place to stay in Key West. Note the “LGBTQ welcoming” checkbox at upper left in this listing of places available for Nov 3-5:

Very loosely related… the pilot who managed a successful off-airport landing in a Boeing 737 retired a few days ago.

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