26 Dezember 2010

Los Angeles from the sky

When I had to shift my december schedule around a little, I was sad that I had to give away the flight to Bogota. I got Los Angeles instead - and was surprised to see Bram as our co-pilot on the crew list. A true enthusiast when it comes to flying and planes. Also our captain Juergen has more than just a 747 type rating. He used to fly hang gliders, and now he supports his son in glider competitions.
Seconds after I knew I was going to fly with Bram, he already asked if I was interested in a flight around L.A. in a cessna he was going to rent at Torrance airport. Juergen and another colleague went as well, and we had a lot of fun cruising through "the shortcut" LAX to Santa Monica, then into the Hollywood hills, climbing out and checking out San Bernadino take off. Nobody was there, the wind was pretty strong and we saw amazing lenticular clouds later on.
Bram landed the plane up in Big Bear. People were skiing already, even though it was 20 C at the beach down below in L.A.! We had some lunch, talked to the cool navy guys who flew the shark plane, and then went back. In the lee with that kind of strong wind (whitecaps on the lake) I expected a kind of rough take off, but Bram pulled it off very smoothly. Then I was in charge and sure enough, I steered our plane over to Lake Elsinore to see if anybody was out there. Still nobody in the air without a motor. Flying back along the coastline was fun, and my passengers didnt get too sick I hope ;)
Later we talked to the guy who owns the rental business, Bram knows him quite well, and I asked about one of the posters on the wall which included Michael Goulian - he had co-sponsored Michael Goulian on air shows, I had met Mike at the Red Bull Air Race, he was the young and upcoming American pilot who always reminded me of "Ross" from the series "Friends". Sometimes this flying world is small!
I had also tried to contact Felix Baumgartner, as he often is in L.A. to fly and prepare for his Stratosphere record jump. He was not in the US this time, but finishing his rating on the Bell 47... good reason, still it would have been great to meet again. I hope next time at Hangar 7 probably.
Anyway, it was a pleasant flight and a great day with friends, never boring, actually not really enough time, so many things to talk about. Thanks Bram and Juergen, I hope we will have another work trip again soon!

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