Adventure Tour: California
The Golden State is known for many things – Hollywood, the Golden Gate Bridge, plentiful wineries and a beautiful coastline. The weather is typically magnificent, the views are breathtaking, plus there isn’t a shortage of fantastic destinations to enjoy. Next time you’re flying through California, be sure to plug one of these “Direct To” destinations into your Garmin GPS.
Catalina Island (KAVX)
Located roughly 30 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, you’ll find the tiny gem that is Catalina Island. This popular southern California tourist spot offers pilots a unique opportunity for a brief over-water operation with a reasonably manageable distance to-from land. Most of us never get a chance to say we’ve landed on an island (especially from here in Kansas), or at a place known as the ‘Airport in the Sky.’ Catalina is a great for a weekend getaway or simply to grab a $100 hamburger at the DC-3 Gifts & Grill.
There are few places in the world that have a world-class collection of historic aircraft and warbirds. There are even fewer places where most of those aircraft are airworthy. The Planes of Fame Museum and Yanks Air Museum, located at the Chino airport, contains some of the world’s rarest wartime aviation artifacts. And what’s better than seeing a legendary warbird in a museum? Seeing one in the sky – at Chino, you probably will.
Harris Ranch (3O8)
Known for their legendary beef products, the Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant is a staple for food connoisseurs everywhere. With a great reputation for their cuisine and a rich tradition rooted in Central California (Coalinga), the folks at Harris Ranch have a penchant for a good steak. And fortunately for aviators, a 2800-foot runway lies conveniently adjacent to the restaurant, making it an easy pilot pit stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, Columbia is a premiere fly-in campground for the adventure pilot in all of us. You will get a good sense of backcountry life at this destination that’s surrounded by hills and mountains, where you won’t have to “rough-it” too much since the airport features creature comforts including flush toilets and hot showers. The historic gold rush town is also just a short walk from the airport.
Furnace Creek Airport (L06)
Elevation is a key concern for every pilot. We double-check our altimeter before we takeoff, we make sure the density altitude is not an issue and we are continuously adjusting the barometric pressure as we journey cross-country. But everything we’re used to is above sea level – so how often would you be able to say you’ve landed below sea level? At the Furnace Creek Airport in Death Valley, you can. The airport elevation is -210 feet MSL, the lowest elevation airport in North America.
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