Our Flight to Napa

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Here's our first view of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were already getting traffic advisories from approach control but fortunately it wasn't too busy.

The Golden Gate Bridge. We are ready to cross over. It's highest point is 757 feet, so we cruised over at a comfortable 1500. Just south at Half Moon Bay we spotted 4 whales.

On the north site, this is the road into Sausalito.

On the south site, the traffic coming from San Franciso.

The Story


Sunday, March 25 after studying weather reports for the last day and a half, and planning this flight for about a week, we set off on our way north along the coast to San Francisco. Fortunately the major airport for the city is located to the southeast, in the San Francisco bay, and this allows general aviation traffic to explore one of the most remarkable harbour entrances in the world.

Our flight took us along the Central Californian coast, past the town of Half Moon Bay and over the Golden Gate Bridge into the San Francisco bay. Pushing a stiff breeze, we averaged little more than 80kts on the way up. At times it seemed the cars cruising along highway 1 were going faster than us. Our entire flight was conducted around 1500 feet and below, with the beaches affording reasonable emergency landing fields along the way.

Enroute we were able to spy a variety of wildlife and recreational activities including hundreds of elephant seals at Ano Nuevo state park, 5 whales, a dolphin and a bunch of crazy people hang-gliding and para-surfing. After crossing the Golden Gate bridge, we circumnavigated the old prison island of Alcatraz, then made our way north through the bay to the controlled airfield of Napa. At the airfield we had a great lunch at Jonesy's Famous Steak House. The food and service was excellent.

Our flight back was similarly rewarding, this time making a groundspeed of 110kts, significantly faster. We even practiced a simulated engine-out failure and approach to one of the beaches, aborting the approach around 500 feet and resuming our cruising altitude of 1500.

All in all this was a fantastic day out, and the views we will long remember.