I live in the central valley of California, and am employed by SkyWest Airlines. There's an airport and city not too far away by the name of Merced, and Scenic Airlines operates a triangle operation out of Merced with service to North Las Vegas airport. The routes are as shown below:
The schedules for these flights work out perfect for a day trip to Visalia, as I have some family there and rather than an over 2 hr. drive, I may as well just have driven to Merced and take the short 20 min. flight to Visalia...aside from this, it's Scenic Airlines, and they're just shy of closing all their regional contracts out. I needed to fly them before it was all said and done!
On to the trip...
SCE Flight #72
Date: November 9th, 2006
I called up the Merced station and informed them that I was wishing to list as a SkyWest employee for the flight to Visalia. They informed me that it shouldn't be a problem loads wise, but from VIS-LVS would be plenty full...okay for me! I listed and made my way to Merced...
Upon arriving at the terminal I looked out in the distance and saw the aircraft touchdown and begin it's taxi up to the terminal. Much to my surprise, the aircraft was a 1900C and not a D (which I was expecting). Scenic had leased 2-3 1900D's from Great Lakes over the last couple of years for their regional service.
I went inside and approached the ticket counter to find a nice gal asking what she can do to help me. I explained to her that I am an OO employee travelling to VIS. With nothing more said, and my ID shown, she handed me over my boarding pass...or what was an attempt at one...haha!
Pics of boarding pass:
Boarding began about 15 min. later, and it was interesting at that. No boarding passes are to be handed over, but just seen. They highlight your name off of a printed passenger name list, and there is no security at all for these regional flights, as they fly to non-connecting cities. As I approached the aircraft I talked a few with the pilot, and asked him about the C series 1900. He informed me that this particular aircraft was the ONLY Beech left for Scenic, and all the others had been returned to Great Lakes....explains why I was surprised to have a C rather than the scheduled D! In anycase, I was okay with it, as I don't know if I'll ever get an opportunity to fly a C again!
As I stepped into the plane, I could tell already this was gonna be a feat for the masses. I'd have to battle a very small aisle with my massive camera backpack, while also trying to bend over just to "walk" down the cabin...I would have been better off doing an army crawl! Just to let you all know, I fly the EMB-120 with SkyWest 4 out of the 7 days of the week, and I'm saying this 1900C is SMALL!
Once settled in I looked around and made a few observations. Although it's a scrunch to actually get seated, once you ARE seated, it's a comfortable and cozy aircraft. The seats recline (something our EMB-120's don't even do), and the leg room is quite ample. The air vents are on the side of the aircraft rather than the upper ceiling like traditional airliners, and there is no flight attendant nor cockpit door to boot. With that said, guess who gets to make the safety announcements? Yep, you guessed it...the scrunched down 6 foot tall First Officer!
Pic of FO during safety announcement:
After the safety announcement we were ready to go, the door was closed, and the engines started up. Soon after we were taxiing out and on our way to Visalia, CA!
A few pics along the way:
After a short flight and high altitude, we come back down to earth in Visalia.
Off to Vegas from Visalia:
I'd be taking the night flight back, but it's not worth reporting, as it's just the same as this trip pretty much...only dark outside!
Overall, I'd say Scenic made a decent attempt over the years to provide reliable regional service. Even for what I saw, it's better than what I COULD do on my own. If I had to, I would definitely choose Scenic again. The aircraft are no more louder than the 120's I fly in, and they are quick as well.
Whatever happens with Scenic in the future, I hope they do well, and to Mesa/US Air Express, Good Luck in Visalia and Merced in the coming weeks!
Hope you enjoyed the short report!