This is my first time writing a trip report so bear with me!
On June 2nd two classmates and I made the trip down to John Wayne Airport (KSNA) all the way from Calgary-Springbank Airport (CYBW) in a Cessna 172 (S model). As part of the curriculum in our Aviation Program, we have to do a US border crossing and to meet the requirements to get a Commercial Pilot's License, it is necessary to do a cross country flight to a destination that is a 300nm or more radius from the departure airport. This trip was meant to accomplish all of that for everybody on board. Weeks of planning went into this successful trip. It was a huge learning experience and an absolute blast! I'll split this report into two parts. Part 1 will cover the trip to LA and Part 2 will cover the flight back.Day 1
Springbank (CYBW) - Spokane (KGEG) - Redmond (KRDM) - Klamath Falls (KLMT) - San Carlos (KSQL)
Arrival (KSQL): 1840L
Air time: 10.7 hours
Flight time: 12.0 hours
Alt: 8500 ft
The first flight of the day was to Spokane International to clear US customs. This was the flight that caused the most nervousness. Because of our work schedules, we could only make the trip work if we left on the weekend. This was an issue since customs in Spokane is only open Monday to Friday. The 24 hour ones were all well away from the great circle route so they were a non-starter for poor college students! We organized an off hour appointment time with customs in Spokane. They were very clear over the phone that if we were late we'd be SOL so we gave ourselves a lot of buffer time and hoped for the best. We ended up making it 20 minutes early so it all worked out. The friendly CBP officer showed up not a minute early nor late. After about 20 minutes we were all cleared to enter the US. We started up the plane again and made a quick taxi to the Signature FBO to grab some fuel before continuing south to Redmond, OR. For the first three legs, the plan was for me to sit in the back and then I was pilot in command for the last leg into San Francisco. I apologize in advance for some of the blurry photos. The back seat was not super conducive to clear pictures with all of the bumps.
Leaving YBW bright and early at 0530..
Departing off of Runway 17 to the south before turning west towards Canmore/Banff
Following the Trans-Canada highway into the Rockies at 8500 ft.
South of the Kooteney Crossing about to turn right to follow the Banff-Windermere Highway through this valley to enter the Columbia Valley over Radium Hotsprings.
The Columbia Valley looking to the NW
To the south...
Short video I took of the valley. It was beautiful..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4fJPOL5Zbw
Cranbrook Airport (CYXC)
The US-Canada border. We had to do a bit of circling before crossing as we had a bit of trouble getting in contact with US ATC. About 10 mins later, we were cleared to cross.
Some views over Washington state
My classmate following the ILS RWY21 perfectly into KGEG
Some cool traffic at the international including a Mad-dog
Holding short for an Embraer before departing off of 21 for Redmond. This flight was easily the most boring of all the flights. It was nothing but endless farmer fields and the odd crop circles until we made our way further west. It felt like flying over Alberta. We did get decently close to Mount Hood which was neat.
Got to park behind a cool Dassault Falcon at the FBO in Redmond. We felt like Royalty at this place. Free coffee and snacks
Took a video of the taxi into the FBO. Felt so out of place. (Apologies for the vertical filming)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpWITXg-F88
The next stop was to Klamath Falls. We could've made it direct to San Francisco from Redmond, but to count this flight as the 300nm x-country, my classmate had to make an additional stop since it's required to make 3 full stop landings and shutdown each time. ATC told us to go to the run-up bay and we just switched seats there and got the plane started up and took off to San Carlos airport (KSQL). I didn't get many pictures on the flight to KLMT because I took a nap. I was the one flying next and after 9 hours of flying, I figured it would be a good idea to be well rested.
Descending over Klamath Falls. It looked like they tried to be Hollywood with the big sign, but they had budget cuts or something and only got the K up on the hill.
On approach to runway 14 at KLMT
A handful of F-15's on the ramp
The next flight to KSQL was quite interesting. The scenery was really cool and the air traffic in the Bay area was not something that any of us were used to. It was quite overwhelming. The approach into San Carlos was crazy too. There's 3 major airports and a number of GA airports all around the bay and all the approach paths converged over the area that we had to fly to get to our destination. At one point we had to fly at like 1200' over the water underneath the approach path of 28L/R at KSFO. I highly doubt we were within gliding distance of the shore at times there.
Mt. Shasta (14179')
Cool Norcal terrain.. Around this time, Norcal Approach asked us if we had this Lufthansa 747 at our 12 o'clock in sight. It was sure hard to miss! I wish I got a photo of it, but I'm sure it wouldn't have turned out great with my iPhone. I'm pretty sure it had the new livery too.
The Sonoma Raceway
Looking south towards downtown SF
Over Oakland. Just noticed that there was an airliner in the distance. Shows how close we were to the larger traffic!
All two of my landings in San Carlos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6iBGGltFHU
Shutdown checklist complete. In total we logged 12 hours of flying that day. We were so beat. Thankfully we could walk to the hotel. We freshened up and tried to do a little exploring of San Francisco before heading to sleep. We caught an uber and did the mandatory walk on the Golden Gate bridge and then we grabbed some dinner. That's all we really had the time and energy to do. We wanted to do an Alcatraz tour, but the wait list was 5 months!!
Saw a Qantas 747 while driving to the Golden Gate. First time for me! Also saw my career goal Cathay Pacific A350 through the fence. The view was too obstructed to take any good pictures though as you can see..
We caught a beautiful sunset while at the bridge. It was incredibly windy and cold though! Not what I was expecting in California.
Some blurry pics of downtown SF and Alcatraz from the bridge
For dinner we went to this Mac and Cheese Restaurant that my classmate was raving about called Mac'd. It was really good, but man did we instantly regret it after
After dinner we caught the uber back to the Fairfield Inn & Suites by San Carlos airport (was an excellent stay by the way). Everyone else fell asleep, but I was really enjoying driving through the streets of San Francisco at night. It's a beautiful city. I really wish we could've stayed longer. I'll have to come back another time. We had a good sleep and then as soon as we all woke up and got freshened up, I called to file our flight plan and we checked out of the hotel. We walked over to our plane to get it ready for the flight and paid the airport fees and then we blasted off to John Wayne airport (KSNA). This was the only flight for the day and it was my leg (as in I was PIC). Since I started flying, it was on my bucket list to fly between SF and LA in a small plane so it was amazing to finally do so. Despite the busy airspace, it was fairly easy to navigate, especially with flight following. The procedures were simple to understand and it was a pretty seamless flight. In total, the flight time was 3.4 hours.Day 2
San Carlos (KSQL) - Orange County - John Wayne Airport (KSNA)
Air time: 3.1 hours
Flight time: 3.4 hours
Alt: 9500 ft
We took off on the same runway we landed on, runway 21. We were instructed to do the standard woodside departure which means after turning downwind, we were to continue straight until over Woodside road, then follow that road until out of the busy airspace before proceeding on course. It was a fairly uneventful flight until LA airspace where we were given a bunch of vectors and then we were cleared to cross through class B airspace over KLAX to get to KSNA. We also basically got to do a parallel approach with a Delta 757 at SNA too (they were well behind us until short final when they caught up).
Leaving San Carlos
The Pacific Ocean
A little clip of our climb out of San Carlos heading SW bound. Again, apologies for the vertical filming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lkoea6__X_Y
Nothing but water
Over Santa Cruz
Some enroute scenery
The San Gabriel Mountains north of LA
Santa Monica Airport (KSMO). I wish we could've landed there, but it was crazy expensive...
The highlight of the flight... flying over KLAX!
The Queen Mary
Looking behind us to the west
From the Queen Mary, we were told to fly direct to Huntington Beach then over the ATC tower at KSNA to join the left downwind for runway 20L. Our plane really looked out of place on the ramp in KSNA! We were treated like kings at ACI Jet. For any GA pilots out there. I'd definitely recommend that FBO. The entire wall of snacks and drinks was enough for me lol.
I hope you guys enjoyed this trip report! I'm definitely open to any constructive criticism. I'll upload Part 2 in the next couple of days. This is a lot more work than I thought it would be!
I'll finish off this report with some average touristy pictures..
First thing's first, we had to go to the In 'N' Out at LAX to watch planes...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtIpmoDt0x0
After we got that out of the way, we went to go visit all the cliche spots...