First Catalina Flight

You gotta love people who can just take the day off whenever they want to.

It’s never quite that simple, of course. Those who have the authority to do so are usually self-employed, and as such put in more hours at their job than anyone who’s working for The Man. Sounds odd, but it’s totally true–after all, are you willing to work harder for yourself or for some faceless corporation whose C.E.O. makes about fifty times more than you do?

Anyway, I needed a break today. Yesterday was one of those rousing up-at-five-and-go-go-go-until-midnight affairs. Today was looking like it might turn into the same thing. Thank you, but no. I’m alive and prefer to stay that way. So in the interest of getting the hell out of Dodge for a while, I thought I’d do a little flying. Catalina Island stuck in my head as a possible destination. My friend Paul (who moonlights as a movie star under the name Nicholas Cage; you may have heard of him) decided he could take the afternoon off too, so we hopped in his car and headed out to Corona Airport.

I was a little embarrassed by my inability to get the plane started on the first try. I thought I overprimed the engine, but it turns out I actually underprimed it. The primer wasn’t sucking any fuel into the first cylinder for the first few strokes. Live and learn. But the flight was great, visibility excellent and no clouds in the sky at all. And my landings were smooth as silk. I don’t know what it is about the Cherokee, but I can’t make a bad landing in that plane even if I try.

Paul had a great time, which made it all the more fun. I love introducing people to the wonder of aviation; somehow it awakens the kid in all of us. He took all sorts of pictures, and I gave him the chance to fly the plane for a bit. This was my first time flying to Catalina Island, so it was a unique experience for me as well. The airport is on a cliff which drops 1,500 feet into the ocean, so you’re treated to some of the most spectacular views imaginable as you come in for landing. It reminded me of the opening credit sequence from the original Fantasy Island television series. Catalina was quiet, peaceful, and a welcome respite from the metropolitan hell known as Southern California (you wouldn’t believe how nasty the smog on the mainland looks from out there!). Frankly, I can’t wait to go back.

The day was golden, even beyond the flying. Until recently, getting to Corona Airport from my place meant a drive on the 5, the 55, and the 91 freeways. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, those are the three most congested and frustratingly slow freeways in Southern California. I use the past tense because last month a new toll road opened which goes from Irvine directly to Corona. It’s like having a new, wide, flat, empty Autobahn which delivers you directly to your destination. So while all those suckers were baking in rush hour traffic, we whizzed back from the airport at 90 m.p.h. in Paul’s new Accord coupe and made it to rehearsal right on time, laughing all the way.

It’s the only way to fly.

  2 comments for “First Catalina Flight

  1. Graeme
    February 1, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I still remember the line from this post “Unemployment DOES have its benefits” (free ride to AVX!) Today is February 1, 2014, and today is my first day of unemployment. Call me stupid, but I am putting my entire severance package (All in!) on my CFI training (someone talk me out of this!!!)

    Did you really go to AVX with Nicholas Cage? I love how you said “your Landings were smooth as silk” haha. You are SOO modest Sir Ron.

    • February 2, 2014 at 2:15 am

      Naw, it wasn’t Nick Cage — but my buddy Paul does look an awful lot like him.

      I wouldn’t call you stupid for putting your severance money into the CFI certificate. You may not be as rich in dollar terms, but you’ll be far richer in personal satisfaction and happiness… and as they say, that’s something money can’t buy!

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