By STAN Sundance Logo KASPRZYK

FlightLog Archive

Aircraft Flown

Palm Springs Shuttle - Feb 2023

From my friend, Doug in early February: "Sundance - I'm planning on spending three months in Palm Springs, and I need your help ferrying my RV-7 there from Auburn!" Twist my arm! I’ve flown Doug’s RV-7 numerous times to give him flight reviews and aerobatic training, plus formation flying together for great photos, including a Van’s calendar winning entry.

Weather was the critical factor for scheduling the ferry flight, since February is notorious for icing, winds and cold IFR conditions along the Cascades as we planned any southbound winter journey. The winter of 2022-2023 had been fairly cold, windy and wild, giving us a very good snowpack in the Cascades by late January. As mid-February approached, Doug and I noticed a small one-day window of decent weather being forecast for Wednesday, 15 February. Doug hopped on a late Alaska flight from Palm Springs to Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, and we decided to meet at 5:30 (yes, that’s AM) to go for it.

The clear sliver of the moon and bright stars were a very positive omen as we blasted out of Auburn, WA (S50) into clear 28° skies at 6:06 in the morning, climbing quickly on our IFR flight plan to 17,000 feet. Seattle Center was very accommodating in the early hours, first clearing us direct to Battle Ground (BTG), then giving us direct to Red Bluff, CA (RBL). I hand flew the climb out of Auburn, then handed things over to the Garmin autopilot as we donned our oxygen cannulas and enjoyed the glorious sunrise over the Cascades.

Given our actual tailwinds of 35 knots, with forecasts to increase as we cruised further into California, we anticipated the possibility of a non-stop flight on one tank of gas, all the way from Auburn to Palm Springs. The skies remained crystal clear, allowing me to pick up Mt Shasta while 170 NM away! As we passed nearly directly over a very snowy Mt Shasta, still at 17,000, burning a mere 5.6 gals/hour, we were indicating a 200 knot ground speed. You’ve got to love the RV-7!

The only fly in the ointment was our oxygen usage. We unfortunately were using a ‘5’ setting for too long on our oxygen meter, when a ‘.5’ would have been enough, so we would not have enough oxygen to remain at 17K with the great tailwind. In our pre-flight planning, I noted that McClellan Airfield (KMCC) near Sacramento had surprisingly cheap fuel at $5.03/gal, vs $7-8.00/gal in the surrounding area. We decided on one quick fuel stop at KMCC, enjoying the 10,599 foot main runway at the former USAF base. I again hand flew the departure south from McClellan to 11,500 feet, then Doug engaged the Garmin autopilot as we cruised by Bakersfield, Lake Hughes, then descended over Cajon Pass into still clear skies. High winds blowing through Banning Pass the day before had caused airliners arriving in Palm Springs to divert into nearby Ontario. Today the winds were much reduced, but still gave us one good ‘canopy knocker’ just before Banning. ATC kept us at 5500’ until over Palm Springs (PSP), then allowed a smooth entry to left downwind for runway 28 at Bermuda Dunes, giving us 6.1 hours and completely clear skies the entire journey!

The weather in the Puget Sound turned cloudy with icing the next morning, so our choice of flying days was perfect! Thanks for the fun ferry flight, Doug, and enjoy flying your RV-7 for a few months in the desert Southwest!