However, knowing that in the nearly three hours it would take for my flight it would likely improve, and the forecast called With a forecast of improving weather by my planned arrival time, I launched into clear blue skies over the desert. After a quick radio call to flight service to open my flight plan and a check-in with Phoenix departure for radar service (flight following), I was well on my way, still hoping for favorable weather on the other end. It’s trips like this where my instrument rating would provide a perfect cushion to this flight. Only problem is I have been out of currency for a few years and haven’t had the time or need (until now) to perform an instrument proficiency check (IPC).
Arrival: Just under 3 hours later I arrived at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field, which was now in the clear and reporting a visibility of 5 miles with haze. One thing I had been cautioned about flying in here in a “small” aircraft that I found to be true: Be prepared to mix it up with the airliners! It really wasn’t a problem. Just be on your game, listen closely to controller instructions and be willing to do what it takes to work your way in the mix. I was told to tuck in behind an MD-80, caution wake turbulence, keep your speed up, expedite turn off the runway, etc. In other words, it can be a busy time at a busy place.
12:15 PM: Landmark Aviation gave me a convenient place to park AND a free 5 -minute shuttle ride down to a very congested Shelter Island. OK, I did top off the fuel tanks but they waived the ramp fee ($25) and even through I was “only” flying a Skyhawk , they still treated me like I just arrived in a Citation X. I soon arrived on Scott Street to a crowd of thousands milling about, mulling over deals on tackle, checking out the boats and learning a few things from the experts.
A Family Affair: One of the highlights of the event, in my opinion, were the kids fishing areas set up at all three landings. Shrieks and shouts of excitement could be heard across the docks as the younger set had a chance to catch some feisty and willing mackerel. Sure, it’s not a 100# yellowfin tuna, in fact these fish could be used as BAIT for a 100# yellowfin, but for many it was their first fish ever. It’s good to see events like this that take positive steps to encourage the next generation of anglers.
Boat Rides: For those who had never ridden aboard one of the many boats that make up the largest sportfishing fleet in the world, boat rides were offered for just $2. A nominal fee to take a quick tour of San Diego bay and get a sense of what great fishing platforms these vessels provide. This was also provided a great opportunity for anglers to show those non-fishing members of their families just how clean, modern and safe the fleet really is.
Long Rangers: Day at the Docks also adds to the excitement of an upcoming long range or multi-day trip by allowing anglers to meet with boat skippers and crews well in advance of the trip. In some cases, as in mine, it’s checking out a boat and meeting the crew for the first time AFTER I’ve already booked the trip! I have always heard great things about the Shogun (actually, there aren’t too many boats in the fleet I have heard bad things about) and it really is a beautiful boat. I had an opportunity to meet with skipper Bruce Smith and we’re both excited about the possibilities of the upcoming Big Fish Happen 5-day trip in June.
I also had a chance to visit with the crews of the American Angler and Grande. Looks like the Angler is ready to rock-and-roll for the season ahead. Meanwhile, James McDaniels, owner/operator of the Grande, has done a great job in building his reputation within the fleet and I hope to get back out on that 85’ Ditmar once again.
Back to the Airport, Back to Phoenix: My time in San Diego was soon coming to an end. A quick call to Landmark Aviation had a shuttle back to pick me up and deliver me at the airport. After my pre-flight preparations I received my departure clearance and headed to the runway. Leaving San Diego Lindbergh Field seemed to be a little less complicated than arriving.
Basically it’s an exercise in “get out of the way of the airliners as quickly as you can.” Fortunately, the marine layer (a deck of low clouds that typically hangs out just off the coast) stayed offshore and my VFR departure went off without a hitch
As you can see by the photo below, there is a LOT of desert between San Diego and Phoenix...