Harris Ranch

Perhaps you are familiar with the pilot's concept of a $100 hamburger? The price refers to the ridiculous expense of boring holes in the sky to get to a relatively distant place in order to eat a hamburger. In short, it's just a weak excuse to go flying, but it sure is fun! I've certainly eaten my share of $100 hamburgers. Originally, I did it because friends had gotten pilot's licenses and wanted me to go along. I'm happy to say that I've now flown my first independent (well almost, my instructor was in the right seat) $100 hamburger run, and what a run it was.

Follow along with our little photo-essay:

You want me to fly? Really?!??

Hey, this ain't so hard! But why is that headphone off the ear?

Oops! We're committed now!

Watsonville is looking smaller and smaller as we climb out...

We're going from Watsonville, the left red circle, to San Luis reservoir on our first leg. Navigation will be via landmarks.

This run is pretty familiar from earlier training flights. We fly at 5500 feet. Why fly the dogleg course instead of going direct? To avoid the hills in case we have a problem. You'll see that in a later flight I flew direct. It looked to me like there were quite a few places to put down even in the hills, but if I fly this as a solo cross-country I'll probably do the dogleg again. You can see from the chart fragment below that a direct route really maximizes exposure to those hills, however.

On reaching the reservoir, we turn Southwest for the rest of the trip. Basically, we just follow Hwy 5 until we get to the Harris Ranch landing strip. This is probably the longest point-to-point flight I have flown in the Cessna. When I solo, I'll need to do something like this for my cross-country flight.

Here's what Harris Ranch looks like. Sadly, we were so glad to be on the ground, and so hungry, nobody took pix of the landing strip or the tie down area. That landing strip looked so small when I was coming up on it. Since it had been about 6 weeks since I had flown, my instructor was generous enough to provide the occasional nudge to the controls to make sure we landed intact.

The restaraunt dining room has kind of a homey look, no?

We had a couple burgers and a try tip sandwich. We really wanted to order the steaks, but decided this was over the top for lunch. Harris is a very nice destination for the $100 hamburger. Getting there by car you have to drive 1/3 of the way to L.A. from the SF area. By plane, it's a 45 minute trip on a beautiful sunny day. This is what General Aviation is all about--it's why we pay the ridiculous prices and go through all the hard work to get licensed. You couldn't ask for a nicer way to spend a few hours.

Time to head for home. I guess the landing wasn't too scary--the CFI let me back in the left seat!

Ah., but we were happy to see the Watsonville airport again. That's runway 20, and we're on the downwind. Time to get my head around landing this beast again!

Terra Firma! Be it ever so humble, there's no place like ground!

Harris Ranch II, Always Remember: Fly the Plane First!



All material 2001-2006, Robert W. Warfield.