"Gold Rush Time" ATFN #106
Around the Field # 106. A charming airport from the Sierra Foothills... Remembering a gaggle of Cessna 150s... and more.
Places to Fly
Columbia, California was always a popular day trip destination for SF Bay Area pilots when I lived out there. It’s been awhile, but I hear from my California friends that it’s still very popular.
Columbia (O22) is about 20 miles up into the Sierra foothills from the edge of the California central valley, roughly to the East of the SF Bay Area.
It has one paved runway, and a second turf strip. Back when I used to land there the paved runway was low at the ends, and high in the middle. Making it basically impossible to see the far end when taxiing into position for takeoff.
The scenery while flying in the Columbia area is pretty spectacular. In many parts of the country the hills immediately surrounding it would qualify as mind-blowing. And the Sierra Nevada mountains are looming to the east.
Columbia is in the middle of what was, 150 years ago, the location of the California Gold Rush. Although the prospectors are long gone, the area proudly trumpets that history with all sorts of museums and showcases.
The town of Columbia, California is an easy walk from the airport. We’d often fly into the field, then walk into town for lunch, and to check out the sights.
The Columbia State Historic Park has many exhibits showing and telling about this charismatic period of American History.
To the north of Columbia is the American River, where Sutter first discovered California gold, and kicked off the whole thing. And to the south is the spectacular terrain of Yosemite National Park.
Around the Field from 2009
Originally published July 26, 2009
Arriving Early to AirVenture.
When I'm wandering around the North 40 my eye is always drawn to one of my favorite planes: the venerable Cessna 150/152. I love hearing about the hardy souls who fly this small trainer to AirVenture from some great distance.
On Friday I came across a particularly good-looking C152, and as I was admiring it I realized there was another next to it, and another next to that! Why it was practically a whole row of 150s and 152s.
Turns out they were all part of a group arrival by members of the 150/152 type club. Twenty-two of them flew in on Friday morning. They're here together celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 152.
In this group, Ray Key has the honor of having flown the furthest to get here. He's based at Flabob Airport near Riverside California.
Ray's 152 is a 1980 model and it's in terrific condition. He and his three fellow owners put in a new engine, and repainted it, three years ago. The engine is a larger than usual, a 125 hp "sparrowhawk" conversion, which also includes a better prop.
The plane has 9000 hours on the airframe but only 300 on the new engine.
Ray does a lot of flying in this little bird. He's logged almost 200 of the new engine's hours. One trick he has for finding places to fly is that he's gradually visiting every airport on the LA sectional.
"I took all the airports on it that have a hard surface and are non-military. There's roughly 98 of them. And I've visited over half of them now." He plans to complete all of them eventually.
Although Ray is a relatively new pilot -- he got his ticket just two years ago -- he does a lot of flying. "I'm flying over 150 hrs per year"
In addition to the 152 he's also a half owner of a Christian Eagle. He's learning aerobatics.
Ray flew the C152 here from Flabob in 22 flying hours, 1700 miles.
The Basic Med rule is 5 years old (sorta). Report from AOPA says, “The data clearly show that BasicMed has been an undeniable success.” Story.
Flying Boat documentary premieres. Story told by pilots, mechanics and supporters of restoration project.
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// Jack Hodgson