Today was shaping up to be great.  The morning began when I met with my student Travis who was taking his Instrument Flight Instructor practical test.  A successful completion of this test would also renew his Instructor certificate and allow him to join the world of flight instructing again after a 15 year hiatus.   All was well with him, and things were in order.  I stuck around just long enough to see the paperwork get settled and I was off. I can’t stay nearby for these things, I turn into a worried mother goose and it isn’t pretty, I’ve got to get away!

Meanwhile my good  friend and student Ben was on his every other year visit from France to complete his flight review and generally have a good time flying about the west coast.  After a few weeks of bad weather, Ben arrived,  the sun came out and it became summer.  I just might have to keep him around a while if this is what he brings with him.  Todays plan was to head of in 7435X for Santa Paula (KSZP).  The day couldn’t be better, a very light warm offshore breeze, clear skies and unlimited visibility. Had Columbus been wrong I think we could have seen China today.  After an expertly executed short field approach to runway 4 we sat down at Logsdon Cafe for grilled chicken sandwiches that didn’t disappointed.

Then it was off to Mojave California, home to all great developments in aviation and space.  En route we crossed the ridge into the desert and were greeted by a wonderful surprise.  The whole desert was glowing orange and yellow with poppy flowers.  I’ve heard of this for years but have yet to see it myself.  Today was our lucky day, and it was more than I could have imagined.  The normally dry, dusty desert was glowing and it was contrast by the still flooded Rosamond Dry Lake, the site of last falls fly in,  and the snow capped Angels Forest mountain range.

After landing at Mojave Spaceport we were lucky enough to find the hangar doors open at Scales Composites and Space Ship Two and White Knight Two in full view.  We couldn’t go into the hangar but we were free to stand at the doors and stare in awe.  They are absolutely incredible machines to see, well beyond anything I’ve ever imagined.  Burt Rutan and his team certainly don’t limit their thinking to conventional boxes.

After picking up our lower jaws off the ramp we walked next door to the Voyager Cafe  and it turns they make the best milk shakes in the world, and if not, they make the best milk shakes in all of the Mojave Airport.   It was about this time that Travis (finally) called. After a considerable amount of fretting on his part he had passed.  I love having students pass, but instructors, well, there is just something even more rewarding about that.

On the flight way home we passed by the Griffith Observatory and down town Los Angeles. From well north of the LA basin we could see from Catalina Island all the way to the western most chain of Channel islands, and out east to the snowy mountains of Big Bear.

Later in the day I watched the sun settle into the Pacific while flying with Carlos, who is also prepping for his CFII check ride which happens to be tomorrow.  Ben and I are off to Mammoth Lakes, and we’ll land at every airport we can come across in between.  Tomorrow will also be a great day.