Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Western Edge

Engine break-in flights on a Duchess I fly are continuing and the other day saw a flight with another instructor to Shelter Cove. A cold front had just passed and it looked as if we might not get out of Oakland under VFR, but most of the clouds had cleared by the time we were ready to go.

There were some lingering clouds over the Sonoma Valley and the hills to the west, but the coast was clear. We headed toward Ocean Ridge, one of my favorite scary airports. The flight up the coast would take about 1.3 hours, mainly due to a 19 knot headwind, and that afforded a lot of time to chat. As we headed toward Ocean Ridge, we passed over a paved landing strip that I had identified several years ago as a private airport. The field was once known as Potterton and then later appeared on a CalTran Aeronautical chart as Sonoma Coast. Trees have grown up along the northwest end of the runway, but it still looks usable for smaller aircraft. There's even a hangar-like building that appears to be in very good shape. This photo is over two years old and I didn't have time to take a new photo on this trip.

As we approached the Ocean Ridge Airport I was a bit shocked to see that many of the redwood trees that used to surround the runway have been cleared, making the field seem more ... normal.

Twelve mile final to runway 30 at Shelter Cove.

On the way back, we passed over this old Union Lumber Company landing strip. Long since closed, it looks like an ideal site for an airport.


Anonymous said...

If a pilot has to make an emergency landing at a private airport like Potterton/Sonoma Coast, is it "legal" or is it still considered trespassing, even in a declared emergency?

John said...

My opinion is that a pilot who must make an emergency landing should consider using any landing sites (private or otherwise). The goals during an emergency landing are - in order - 1) minimize or eliminate hazards to persons and property on the ground, 2) protect yourself and your passengers, and 3) try to prevent or reduce damage to the aircraft - in that order.