Around the world in 175 days Part 42: San Diego, Santa Monica

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September 22, 1924: They left Tucson and flew west over the Crater and Growler mountains bound for San Diego, California.  Before the flight started the flyers had taken test flights from the Douglas Factory in Santa Monica to San Diego and back so the citizens of San Diego considered there city as the starting point for the world flight.  The city had been preparing for weeks for there arrival and promoted it as the biggest celebration in city history.  Although the flight officially started in Seattle the flyers knew this also and were all lost in thought as they got closer to the coast.  They were a hundred miles out when the first Air Service planes intercepted them, eventually there were 25 planes as they approached there destination, Rockwell field on Coronado Island.  Smith wanted all three planes to touch down at the same time so they got into a line abreast formation and all there wheels touched down at the same instant. They were an hour and a half ahead of schedule so there were only a few people on the field when they landed but it included Lt Smiths Parents and Harding’s Mother.  That afternoon they were taken to a reception at Balboa park where 35,000 people where there, there largest reception yet.  In his comments Smith said, “We all got a big thrill this morning when we flew over the mountains and side by side, came down and crossed a line that we had crossed before on this flight”.  That evening they were taken to rooms in the Hotel Del Coronado where a party was held for Smith by his old friends and the others went to a dance.  That evening mechanics of the Air Service installed new engines in the planes.

October 22, 2017: In honor of all be brave fire fighters who are working so hard and bravely in my home state of California, I will be using Milton Shupe’s Grumman S-2T Civilian Turbo Tracker in CalFire livery.  The S-2 started as a carrier based ASW aircraft in 1952 with 1200 being built, the USN retired there last one in 1972 but some are still being used by navys and air forces around the world. Starting around 1970 CalFire started using converted S-2A air tankers.  In 1996 CalFire started replacing the S-2A’s with S-2E/G models that had been fully reconditioned and upgraded with turboprop engines. all were delivered by 2005 and currently 22 are in service. I also figured I needed to make a grand return to California so I got a pair of escorts to round out the flight.  I really like the model Milton's team has produced, its not P3D V4 compatible but its on the top of my wishlist for them to upgrade.

Rockwell field was transferred to the Navy in 1939 and is now part of North Island NAS.  The weather was ideal, Clear with 4 knot winds and a temperature of 31C/88F.  My flight was uneventful, at 8000 feet we cruised over the desert, crossing over the Mexican border for a while and coming into San Diego.  There were a few clouds around the coast but the air field on Coronado Island was clear.  After I landed I discovered I forgot to start the FSA client to record the flight and had to redo it (this time at x16 instead of x1).  The 323 nm flight took 1.4 hours.

Note: While the flyers may have made it around the world at this point, I have not.  But like them, my mission does not end until I reach Seattle again.

Here are the pics:

Ready to go.

Heading out of Tuscon.

Out over the desert.

Salton Sea in the distance.

Mexico in the distance.

Flying in formation over the Imperial Valley.

San Diego ahead.

All Landed.

September 23 1924:  In the early afternoon they left for Clover Field in Santa Monica, home of the Douglas factor and the second city to claim to be the starting point for the flight.  The scene in Santa Monica was in San Diego but an estimated 200,000 people were crowding the airport to get a glimpse of the famous flyers.  An grandstand had been setup and the planes taxied to the area marked for parking where a large line of guards were waiting, Smith described the scene.

“As we crawled out of our cockpits, the crowd went wild. With a roar they knocked down the fence. They knocked down the police. They knocked down the solders.  They knocked us down.  They tried to pull our ships apart for souvenirs but somehow we fought them off”. 

No work could be done that night because of the harassing crowd so they were motored into Hollywood to stay at the Christie Hotel.

October 23, 2017:  For the next leg I will be using the Tecnam P92 Eaglet.  While the design dates back to 1960 the Eaglet was introduced by Tecnam in Naples Italy in 2008 to comply with the new FAA Light Sport Aircraft rules.  The model I am using is by Ants Aircraft is very nice to fly.  I wanted to use an LSA aircraft some place on this trip and the short hop between San Diego and Santa Monica seamed the logical spot.  Weather was again nice, clear with 6 knot winds and a temperature of 32C/89F.  I flew at about 1800 to 2000 feet following the coast, landing in Santa Monica after an uneventful flight, flying the 101nm in 1.1 hours.

Ready to go.

Climbing out of Coronado Island.

Leaving San Diego Behind.

Back up the California Coast.

Good to be back.

Flying over Newport Beach Harbor.

I probably should not fly over LAX like this.

Landed in Santa Monica, and no crowds to greet me!

While I have no returned to my starting point, the like the flyers back in 1924, my mission does not end until I reach Seattle.

Thanks for reading.

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Crossed into Mexico to get into San Diego because straight in would require 7000ft....flyers back on the west coast....great looking screenshots!


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Hi Folks,

Man - great story and accompanying images - my Dad flew S2's back when they were painted white and grey - think Cuban Missile Crisis... It's amazing some are still flying albeit with new engines... Used to ride Convair 340's/440's out of North Island in the 90's to work on San Clemente Island... Thanks for reminding me of my old haunts...


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10 hours ago, joefremont said:

I probably should not fly over LAX like this.

If you look at the VFR charts that is exactly where you should cross LAX if you were at 4500' elevation. :biggrin:

I haven't had much time to get on my sim this summer but I have really enjoyed following your trip.

Thanks for the adventure,


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2 hours ago, Ted Striker said:

If you look at the VFR charts that is exactly where you should cross LAX if you were at 4500' elevation. :biggrin:

Then I should be about 3000 feet higher, thanks for that.

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