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2018

I didn't venture too far afield in 2018. In fact, only two trips took me slightly outside California. Within the state, I chased 7 Vandenberg launches, plus a couple more scrubs. With the FAA's decision to remove the complex airplane requirement from the commercial practical test, I also completed my commercial checkride in my Tiger! I logged a fairly typical 172 hours during the year.

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Over Santa Cruz Island, CA, January 2018
Off the coast of Santa Barbara are a group of islands comprising Channel Islands National Park. I flew around Santa Cruz Island while waiting for a Delta IV Heavy launch that was later scrubbed.

KIZA Santa Ynez, CA, March 2018
Santa Ynez is a common fuel stop for me after watching a launch from nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base.

KDLO Delano, CA, May 2018
I had some maintenance done at Visalia, and after a later than expected departure I decided to overnight at Delano. It turned out the nearby Hyatt was sold out, so I napped in the back of the plane instead. I also passed some time playing poker at The Aviator Casino, where it turned out one of the friendly guys at the table was the owner of the place!

It's only about a 90 minute flight home from Delano, so why did I stay out there all night...?


Over KLPC, Lompoc, CA, May 2018
... Because I wanted to see the Atlas V Mars InSight launch, which occurred early that morning at 4:05AM. Dense fog covered the coast, so most ground based observers didn't get to see a thing. Above the clouds at 8500', I was lucky enough to capture this remarkable image of the launch.

KRTS Reno-Stead, NV, June 2018
Runway 8-26 was being resurfaced at Reno-Stead during this year's Hayward Air Rally. The winds cooperated for the use of Runway 32.

KLPC Lompoc, CA, October 2018
It seemed like a small Tiger convention when three of us happened to park together at Lompoc to watch the Falcon 9 SAOCOM-1A launch. This was the first Vandenberg Falcon 9 to return for a landing at the launch site.

KIFP Bullhead City, AZ, December 2018
The Laughlin, NV (PST) casinos are across the river from the airport in Bullhead City, AZ (MST). Throughout my stay, my cell phone couldn't decide what time it was, because cell towers for both cities could be received in both cities.

Over KRNM Ramona, CA, December 2018
I flew an overhead photo mission for a group of warbird pilots who performed a flyover for Ramona Airport's Toys For Tots event.

KMHV Mojave, CA December 2018
Fourteen years after Space Ship One won the X-Prize, Virgin Galactic's Space Ship Two made its first flight to the edge of space. Sir Richard Branson was in attendence, and his Falcon 900 Galactic Girl was parked on the ramp.

KOXR Oxnard, CA December 2018
At Oxnard for another Delta IV launch attempt... and another scrub...

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