Flying from Portland to Palm Springs


Well-Known Member
I'm going to do this trip Monday morning and unfamiliar with flying in CA. I'm going to do it VFR Victor 23 for a good chunk of CA (not quite finished with the IR yet) and fly RBL, SAC, LIN, CZQ, EHF, PMD to Banning Pass into Palm Springs (Bermuda Dunes).

Anybody have any tips, nuances, must sees etc. for this route? On the way back I'd like to try and go to Catalina. I'm at work and don't have my FARs. What are the regs. for flying over water? Is it worth it going there? Any good food? Is the airspace crazy busy? Landing fees outrageous? Thanks so much
yeah take me along with you....

Do it early if you don't like heat. The valley typically gets real hot this time of year mid day. Or what I consider real hot, which is anything over about 80 or 85
My folks have a place up about 50 miles east of Red Bluff in the hills, so I've been up that way a bit. RBL is a nice stop.

If working on IFR, good idea to track an airway. Stick to it. Hold the needle and altitude. I'll be good practice, but take a bit longer, and you'll also not get lost. Report changes to ATC like you would under IFR, good practice. They'll usually just give a "VFR decent approved" or "roger" or "your VFR silly, do what ya want", but it gets you in the habit of talking while doing stuff.

There is nothing to see out in the valley. If you are up for a different route, head down along the coast. At least from the golden gate on down. Either remain under 2000 for a bit to clear under the class B, or request through it, I've always been approved along the coast. Fly over Alcatraz, and the bridge, and the edge of the downtown area. There are airways to follow if you'd like the VOR work, but it is also real easy to see where the Pacific meets the coast. It is really hard to get lost either along the coast, or through the valley.

There is a landing fee at Catalina, but it isn't much. Nothing really there unless you pay for a ride down into Avalon, put it is a cool field on the top of a hill on a very small island. Likely the only time you'll land on a place like that.

Check for the airports along your route to find good fuel/food stops. Ask on here after you have your planned stop(s) and I'm sure someone will throw in comments on that for ya.

Have fun,
Also, be aware that there is currently a tropical flow out of Mexico and pretty much every day there have been some real good cells popping up in the afternoons. I tried to get out there yesterday, but I had to turn around. Palm Springs is just on the other side of the mountains from where I live. Keep using flight watch and the FSS. Don't get blindsided by the weather. There is a lot of turbulence this time of year plus the drafts off the mountains. The T-storms only make them worse. Make sure you have an alternate, just in case.
If you're looking for a nice place to stop for a bite I'd recommend Auburn (AUN) or Pine Mountain Lake/Groveland (Q68). Both are located in the Sierra foothills. Auburn is a pretty active uncontrolled field and the restaurant has a nice patio where you can sit and judge landings. Or, stop at Castle (MER) and try landing on a 12,000 ft runway, then check out museum. The restaurant at the museum is a small step up from a snack bar. Another option is Harris Ranch (3O8). Short, narrow strip with a pretty good restaurant.