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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Vlog: Torrey Pines

For once you have tasted flight,
you will forever walk the earth  
with your eyes turned skywards,
 for there you have been,
and  there you will always
long to return.
—Leonardo da Vinci

Recently I was invited to visit San Diego by my good friend and Cap’n Aux blog fan, commercial pilot Barry.  When his wife Becky suggested we take a drive up the coast to Torrey Pines...

my heart leapt in my throat.

Decades before, when my parents announced a vacation to the same locale, the same feeling had stirred within me.

Torrey Pines.  The very name evokes powerful emotions deep within my soul.  For, to me, Torrey Pines was a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The USHGA (now USHPA.) This sticker on the back of a car window would get my pulse racing.
As a young teen, I was obsessed with hang gliding.  Every month, I voraciously read my Hang Gliding Magazine cover to cover.  Each issue was filled with the gallant exploits of hang gliding heroes, and gorgeous color photos of famous flying spots the world ‘round.

And none was more renowned than Torrey Pines, California.

Since the late 1930’s, intrepid aviation pioneers have been soaring the ridgelines here.  Mild year-round California weather, with a steady offshore breeze pushing up the sheer cliffs to create consistent lifting action, make for perfect soaring conditions.  In the 70’s, the hang gliding craze literally took off, putting this place on the world map.

Overwhelmed with nostalgia,
I view in awe the amazing scenery
that is Torrey Pines.

Like a giddy teen on his first date, my heart raced as we pulled into the parking lot of Torrey Pines Gliderport.

No human birds graced the air that fine day, I was sad to see.  Even so, I felt flushed with anticipation at this unexpected sojourn to nirvana.   With weak knees, I walked in a trance straight to the viewpoint overlooking the ridgeline.

Right and left, the California coast
stretched for miles.
Right and left, the California coast stretched for miles.  Hundreds of feet below, nudists the size of ants strolled clothing-optional Blacks Beach—world famous in its own right, for obvious reasons.

Nudists the size of ants strolled Blacks Beach below.

A man shouted behind me.  I turned to see, in a grass field on the other side of the gliderport building, a flight instructor barking instructions to his fledgeling paraglider student.

I chat with Gliderport owner Robin and Junior, both certified Advanced paraglider instructors.  Overcome with nostalgia, I present the shop with a signed copy of "The Last Bush Pilots." 

Surreptitiously ambling over, I watched with awe as the student practiced filling his colorful sail with lift, mimicking a takeoff.
Behind me, a paragliding instructor barked orders to his student.
The clink clink of carabiners on the pilot’s harness and the thick, salty air took me back to a time when I was a mere teen, taking my first tenuous, tentative steps out of the nest and into the air.

A boy flies his kite.  My first love, a rogallo wing.

From that first flight, I was smitten.  It changed my life, and set me on a lifetime quest to conquer my new love, the sky.

Today, I know that will never happen.
For she is my master.  My teacher.  My friend.
And my fierce, fickle, moody, unforgiving lover.
And I am her devout disciple.

This post dedicated to the loving memory of
Mom and Dad...


Special thanks to Perry & Becky for inspiring this post!
TPG Photo Gallery
Torrey Pines State Natural Preserve


Posting March 6 at 11:00 PHX!

Cap'n Aux interviews a future airline pilot Swayne Martin

Check out Swayne's blog of flight training adventures over at


Posting soon!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Interlude: Philippines Flight Track!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Cap'n Speaking, from the flight deck—

Oh, wait, I'm not ON the flight deck, I'm a passenger!

Folks, as mentioned in my previous "Best of 2012" post, I'm taking February off to explore the Philippines!

A bunch of folks over on my Cap'n Aux Facebook page, as well as on are gonna have a blast flight tracking me.  Join them over there, or simply call up or your fav' tracking site and join in on the fun!

Flight Details

PR 105 (Philippine Air Lines flight 105), Departing KSFO (San Francisco Int'l) to RPLL/MNL (Manila Int'l)
Equipment: Boeing 747-400
Departing: Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013 @ 21:25 PST (Pacific Standard Time)
Arriving: Monday (Yes, TWO days later!) Feb. 11, 2013 @ 05:20 PHT (Local Philippines time)
POSSIBLE Fuel Stop: PGUM 02:41-04:05 ChST (Guam Local Time)


1.) Will Cap'n Aux make the flight?
I'll be flying STAND BY...that is, if there's a seat left after all revenue passengers are on, I'll get a seat! If not...I'll be BUMPED to the next day!
Right now, odds look good...flight is underbooked.  Cross your fingers!

2.) Will we need to stop in PGUM for fuel?
If winds are favorable, the flight crew may elect to continue non-stop to MNL!

Will Cap'n Aux find the perfect pilot watch in the streets of Manila?

Long time readers of my blog will recall my hilariously harrowing post, "The Girl, the Sold Watch and Everything," about my misadventure searching for the perfect pilot's watch in the streets of Thailand. watch done went 'n died this month, so here comes the sequel!

When I return, I plan on doing a blog post and video of all my adventures, which SHOULD include a visit to the B-747 cockpit to schmooze with my PR counterparts!

In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here's a couple AWESOME vids I found!

This is just a HOOT from beginning to end!

Black Eyed Peas "Take me to the Philippines"

"This is the Philippines" - music by Temper Trap.  You'll love the beginning, with the plane on approach and landing in MNL!

Speaking of Temper Trap, check out their Official Video, which looks like they're landing on a runway at night, followed by a wild Space Trek!


After touchdown, I'll do my best to keep you posted daily on my Philippines adventure, so stay tuned on my Cap'n Aux Facebook Page ( via Twitter (@Capnaux)!

(A reminder to all would-be burglars:  Vicious attack cat Tarzan remains on duty prowling my premesis, as does my teen son, 6'3", 230lb, Kickboxing & Glock handgun specialist Tim!)

Posting Feb 13 @ 12:00 PHX:

A Special Valentine's Vlog

A Love Story in (and of) the Sky!


Posting in March!

Cap'n Aux interviews future airline pilot Swayne!

(For a preview, Check out Swayne's blog of flight training adventures over at