NorCal for the model aeronautically-inclined

Flying the UMX Radian at Belmont

Flying the UMX Radian with Ryan

This is a guide and a preview to upcoming articles I’ll be publishing, on Northern California through the eyes of a New Yorker, with an inclination to see things from a model aeronautic perspective. It is similar to my model-aeronautic take on Ogunquit and its  bipolar beach. Here I’ll examine various Napa Valley and Sonoma vineyards on their applicability to flying, while accompanied by my brother’s family. I’ll show you where to find legitimate flying fields manned by AMA chartered clubs, as well as secret flying places that fanatics frequent. We toured San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, Half Moon Bay, Point Lobos, Fort Ord Dunes State Park and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Useful pictures are uploaded to Wikimedia, for illustrations on various relevant Wikipedia articles, continuing my series of Wiki Vacations (from here and there). Some pictures here link to their full-resolution images on Wikimedia, as I only upload pictures up to 2048-pixels-wide to WordPress.

Vineyards Everywhere

There are vineyards everywhere, soon after one drives past the Golden Gate Bridge northward. Yeah, it is the wine country.

Wine Country - Random Napa Valley Vineyard on the side of a

Random Napa Valley vineyard on the side of a road

Wine Country -Random Sonoma County Vineyard by the side of a road

Random Sonoma County Vineyard by the side of a road

There are plenty of open fields to fly model planes. But it appears that all these beautiful lands are already claimed. We took a gondola ride up the hill to check out the Sterling Vineyards. Perhaps I would have better luck finding a place to fly on a hill – I thought. They did not even pretend to serve us decent wine for wine tasting, after having ripped us off with ridiculously expensive tickets to the gondola ride. But I have to admit that the view was spectacular. The same can’t be said of the wine.

Gondola Lift - Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley

Gondola lift – Sterling Vineyards, Napa Valley

Sterling Vineyards - Wine Barrels - Napa Valley

Wine barrels at Sterling Vineyards

You could fly a small glider from the roof of the building where the last wine was served. Perhaps tip the bartender first.

Sterling Vineyards - Wine Tasting - Napa Valley

Wine tasting on the roof with great views – Sterling Vineyards

Sterling Vineyards - Wine Tasting - Napa Valley

View from the roof

Gondola Lift - Sterling Vineyards Napa Valley

On the way down, on that expensive gondola lift

Some wineries are not conducive to model airplane flying. This one offers wine tasting in a dungeon under a medieval castle. But I really liked their Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay Reserve.

Castello di Amorosa - Wine Tasting - Napa Valley

Wine tasting at Castello di Amorosa, Napa Valley

Stone arcade? Check. Massive wooden doors with metal rivets? Check. Castello di Amorosa does appear to be a genuine castle.

Arcade at Castello di Amorosa castle winery - Napa Valley

Arcade at Castello di Amorosa

Massive wooden door with metal rivets/studs at Castello di

Massive wooden door with metal rivets

Now our program returns to wineries where you can actually fly a model plane. Artesa Vineyards is situated atop a hill, offering an exceptional view all around. Everyone is inside, busy with their wine tasting. No one will care that you fly a lightweight glider out here.

Artesa Vineyards & Winery - Napa Valley

Artesa Vineyards & Winery, Napa Valley

Artesa Vineyards & Winery Napa Valley

Everyone is inside

An Osprey flew over Artesa Vineyards & Winery Napa Valley

An osprey flew over the entrance

We stopped by the Ledson Winery & Vineyards.

Ledson Winery & Vineyards - Sonoma County

Ledson Winery & Vineyards – Sonoma County

Ryan and I flew a micro quad at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, in the back where outdoor wine tasting took place. I liked their 2014 Meritage, Anthem, Sonoma County. The 2014 Cab, Lagomarsino Vineyard, was also great.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards Sonoma County

Outdoor wine tasting at St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

AMA Chartered Clubs

There are plenty of AMA flying fields in the wine country. Start with the West Coast RC Flyers, right in the heart of Napa Valley.

West Coast RC Flyers at Kennedy Park, Napa Valley

West Coast RC Flyers at Kennedy Park, Napa Valley

Runway - West Coast RC Flyers at Kennedy Park, Napa Valley

Cormorants flew over the runway at Kennedy Park

Next we visit the beautiful flying field of the Peninsula Channel Commanders, at Half Moon Bay.

Peninsula Channel Commanders, PCC Flying Club at Half Moon B

Runway and scenery enjoyed by the Peninsula Channel Commanders, at Half Moon Bay

Peninsula Channel Commanders, PCC Flying Club at Half Moon Bay

Workbenches at the PCC

Runway at Peninsula Channel Commanders, PCC Flying Club at Half Moon Bay

Standing on the runway at PCC

Unofficial Flying Places

There are plenty of “unofficial” flying places around. The dirt jumps at the Beach Park appears to be a popular flying site among local modelers. Or at least that was what I read online.

Shells Dirt Jumps at the Beach Park, Foster City

Shells Dirt Jumps at the Beach Park, Foster City

I walked all over the place, but found no evidence of even a makeshift runway. That said, this expanse of landfill at Foster City is clearly suitable for model flying.

Shells Dirt Jumps at the Beach Park, Foster City

Ample space for landing

One could also fly a glider behind a local school which shall remain unnamed.

Flying the UMX Radian at Belmont

Flying the UMX Radian at a basketball court behind a school

Here is another secret location behind yet another local school.

Flying the UMX Radian at Belmont

Flying the UMX Radian at Belmont

Flying the UMX Radian at Belmont

It got intense

Now, the good stuff. If you want to know the best place to fly a glider around Monterey Bay, look no further. Ford Ord Dunes is the answer.

Just a word of caution. Use common sense when flying around people. As I mentioned in Droning at and around Ogunquit, safety must come first. There is a reason I only packed a lightweight and severely-underpowered sailplane. It uses a cell phone vibration motor, and is less dangerous than a battery-powered mini fan.

Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

This place was a former Army post in the past. It was used as field-artillery target range. Now it is a state park. I trust that they have cleared all unexploded ordnance.

Narrow canyon leading down to the beach, at Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

Narrow canyon leading down to the beach

Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

Scampering towards the beach

Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

Commence flying.

Flying UMX Radian at the beach, Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

Flying UMX Radian at the beach, Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

Flying the UMX Radian at the beach

Flying UMX Radian at the beach, Fort Ord Dunes State Park, Monterey Bay

The view is majestic

Yet another excellent location for slope soaring is found around Ritz-Carlton at Half Moon Bay.

Beach and Cliff at Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Beach and cliff at Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Beach and Cliff at Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Ritz-Carlton is seen perched atop an oceanside bluff, in the distance

Beach and Cliff at Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Beach and Cliff at Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Birds. They were everywhere, too.

A model aeronautically-inclined article can’t leave out the birds. They were everywhere.

I even spotted a penguin by the Santa Rosa Creek.

Black-crowned Night Heron at Santa Rosa Creek

A penguin by the Santa Rosa Creek

OK. Just kidding. It did look like a penguin. But it turned out to be a Black-crowned Night Heron.

There were, of course, seagulls everywhere, too.

Western gull at Point Lobos, Monterey County

Western gull at Point Lobos, Monterey County

Western gull is part of the Larus genus which is famous for housing a dozen types of gulls, forming a ring species that spans the globe around the arctic.

Western gull at Point Lobos, Monterey County

Western gull at Point Lobos

Common Starling at Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

Common Starling at Ritz-Carlton

Curiously, we found a mouse just a few steps away from the Common Starling.

a mouse at Half Moon Bay

A mouse at Half Moon Bay

Now, here is one ancient, now extinct (or is it?) relative of extant birds.

A sculpture of Tyrannosaurus rex at Spanish Town, Half Moon Bay

A sculpture of Tyrannosaurus rex at Spanish Town, Half Moon Bay

Being a Tourist

As a tourist from the East Coast, I couldn’t resist taking some touristy pictures.

Minced Pork Over Rice at Lollipot at Inner Parkside, San Francisco

Minced Pork Over Rice at Lollipot at Inner Parkside

Dinner at Solage an Auberge Resort

Dinner at Solage an Auberge Resort

We had to stop by one of the famous Din Tai Fung restaurants. They really ought to let me eat for free there – I uploaded this picture featured on the Wikipedia article in 2009.

Din Tai Fung at Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung at Santa Clara

Din Tai Fung at Santa Clara

Xiaolongbao made to order at the restaurant behind glass pane

Crepes of Brittany at Monterey Bay

Crepes of Brittany at Monterey Bay

Here is an uncommon tourist activity. We went into a local hobby store to buy an UMX Radian, but ended up racing RC cars indoors instead.

Indoor RC race track at Fundemonium, Rohnert Park, Sonoma County

Indoor RC race track at Fundemonium, Rohnert Park, Sonoma County

Indoor RC race track at Fundemonium, Rohnert Park, Sonoma County

Roaming Around

We drove around looking at famous places. That’s just what tourists do. There are already a few million pictures of these iconic places online. But it doesn’t hurt to add a few more to the global collection.

The truth is that while there are thousands of quality pictures of these places online, few people take the extra effort to upload them to Wikimedia and use them in Wikipedia articles.

Mission San Francisco Solano State Historic Park

Mission San Francisco Solano State Historic Park

Mission San Francisco Solano State Historic Park

Mission San Francisco Solano

Blue Wing Inn across the road from Mission San Francisco Solano State Historic Park

Blue Wing Inn across the road from Mission San Francisco

Sweet Scoops at Sonoma

Sweet Scoops at Sonoma

Then there is the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge at nightfall

Golden Gate Bridge at nightfall

Golden Gate Bridge at nightfall

Golden Gate Bridge at nightfall

Golden Gate Bridge battery Spencer in the Marin Headlands at nightfall

The Golden Gate Park was grand, but not suitable for flying.

Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park

Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park

We lingered for a good 20 minutes listening to these street musicians.

Street musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Golden Gate Park

Street musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Conservatory of Flowers

Street musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Golden Gate Park

Street musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Golden Gate Park

Street musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Golden Gate Park

More passersby stopped to appreciate street music

Street musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Golden Gate ParkStreet musicians performing in a pedestrian underpass at the Golden Gate Park

It turned into a crowd now

Metal Sculptures

On the way to Half Moon Bay, we discovered a few shops selling marvelous metal sculptures. These are a few samples.

Bald Eagle Metal Sculpture at Sun Studios, Half Moon Bay

Bald eagle metal sculpture at Sun Studios

Horse Metal Sculpture at Sun Studios, Half Moon Bay

Horse metal sculpture at Sun Studios

Horse metal sculpture at Spanish Town, Half Moon Bay

Horse metal sculpture at Spanish Town

Parasaurolophus metal sculpture at Spanish Town, Half Moon Bay

Parasaurolophus metal sculpture at Spanish Town

T. rex metal sculpture at Spanish Town, Half Moon Bay

T. rex metal sculpture at Spanish Town

Daiso Clay

The kids made clay sculptures at home that night. Note the bright red T. rex.

Daiso Clay

Daiso Clay sculptures

Daiso Clay Blueberries

Daiso Clay Blueberries

Daiso Clay Strawberry

Daiso Clay Strawberry

Daiso Clay Banana

Daiso Clay Banana

Everyone also learned to make stop motion animations with their smartphone.

Point Lobos

Point Lobos would also be a great place to fly planes.

Ocean and rock formations at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Ocean and rock formations at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Watch out for the trees, however.

Panorama during a walk in the woods at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Panorama during a walk in the woods at Point Lobos

At times you are in the woods. Then the vista opens up, and you are looking at the ocean.

A walk in the woods at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

A walk in the woods at Point Lobos

A view of the Ocean and rock formations at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

A view of the Ocean and rock formations

Ocean and rock formations at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Spectacular view of angry waves pounding on the rocks

Back in the woods.

A walk in the woods at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Now the ocean again.

Trees at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Sunset at the rock formations alongside the South Shore Trail was magnificent.

Sunset at S Shore Trail at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Sunset at South Shore Trail at Point Lobos

Sunset at S Shore Trail at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay

Rock Shapes

Some rock formations look eerily alive… or dead. These are known as mimetoliths.

Two skulls found in the woods at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay - Mimetoliths - Rock Shapes

Two skulls found in the woods at Point Lobos

An ordinary zombie from Plants vs Zombies, at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay - Mimetoliths - Rock shapes

An ordinary zombie from Plants vs Zombies – can you spot it?

Figurehead of a ship at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay - Mimetoliths - rock shapes

Figurehead of a ship at Point Lobos

Figurehead of a ship at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay - Mimetoliths - rock shapes

Three ship figureheads, at Point Lobos

Cat chasing a mouse at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay - Mimetoliths - rock shapes

Cat chasing a mouse at Point Lobos

Arm and upturned palm at Point Lobos, Monterey Bay - Mimetoliths rock shapes

An arm and an upturned palm – do you see them?

Monterey Bay Aquarium

We never miss an opportunity to visit a local aquarium, in our travels.

Wave crash tunnel at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Wave crash tunnel at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Kelp Forest at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Kelp Forest at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sardine tank at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Sardine Tank at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bigfin reef squidn in the special exhibit "Tentacles" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bigfin reef squid in the special exhibit “Tentacles” at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Bigfin reef squidn in the special exhibit "Tentacles" at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Fin

Well. That’s it. This article turned into a ridiculously long gallery of pictures, as usual.

Go forth and fly (or travel) responsibly. Also, try not to make garbage while flying (or traveling).

About Xinhai Dude 辛亥生

The name Xinhai Dude 辛亥生 is a pun in Chinese, as it means both “he who was born in Xinhai” as well as “he who studies Xinhai”. I had an ambitious plan to write something about the great Xinhai Revolution of 1911, thus my blog https://xinhaidude.com. But after an initial flurry of activities the initiative petered out. One day I will still carry it through. But for now, this website has turned into a conglomerate of my work on various topics of interest to me, including travel pictures, RC model airplane flying, ice skating, classical music composition, science fiction short stories, evolution and atheism.
This entry was posted in Being a Wikipedian, Photography, RC Planes, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s