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lone pine airport

Lead Sled

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It's been over 25 years since I last flew in there. I used to fly for a mining company and we had a field office near Lone Pine. I remember that one of the local county deputy sheriffs managed the airport and one day he decided that it would be a good idea to wire a piece of broom handle inside the windsock "to help it catch more air". I can remember flying over the airport to check the wind and seeing the windsock fully extended and 90 degrees to the runway. Looking around there were no other indications of any type of wind that strong. In fact, there was smoke rising straight up from a nearby chimney. After landing, I walked over to the windsock to see what was going on. About that time the Sheriff drove up. We had a pleasant conversation and I explained to him the various functions of a windsock. He wasn't convinced - after all, his modified windsock would show the direction of even the slightest breeze. It took a couple of phone calls from the California Division of Aeronautics and the FAA to change the officer's mind.

Oh, to answer your question, there wasn't much going on in Lone Pine 25 years ago. I really doubt if anything has changed. Hopefully the sheriffs deputy is no longer the airport manager.

'Sled
 

phantomdriver

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Im planning to move near Lone Pine so I just tring to get as much info as i can. For example, what is it like to fly in and out of the airport, local area to check both on the ground and the air.
 

avbug

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I used to fly into lone pine frequently to pick up emergency medical patients. Mostly at night. I never cared for flying down there at night. Usually I was coming from Reno, and would enter the canyon north of Bishop about 13,500, and work down as I flew down the canyon. Peaks on the west side are a little over 15,000, I believe, and about 9,500 on the left. On radar, it forms a narrow corridor which is misleading, because it isn't straight. Stay just east of the highway at night and (don't quote me here) I believe above 7,500' between Bishop and Lone Pine.

I think my proceedure was to cross Lone Pine at about 6,500, fly south ten miles and execute a proceedure turn on the east side of the highway, then follow the highway back north about 5,500 (don't recall field elevation) and land straight in to the north. Always departing to the south. In the day time, it looks fairly open, but landing there at night it certainly doesn't feel that way, and I treated it the way it felt.

If you're going to be basing an airplane down that way, you might consider Inyokern instead of lone pine. There's nothing really at lone pine. Nothing to do around there, other than hike. Inyokern has longer runways. They leave the FBO open at night.

I used to get a kick out of the military controllers when I'd let down through the canyon at night. They'd get excited about being able to see the terrain. XXX, do you have the terrain in sight? Negative. Terrain alert, the terrain is above you. You need to climb. I'm going to have a hard time landing at Lone Pine if I do that. We cannot provide you with terrain separation. Understood. Do you have the terrain in sight yet? Negative. It's dark. Climb, climb. Unable, landing Lone Pine. Unsafe, climb, climb. Do you hae the terrain in sight? Negative, it's night. You have terrain on both sides, climb, climb. Do you have the highway in sight? No, but we see some cars down there somewhere...

You can drive to Lancaster or Palmdale for supplies. If you're into gliding (soaring) it's available at both Lone Pine and Bishop.
 

CorpLearDriver

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avbug said:
Peaks on the west side are a little over 15,000, I believe, and about 9,500 on the left. On radar, it forms a narrow corridor which is misleading, because it isn't straight. Stay just east of the highway at night and (don't quote me here) I believe above 7,500' between Bishop and Lone Pine.

Actually Avbug,

The peaks on the West side go all the way up to 14, 495 feet, Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. There are also, along the Sierra Crest, 11 other mountains over 14,000 feet, and one, Mt. Williamson, though in the Sierra, sits just off the sierra crest at 14,375 feet. On the East, near Bishop it is the White Mountains, and White Mountain itself is 14,250 feet. To the South on the east side is the Inyo Mountains and they are closer to the 9,500 feet you mentioned. There is one more peak in California that is over 14,000 feet and that is Mt. Shasta in the Syskiyou Range of Northern California.

Phantomdriver: Things to do in Lone Pine, as far as aviation is concerned, soaring, there really isn't an operation at the field, but the valley is ripe with this kind of activity. The last I remember, California City and Inyokern had some operational activity in this area and Tehachapi has a gliderport. And you get to hear a sonic boom every once in a while when a fighter from Nellis, or China Lake or Edwards passes by. Hangliding is also a big activity.

Other activities include hiking, mountain climbing, mining history, the former Japanese Concentration Camp of Manzannar (sp?), Gold Panning in various creeks after heavy rains and a winter with a large snow pack, skiing in Mammoth and June Lakes, visiting ghost towns and mining ruins and Death Valley isn't that far away. In fact, Death Valley, being the lowest place in the lower 48 states at -282 below sea level at Badwater, is less than a hunder miles from Mt. Whitney, the highest. There is a great visitors center just south of town where 395 has a junction with the road to the east to Death Valley. If you like to fish, there are lot of places for that in the valley too.

I use to fly the valley too. Up in the morning, and down in the evening some 19 or 20 years ago in a Piper Lance for California Air Charter (now Ameriflight) out of Burbank. Turbulence over Owen's Dry Lake bed gets pretty bad at times and really chews up the air. But it is starkly beautiful country. And, besides that, I climbed in a lot of those mountains. Many an adventure I had there.

Hope this helps
 
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scangadah

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I knew a guy that was in the back of a Lance(cargo config) and the howling wind blew the door shut and locked him in. He just about froze solid when the courier let him ot.
 

HMR

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I used to fly into Lone Pine often. There's a small downtown area that you can walk to from the airport. I rode my motorcycle through there on my way to Idaho about two months ago. I had forgotten how gorgeous it is.

When the winds are calm the flying is incredible. When it starts to howl... well, I never knew King Air wings could flap like a bird 'til I started doing Lone Pine, Bishop, Mammoth, etc. in the winter.;)
 

avbug

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The peaks on the West side go all the way up to 14, 495 feet, Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states. There are also, along the Sierra Crest, 11 other mountains over 14,000 feet, and one, Mt. Williamson, though in the Sierra, sits just off the sierra crest at 14,375 feet. On the East, near Bishop it is the White Mountains, and White Mountain itself is 14,250 feet. To the South on the east side is the Inyo Mountains and they are closer to the 9,500 feet you mentioned. There is one more peak in California that is over 14,000 feet and that is Mt. Shasta in the Syskiyou Range of Northern California.

Sounds about right. Okay, again, about 7,500 down the valley is the lowest I wanted to go at night. Don't try to outclimb terrain or guess where it is, stay just east of the highway, and don't go there at night unless you've been there a few times during the day. I'll echo what others have said about turbulence when the wind blows. Going down there when the weather is low often required shooting the approach into Bishop to get under the weather, then shooting down the valley.

What I remember most about Lone Pine was that no matter how many times I told the ambulance drivers to shut off their lights, they always turned on the white side lights to load the patient, ruining any hope of night vision. I always departed south at night, regardless of wind, and only once landed to the south.

Of course, if you can live anywhere other than Kalifornia...it's always best.

Just ask any Kalifornian.
 

CorpLearDriver

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avbug said:
Of course, if you can live anywhere other than Kalifornia...it's always best.

Just ask any Kalifornian.

I'm a native "Kalifornian" and you're right. There are only two places I would care to return there to live. One is the Owens Valley/Mammoth/Hwy 395 area and the other is in Jefferson County around the Syskiyous. I Love mountains and deserts and wide open spaces. And I'm a sailplane driver as well as a "jet Jock."
 

CorpLearDriver

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scangadah said:
I knew a guy that was in the back of a Lance(cargo config) and the howling wind blew the door shut and locked him in. He just about froze solid when the courier let him ot.

I have a vague recollection of this incident. It happened after AMF intalled the all metal cargo interiors in their aircraft. When I was in the Lance, it had a 1" Plywood Bulkhead between the front two seats and the back and a plywood floor. The cargo net was thrown anchored behind the pilot seats in front of the bulkhead and was thrown over it and the cargo and attached via hooks at the rear of the cabin.

Coming out of Mammoth and Bishop at night on my way to Inyokern and Willie J Fox and Burbank, I usually overflew Lone Pine because another airplane had picked up the work 45 minutes before. So, I only had 5 bags on board, which isn't much under that cargo net. Over Owens Lake in the winter time, I'd slow way down, throw the gear out and get beat up pretty good. Those bags spent more time against the net and ceiling of the cabin than they ever did lying on the plywood.

And then there was the "squeeze".....
 

scangadah

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CorpLearDriver said:
I have a vague recollection of this incident. It happened after AMF intalled the all metal cargo interiors in their aircraft. When I was in the Lance, it had a 1" Plywood Bulkhead between the front two seats and the back and a plywood floor. The cargo net was thrown anchored behind the pilot seats in front of the bulkhead and was thrown over it and the cargo and attached via hooks at the rear of the cabin.

Coming out of Mammoth and Bishop at night on my way to Inyokern and Willie J Fox and Burbank, I usually overflew Lone Pine because another airplane had picked up the work 45 minutes before. So, I only had 5 bags on board, which isn't much under that cargo net. Over Owens Lake in the winter time, I'd slow way down, throw the gear out and get beat up pretty good. Those bags spent more time against the net and ceiling of the cabin than they ever did lying on the plywood.

And then there was the "squeeze".....

That was it exactly. That metal bulkhead had the little window in it.

I only did that run a few times. Hated the "squeeze".

I also remember that in town there is that gas station with the 2" galvy pipe welded at a crazy angle and pointed at MT. Whitney. It was mounted next to sidewalk like a hillbilly telescope.
 

CorpLearDriver

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scangadah said:
That was it exactly. That metal bulkhead had the little window in it.

I only did that run a few times. Hated the "squeeze".

I also remember that in town there is that gas station with the 2" galvy pipe welded at a crazy angle and pointed at MT. Whitney. It was mounted next to sidewalk like a hillbilly telescope.

Yeah, it is awful hard to really pick out Whitney among the all those jagged high peaks and craggs. I've been up it once, as well as Mt. Muir, Williamson and Langley.
 
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Spooky 1

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Lone Pine history

Okay I am really dating myself but here goes. Back in the early sixties there was a fellow named Bob White. He owned Bob White Flying Service out of Lone Pine and was recognized as "the authority" on flying along the Eastern Sierras. There were a couple of airports actually in the local mountains, Templeton Meadows, and Monache Meadows as I recall. Both of these airports had taken their toll on lives and airframes. Not sure if either of them are open these days. I had only been into Monache Meadows once with a fellow that had a lot more experience than I. Bob White was famous for a lot of things but probably one of the biggest was finding a DC3 that had crashed up against Mt. Whitney in the winter of 1969?

They were coming from somewhere (Hawthorne, Searchlight, NV?) to Burbank in the middle of a snowstorm. 26 pax, two pilots, and a stew. They were tryng to sneak over on to the western side of the mountains. The storm was so powerful that even though this happened around Christmas, they did not locate the airplane until the following summer. Probably a lot of DC3 parts still up there on the mountain side. It was a very big deal in the Calfornia papers at the time. I think a Google search would provide more details but none the less, Bob White was the man that found the wreckage.

Outside of Lone Pine, right up against the mountains there is a road refered to as "movie road". There were probably dozens if not more western movies shot up in these locations. Watching westerns from the 60's era, you can see some of the local sights in the background. Be sure to do the Whitney Portal climb someday. About half way up in the middle of no where you might come accross a stone cabin. This supposedly had originally belonged to Lon Channey, the early movie actor that specialized in early horror movies in the thirties. Not sure if this is true, but that was the story told in those days. You can do a Google search for all the movies made in and around Lone Pine. Quite a few.
 
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CorpLearDriver

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Spooky 1 said:
Okay I am really dating myself but here goes. Back in the early sixties there was a fellow named Bob White. He owned Bob White Flying Service out of Lone Pine and was recognized as "the authority" on flying along the Eastern Sierras. There were a couple of airports actually in the local mountains, Templeton Meadows, and Monache Meadows as I recall. Both of these airports had taken their toll on lives and airframes. Not sure if either of them are open these days. I had only been into Monache Meadows once with a fellow that had a lot more experience than I. Bob White was famous for a lot of things but probably one of the biggest was finding a DC3 that had crashed up against Mt. Whitney in the winter of 1969?

Outside of Lone Pine, right up against the mountains there is a road refered to as "movie road". There were probably dozens if not more western movies shot up in these locations. Watching westerns from the 60's era, you can see some of the local sights in the background.

I recall the name but never met him. I, glad to say, I am not going to date myself that much. :) The airstrips you mentioned are still there but unusable. Monache Meadows is the lowest in elevation and the next up is Templeton Meadows and a third one, higher still, is Tunnel Meadows. They are all consumed by or surrrounded by the Golden Trout Wilderness Area. Monache actually has a few hundred acres of private land, or did when I backpacked up there over 20 years ago. But half the stip is in the wilderness area. The cabins and such from the old ranch are still there. The route in is through Olanche and Olanche Pass. It is a one-way strip because of the hill on north side of it. Land one way, and takeoff the opposite direction.

The movie locations you talk about are all part of the Alabama Hills, just to the west of Lone Pine and as you say, are used extensively in 40's - 70's westerns. The location property has been sold and there has been a lot of development there.

Another area in the Sierras that has taken its toll in aircraft metal and body parts is Independence Pass. In the 70's the FAA published "Diamond Routes" so pilots could find their way through the mountains. The route through Independence Pass depicted either a right or left turn (I don't recall which) but it was opposite of the way your were actually supposed to turn. The fateful turn put you into a blind box canyon and it was so tight, you could't turn around in it. A lot of planes impacted the terrian with no place else to go. Soon after, the FAA removed Diamond Routes from the Sectionals.
 
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CorpLearDriver

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Spooky 1 said:
Bob White was famous for a lot of things but probably one of the biggest was finding a DC3 that had crashed up against Mt. Whitney in the winter of 1969?

They were coming from somewhere (Hawthorne, Searchlight, NV?) to Burbank in the middle of a snowstorm. 26 pax, two pilots, and a stew. They were tryng to sneak over on to the western side of the mountains. The storm was so powerful that even though this happened around Christmas, they did not locate the airplane until the following summer. Probably a lot of DC3 parts still up there on the mountain side. It was a very big deal in the Calfornia papers at the time. I think a Google search would provide more details but none the less, Bob White was the man that found the wreckage.

I was curious about the crash you described, so I did a little hunting. Here's what I found.

Date / Time: Tuesday, February 18, 1969 / 5:10 a.m.
Operator / Flight No.: Mineral County Airlines / Flight 708
Location: Near Lone Pine, Calif.


Details and Probable Cause: The vintage twin-engine Douglas DC-3 airliner (N15570), a scheduled “gamblers special” flight popular with casino-goers, was en route from Hawthorne, Nevada, to Burbank and Long Beach, carrying 32 passengers and a crew of three.

Following a visual flight rules (VFR) flightplan while flying in instrument flight rules (IFR) weather conditions, the aircraft disappeared in the vicinity of the 14,495-foot-high Mount Whitney -- the highest peak in California (and highest in the U.S. outside Alaska).

The search for the missing aircraft was suspended a week later when heavy snows blanketed the region. Almost six months later, on August 8, searchers finally were able to locate the remains of the DC-3 and its occupants when melting snows exposed the wreckage.

The airliner had slammed into the face of a near-vertical cliff at the 11,770-foot level on the eastern slope of Mt. Whitney, instantly killing all on board. Most of wreckage had then tumbled over 350 feet down a slope below the cliff.

The crash was attributed to the pilot’s improper VFR flight in IFR weather conditions, and subsequent deviation from the prescribed course into area where there were no reliable navigational aids. Fatalities: 35 -- 32 passengers and a crew of 3.

Source: http://members.aol.com/jaydeebee1/crash60s.html
 
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Flightjock30

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Is this Bob White fellow still alive does anyone know? He could be! If he was in his 30s in the early 60s you figure he would be in his 70s or 80s now.
 
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