Adventure at Buttonwillow

Buttonwillow airport I honestly thought I would never do another trip report about Buttonwillow. As I've pointed out, there's not a whole lot there, which was the attraction as I got up this morning planning to go out there and get some concentrated landing practice in.

Though both SMO and Buttonwillow were reporting basically clear skies, I filed IFR to avoid some standing clouds neatly sandwiched in between the LAX Class B airspace and the mountains. For all the extra work of filing, I flew through one cloud. But I did have no trouble trying to arrange a Class B clearance. I cancelled out near Gorman, after waiting a while to get into radio coverage from Bakersfield approach.

Getting into the pattern at Buttonwillow, I found myself talking with a couple people, John and Aaron, who were there to fly radio controlled jets. Now, if you can hear “radio-controlled jets” and not want to see what's going to happen you're a better man (or woman) than I am. I decided to scrap landing practice and see what there was to see.

I spent a delightful hour or hour and a half with John and Aaron watching them prep and fly their RC planes. John was clearly an old hand while Aaron was learning the ropes. John was flying the jet and Aaron had a more conventional propeller-driven version. You can see lots of pictures of the whole process, though I couldn't get a good picture of the RC planes in flight that captured them well. It's quite a trick, controlling a 200 mph projectile when you can't see out the front. I'm very impressed at how hard one has to work to learn this skill.

In addition to the RC crowd, we were also visited by a location scout who was looking for a runway to use in an upcoming commercial. When he mentioned that the company doing/commissioning the commercial might pave the runway to get it the right color, I made sure he left with a sectional. If people are going to run around repaving runways out of their own pocket, I'm happy to assist.

Also while we were there another fellow stopped up to check on the runway condition for a friend who was flying in there next week. At that point there were five of us on the field, a good 2 more than I would have guessed knew it was there. So what I'd planned as a solitary morning of flying became a pretty social event.

When I finally pried myself away from the goings on, I gave flight service a call, and based on reports of a lingering cloud deck in the basin, filed IFR back to SMO. Again, it was useful to be IFR, but I didn't penetrate a lot of clouds.

Enjoy the pictures.

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