Desert Center Airstrip L64
July 17, 2005
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Desert Center (L64) was an Army training and support airfield during WWII, built between 1940 and 1943.
We flew N4975F out there one hot afternoon looking for our next candidate overnight fly-in camping spot - not a whole lot to see... it's the center of the desert! But that's the whole idea - escape civilization under dark skies for a night, and get there only by airplane.
Clear skies, just a touch of haze, winds from the W/NW 9 KTs, 50o C
(120o F) - very hot! Some thermals and a bit of thermal and mountain
wind uplift turbulence. We flew from MYF San Diego east over Julian and over the
North end of the Salton Sea, and onward to about 60 miles east of Palm Springs
and north of I-10 (chart below).
A few distant dust devils, hot breezes,
windsock faded & weak. The exterior of the plane was too hot to touch. So much
for the cool drinks we brought.
Yep, damn hot. The camping plan again would be to avoid the heat by flying out in the evening, landing just before sunset, waiting for sundown and then setup camp. The next morning we'd be flying out shortly after sunup.
The route of flight was the red line on the chart below. After departing MYF and cruising at 3,500 ft over the yellow of the San Diego area, climbing to 9,500 ft over Julian and over the desert and Salton Sea. Round-trip we used 27 gallons of 100LL avgas over 2.7 hours on the Hobbs meter, or 10 GPH averaging climbs @ 1.5 GAL/3,000 ft, descents and cruising with high density-altitude fuel leaning. With 13 gallons remaining we had well over an hour of reserve fuel, well above the 30-minute FAA daytime minimum.