Breakfast Club
An Affiliate of the Arizona Pilots Assn.


>The Knife & Fork

Breakfast Club Aims For Borrego Springs, Goes To Big Bear

11 Nov 2006
by Warren McIlvoy

This is a story that might be aptly be named, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly". First.........

"The Ugly"

Our planned fly-in destination was to be Borrego Springs, CA and the La Casa del Zorro Resort.

We were going to have breakfast on the patio deck overlooking the Rose Garden, a picturesque setting for many wedding and gatherings. We have participated in the gastronomical delights in this setting on previous occasions. Following our breakfast, it was our custom to enjoy a guided tour of the grounds of the resort led by one the Resort's staff. All that was required of the Breakfast Club was to let the Resort know about how many folks to expect at the Resort and what day and time to expect them. That was then, this is now.

After contacting the Resort and speaking with someone from the dinning room, they felt that it would be more appropriate for their "catering" department to handle this reservation. We spoke about the menu options and possibly a buffet style breakfast. The Resort folks emailed me the menus and a few days later, I called them to let them know that the menu would be more to our liking. This is where it gets really good. The Resort people then informed me that they needed an exact count of how many to expect for breakfast. And.........what each person would be choosing from the menu. I told them that I had no idea how many people would be attending. I said that, historically, I never know the attendance until we are assembled on the ramp and preparing to head towards the restaurant. And furthermore, with the exception of my wife and I, there would be no practical way for me to guess what each person would order.

The person with whom I had been speaking with said the "the hotel would be full and they needed this information in order to provide us with the best possible service". I asked her to consider our circumstances and to talk it over with the "powers that be" and let me know if we could work something out. I contacted Paul Fortune, one of the Breakfast Club Event Committee members, to see if he would contact the Resort to see if he could get any better results as I had to work the Election Polls the next day. Paul called me Tuesday afternoon to tell me that they would be getting back with him later.

Wednesday morning (three days before our schedule fly-in date), the Resort folks called me and stated that they would not be able to accommodate our group under the conditions that we needed. I told them that we would be taking our dollars elsewhere.

"The Bad"

It was now 3-days before our Saturday fly-in and nowhere to go. I wanted to go west; But where? Then I remembered that we had canceled Big Bear last year due to a sudden spike in fuel prices. It's not like they are giving the stuff away now but gas is somewhat cheaper than it was then. So Big Bear it is. I had to get an emergency Notam out immediately to let everyone know that there had been a change in plans. I also took the liberty to change the arrival time to 0900 PST so I didn't have to get up at "O-dark-thirty" and preflight the airplane in the dark.

"The Good"

Actually, it's all good from here on. After departing Deer Valley Airport westbound, I leveled-off at 8500' to enjoy the view and smooth ride. The winds were pretty light and had little effect on ground speed at this time but they were to get a bit more enthusiastic and on the nose as we neared our destination. I heralded our presence on our group flight following frequency and noted that there were several aircraft in front of me and one or two behind me. After crossing the Colorado River just south of Parker, Ken Calman (a.k.a.. BC-6) came into view on our port side. He took some photos of us and then we swapped positions because his course was direct to Big Bear but I had an interim waypoint of Twenty-Nine Palms to stay out of the restricted area.

As I crossed the waypoint, I began a climb to 10,500' so that I could do a practice GPS 26 approach into Big Bear. By now the winds had picked-up to gusts of 16 kts but were mostly down the runway. As you get close to the runway, so do the tall trees that are only a couple hundred yards outside the fence. It would be a very good practice at this point to observe the VASI lights to avoid picking pine needles out of the cowling and landing gear. I managed to find a parking place in the front row just opposite the self fueling facility. As we exited the airplane, it was quite evident that our jackets would be mandatory. The wind was brisk out of the west and at 48-degrees, it felt like it would eat right through my jacket sleeves. I took some photos of the arriving aircraft but the warmth of the Barnstorm Café was too much of an allure to remain on the ramp for any extended period of time.

The Barnstorm Café is divided into two dining areas. The first is smaller and has a couple of booths and the second, larger "patio like" area, has great views of the ramp and the mountain ridges north of the airport. The motif is a blend of mountain retreat and aviation memorabilia with pictures of everything aviation adorning the walls. The menu offers sufficient choices for the hungry aviator at very reasonable prices. The service was prompt and we received our orders in a short period of time even though the place was about 80% full. And best of all, the food was very tasty.

I took some more photos of the
Breakfast Club gang and then went out to the main lobby desk of the terminal building seeking information regarding the trolley or bus that makes a circle tour of the Big Bear area. The person that I spoke with said that the bus was scheduled to make a stop at "Big Timber", the stop closest to the airport, in about 20-minutes. About half the Breakfast Club group chose to take the leisurely, 1-hour tour. The 2-block walk to the bus stop only took a few minutes but as it turned-out, the bus was 30-minutes late. The bus made stops at every local stop before reaching the end of the line. Then it was a reverse trip including all the stops that we had seen on the first leg. We had the opportunity see every point of interest more than once. If nothing else, the bus ride was very relaxing and at a $1.00, it was inexpensive entertainment.

After getting back to the airport, most of us took advantage of the cheapest gas prices around. At $3.10 a gallon, I elected to take on about 40-gallons and then make a planned fuel stop in Blythe to top-off. By the time that we were ready to depart, the winds had become a bit more enthusiastic blowing at about 18 gusting to 26 thought still down the runway. I would guess that we were off the runway in less than 500' and climbing like a scalded hog. I made a left downwind turn before reaching the lake and now that nice headwind was now a tailwind. Our climb rate now decayed to almost nil in the turbulence and for the next twenty minutes, we were just along for the ride. At a point about 10-miles east of the mountain ridge, we had a ground speed of 189kts that lasted for about 20-seconds. Even after pulling the power back a bit; we still had a ground speed of 160-165kts, not bad for an old C-182. When we were still 40-miles out of Blythe, I started a slow, gradual descent to 1200'. The winds at Blythe favored runway 17 so I entered about a 5-mile right base for the runway. Fuel at Blythe was $3.35 or about .75 less than at Deer Valley. Later that evening, I saw a weather report that indicated that Big Bear was getting some snow. It appears that we got "otta Dodge" at the right time.

The Big Bear Gang

  • Warren & Jeri-Ann McIlvoy and Paul Fortune in 93MB, BC-1 & BC-201
  • Don Graminske in 9064V, BC-16
  • George Wilen in 5734B
  • Austin Goodwin and Tom Roche in 4351X, BC-317
  • Ken Calman and Jason Calman in 686US, BC-6
  • Rob Mooers, Austin Erwin, and John Hall in 6693M, BC-27 & BC-86


What's Next?

The Breakfast Club will end the year with a fly-in to Douglas, Arizona and a visit to the Gadsden Hotel. If you like historic places with Art Deco styling, then this is a place for you. The Breakfast Club Event Committee has put together an impressive schedule beginning in January 07. I hope that you all will take a look at our calendar and make your plans to attend many of next year's events. That's all for now but remember, fly safe.

Click the Big Bear link to view photos of this fly-in.