Why doesn't Murtz like to fly in small planes?


May 26, 2018

Anne Marie Novinger

George and Anne Marie Novinger next to George's Cessna.

Looking at a tiny plane flying across our valley this week brought to mind some harrowing landings in George's small Cessna! Although we flew all over the United States without incident, and he flew all the way to Oaxaca, Mexico with two buddies without any problems, we did have a few white knuckle experiences.

We found ourselves landing at remote Meling Ranch in the interior of northern Baja California years ago. The short grassy strip sloped uphill and ended at the face of a mountain. Just as we touched down, our plane tire ran over a long and heavy railroad tie, used to level the strip after rains. No one had thought to remove it from the landing strip. One of our tires burst and George had to fly all the way back to Ensenada to have the tire repaired. We were flying with another plane full of friends, so another man went with George. The rest of our group of six waited patiently at Meling Ranch. I had written to them twice to tell them we were arriving that day for lunch, but they had no knowledge of that information. They also were fully booked. They did manage to fix us a quick lunch and showed us to the horse stables where we had to sleep in four aromatic cubicles on the straw.

Meanwhile, George and friend had the tire fixed in Ensenada and were flying back to us when the friend suddenly said, "George, I hear hissing." That repaired tire had sprung a leak and required a return for further patching. They finally flew in to Meling Ranch near sunset, hungry and tired. (We had made sure the railroad tie had been moved.) After a scratch dinner, again unplanned by the hosts, we had a scratchy night in the straw before heading south on our flight to the Bay of Los Angeles where we had to land in the dirt that doubled as the main road of town. That was just the start of an amazing and event-filled holiday hopping all over Baja.

Anne Marie Novinger

An aerial view of The Tehachapi Loop.

I could go on and on with frightening memories: Big bouncing Cardinal landing at Lake Elsinore, bumping through a thunderstorm in Arizona, being caught in a wind-shear just northwest of Palm Springs, running out of gas over Kentucky, losing all power over Simi Valley when our little Barbie turned off the gas dial accidentally, losing all radios on a moonless night over the coast near Palomar Mountain, hitting a power line near Frazier Park/Lockwood Valley and then crashing to the ground, loosing our bearings over west Texas, landing on top of a small mountaintop landing strip on Catalina Island with cliffs falling away at both ends, flying into a sudden large foggy cloud in a narrow valley and having to turn around in a very tight space, etc., etc. But I won't.

Do you wonder why I don't like to go flying any more?


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