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King City

Tutima Academy

Pinnacles National Monument

Fly-in Destination: King City KKIC

Half Moon Bay and Pillar Point from the southMesa Del Rey Airport, King City (KIC) is 73.8 nautical miles SSE from Reid Hillview. That makes it a popular first cross-country destination for student pilots. After King City you can cross over the hills to the Big Sur coast and fly up to Monterey, or you can fly up the Salinas Valley and avoid the big hills.

Getting There

KIC is easy enough to get to by pilotage, just follow route 101. My own favourite route is different. I use dead reckoning and fly an almost straight line from RHV past South County Airport (E16), and Hollister (KCVH).

After Hollister, the distinctive shape of the Pinnacles National Monument can be seen another 20 miles or so straight ahead. From a distance the Pinnacles look like a normal conical hill from whose top someone sliced out a wedge, leaving twin peaks with a cut between them.  This is actually half of a long extinct volcano - the other half of which is much further south nearer Los Angeles. For this volcanic plug sits on the San Andreas fault, the western side of which moves gradually northwards relative to the eastern side. There's some very active geology to be seen from the plane. Look for streams that suddenly turn 90 degrees, ancient lava flows and valleys with steep sides.

Coastline south of Half Moon BayBy aiming just east of the Pinnacles, you will follow the little valley East of the main Salinas Valley, and soon the Pinnacles will be off your right wing and you should spot the private Pinnacles Ranch Airfield. This is a grass airstrip some 3000' long oriented directly North-South. Having good landmarks helps you double check your ground speed and wind correction angle.

Passing over the Pinnacles, and turning West towards King City, the airfield is soon in sight. I haven't yet seen any other traffic here, and this time was no different, so I overflew the field to check the wind, decided on Runway 29, which is usually the one, and proceeded to fly an uneventful left traffic pattern. Uneventful that is till it seemed the plane would just keep floating and floating forever. A quick glance at the windsock confirmed that we now had almost a perfect tailwind. Thankfully the runway is pretty long for a C172 and eventually we got down and turned off at the 2nd exit. When parked at the fuel pump I looked again and now it was once again pointing back towards the big white number 29!

The Airport

HAF AirportThere isn't much to see here. The old Classic Aircraft building once housed the FBO that was owned and run by a wonderful husband and wife team, Fred and Valerie Turk. They have since retired and now the FBO is the home of Sean Tucker's Tutima Academy of Aviation Safety.

What's There?

Whether just for practice, to visit the Aerobatics School, or to take a short hike into King City, this is a nice airport to visit. Lunch in King City.

From here, you can continue your flight on to Paso Robles, or turn westbound to the Big Sur coast and Monterey.