Takeoff and fly along the coast to Palomar/Carlsbad airport, and then go directly to Hector VOR, avoiding the Restricted Airspace over Twenty nine Palms. From there, go straight to Las Vegas, flying over dry lake beds, sand dunes and painted mountains. The airport is right next to the Strip, so try not to get distracted by all the sights; you will have plenty of time to see those later.
A little under 1 hour and 40 minutes – much better than that 5 hour drive!
Fly along California's scenic coast from La Jolla to Newport Beach, over LAX and Santa Barbara, past California Condor nesting areas. From there, you can follow the 101, fly over the Golden Gate Bridge, and then turn to the east andexplore the beautiful backcountry of the San Francisco Bay Area.
A little over 2 hours and 20 minutes from the time you take off to the time you land in Napa Valley.
Proper flight planning will remind you that there is no fuel available on the island, so be sure to bring enough for the return trip. The recommended route to Catalina Island is to fly low along the coast line all the way to John Wayne Airport, then shoot over and start a slight climb to get to a safe cruising altitude for the 25nm trip across the water. You will come in higher than normal. This approach can be a tricky one because of the slope of the runway. Also note the winds, as there is only one runway, which can set you up for an exciting landing. Catalina is an uncontrolled, publically owned airport that is maintained by the city of Avalon. Don't be surprised when you land as the runway surface will be a little rough.
A little over 45 minutes
Palm Springs is just a short hop over the mountains from San Diego. To make it a really exciting flight, fly due east over Mt. Laguna and then drop down into the desert. From there, head north and fly low over the Salton Sea, the farms of Coachella Valley and countless golf courses of Palm Springs. You will land right alongside regional and corporate jets, so be aware of wake turbulence.
A little under 40 minutes
This is quite the easy flight. We recommend flying up the coast going through the VFR corridor of LAX watching 747s takeoff on parallel runways, then up to Santa Barbra enjoying the sights of Central California. From there you can shoot through the Central Valley to Fresno and then up and over the snow capped peaks and arrive at the airport in no time. Be careful, there can be strong winds here and storms can appear out of nowhere especially in the summer time.
Just over 2 hours
This is quite the flight! There are many options on how to arrive at this mountain resort. This is a longer flight, so going direct is always an option. Whatever the case, you will get to test the capabilities of the aircraft as the higher elevations will create the need for higher cruising altitudes and even possibly the use of O2. However, if you want to see a bit more, we recommend flying directly to Palm Springs, enjoying the views of the desert valleys and the tall peaks rising up out of them. From there, you can go to Flagstaff, flying past the highest mountain in Arizona.