Mammoth Lakes (KMMH), Ca

Route: From F70 we head north over KSBD (San Bernardino) after picking up Flight Following from March GCA. We head up toward L26 (Hesperia). Here is where things can get tricky. Somewhere nearby Hesperia, SoCal passes us to Joshua APP, when I switch to Joshua APP I kindly ask if R-2515 is “HOT”. This is military airspace and you must get clearance through it.

*TIP-Radar service for Flight Following is scarce through the Owens valley. You will lose FlightFollowing around BigPine going North to mammoth.

VIDEOS TO COME BELOW!!!

api
Click for sectional for KMMH

Departing from F70 runway 18  for a north departure. SEE YA!!

mammoth take off

Outcome #1:

Comanche: “Joshua APP. comanche 9238P requesting clearance through R-2515.”

 

IMG_64271Joshua APP: “Comanche 38p clear though R2515”

In outcome #1, we head direct from L26 to KIYK (Inyokern) and proceed to stay west of R-2505 by inyokern airport. Looking at the sectional map, it seems to be a VERY tight squeeze north of KIYK and the mountains to the west in order to remain clear of R-2505.  If you stay west (left) of the highway 395 you should remain clear. This section, while easier than it looks, is easy to lose focus and drift into restricted space. BTW its best to have an Ipad with Foreflight to aid in your passage. (The picture is actually from our return flight)

Time Enroute: 1hr 50min flight thru restricted 2515.

 

Off the nose you can see the tight squeeze between the restricted area and the mountains.

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Same picture after my custom doodle……

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Very happy to report that my auto pilot is working just great, her name is Monique. Good job honey!!

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Outcome #2:

Comanche: “Joshua APP. comanche 9238P requesting clearance through R-2515.”

Flightradar24
Flightradar24

Joshua APP: “Comanche 38p R-2515 is HOT, remain clear”…..Dang.

Outcome #2 Actually happened on our way up to Mammoth. This meant that we extend our trip by about 10min. After getting the “NO-GO” from Joshua APP. we kindly navigate to KWJF (General Fox) then KMHV (Mojave air and space) then finally to KIYK. This re-route put us outside R-2515 and made for a pleasant reroute full of alternate airports should something become problematic.

This detour put us on the ground in Mammoth at exactly 2hrs 1min.

Time In Flight: As stated above, either 1hr 50min or 2hrs 1min.

Airport Environment:

  • Elevation 7134ft.
  • Runway 7000ft. Ridge to  the east. Watch density altitude.
  • Runway 09 Left traffic (NO PAPI)
  • Runway 27 Right traffic
  • fuel- Yes- Expensive- Cheaper with Shell gas card.
  • oxygen available.

When coming North from KBIH (Bishop) the elevation changes from 4000 feet to 7000feet in about 30 miles so expect a possibility of weather change. The wind and weather is night and day difference from Bishop to Mammoth. When approaching KMMH you will either setup for a “straight in” or “right pattern” for runway 27. Your alternate choice is runway 090 which will be left pattern.

*TIP-If unable to land at Mammoth for weather reasons, KBIH (bishop) is a great alternative. There is a runway for nearly all wind variability.

Runways 090 and 270 offer limited selections especially when the wind is gusting up to 20knots, as it is commonly the case. I have found this wind-to-runway dilemma is pretty common. Greg at HotSprings aviation at KMMH wont argue much.

—On a side note, I have heard from two unofficial sources that mention the military used to practice crosswind landings at KMMH. I dont know if thats true, but it would not surprise me.

Mammoth crosswind landing

Left Down wind for runway 09.

TIP: The hangers on the field extend further west than the 09 runway.

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Upon landing the AWOS read “Wind 11knots gusts 15knots from 180…….Density altitude 9500feet.” (Direct cross wind). The maximum crosswind component of the Comanche I believe is 20 knots.

*TIP* there are no PAPIs or VASIs to guide your aircraft to a buttery smooth landing to runway 090 that I saw. I like to think it was skill that landed us right on the 1000foot markers but we all know it was luck….. BTW landing on 090 is maybe about a 0.2% downgrade which makes stopping more cumbersome.

noise abatement procedures……

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*There are one or two candid swear words in this video. I didnt realize my Co-pilot was video taping rather than making sure the landing gear was down…. good thing it was down.

Like they say, “A GOOD landing is one that you can walk away from, a GREAT landing is one that you can use the plane again.” Its a GREAT landing.

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Update 12/29/2016:  We had the opportunity to fly to Mammoth during the winter season and wanted to review some differences between summer and winter conditions in relation to aviation.

——What a huge difference from the picture above!!!!

Hot creek aviation at mammoth lakes
Hot creek aviation at mammoth lakes

Rainbow cabin provides 4 beds and amazing views of the convict lake area.

Convict lake resort
Convict lake resort

Winter tips:

  •   remove all frost and or ice from all surfaces prior to take off.  Frost will spoil the airflow over the wing reducing lift…..you need lift in mammoth!!!!
  • use a engine heater in the AM to pre warm the delicate cylinders.
  • Soak up all water on the planes surface as this water might freeze after takeoff once the temp has dropped below freezing up at higher altitude.

FBO:

 Hot Creek aviation was exceptional at making us feel like we were VIP. Jenna and Sara are very kind. Upon landing, Greg contacted us via CTAF and asked of our intentions. He greeted us with his golf cart, pushed our plane into its tie down spot, arranged our rental car and helped unload luggage. Thanks Greg!!

Fuel at KMMH is quite expensive and at 5.50 per gallon of 100LL you wont have any problem getting too much fuel.

*TIP-If you have a shell gas card the price per gallon drops to 4.90!!!! There is also a 15dollar per day tiedown fee. The fee is reduced to 10 dollars per day if you purchase 15gallons or more of fuel. Be careful not to overload your GW by buying too much fuel.

TIP: The FBO has engine heaters available for 35 dollars. It’s a good investment.

Hot creek aviation
Hot creek aviation

 

Near by food and drinks:

KMMH is about 8 miles from mammoth town. There is no restaurant at the airport. Rental cars are available but its best to plan accordingly to ensure availability. The friendly staff will help you with most everything.

A little hidden gem that is my ABSOLUTE favorite is Convict Lake Resort. It is situated about 3 miles directly west from mid-field. I have not confirmed, but Im sure, Brian who runs the resort, wouldn’t mind picking up some pilots at KMMH. Convict offers some, if not the best, views and ambiance around. Cabins are VERY nice and get this, are you ready? A 5-star restaurant nestled amongst the tall aspen trees and within a stones-throw from any cabin. However, I do believe they are only open for dinner. Below is the Bar. 20160622_193332

*TIP– At Convicts 5-star restaurant, get the Bananas Foster. Its a show, literally.

The good life cafe is located in Mammoth lakes town and offers exceptional service and food! 5 stars! Great for breakfast.

goodlife

Mammoth Lakes Brewery offers GREAT food and beer too. Here we have the “Best Damn Burger” and the home made “Tots”.

Mammoth lakes brewery
Mammoth lakes brewery “best damn burger” nad their tots!!!

Inside the Mammoth Lakes Brewery.

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Ordering beers……

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Places stayed: 

Convict Lake campground:

We took a stroll through the Convict Lake campground. The campground is separate from the cabins. These camp spots can be reserved on http://www.reserveamerica.com. The cabins can be reserved at http://www.convictlake.com. The views are Just AMAZING! We will be back to camp soon to camp-By Way of Comanche.

UPDATE 9/2016: We camped at Convict lake on our most recent review and WOW!!!!

Driving up to convict Lake from the airport

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our camp site #40

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This creek was 20 feet from our camp…… and I got in every chance I got.

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Not uncommon to see these guys around…..img_0513

Cooking breakfast in the morning…… nothing better!!!!

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Toast will be forever changed……..

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MAMMOTH LAKES VILLAGE: 7/2016

 Our first stop was The Village in Mammoth. The Village is new and trendy with amazing accommodations all within walking distance of the condos. They include but are not limited to, Gondola (not running during our stay) many many eateries with great happy hour(s), bike rentals, shuttles, shopping, pools, and propane fire pits….. Very Posh.

This is our condo in the Grand Sierra section. This condo is for sale by family. If you are interested, shoot me an email. (9238p @ bywayofcomanche. com) Thank you Jan and Dave for allowing us to stay here in this amazing condo.20160621_121423

Our view from the master bedroom!

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At the end of our stay in Mammoth, we opted to check out of The Village and venture to June lake. Without having any plans on where to stay or go for the night, we stumble upon the Boulder Lodge. 20160624_131514

The rooms were simple and rustic. The bed made for a firm sleep but I would go back. The Bolder Lodge is sure to disappoint you if luxury is your main focus.  Keep in mind this is nothing like The Village, but we were ok with that. The town of June lake was quite and cozy. Besides, who can beat this view right outside our door!!

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We found a local brewery in June lake, ironically called June lake brewery AKA JLB. This is a no frills, get your fill of fresh craft brew, brewery. There are plenty places to sit and a food truck 20 feet away that serves amazing food.

June lake brewery
June lake brewery

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Getting there requires some skill as you navigate down a chained off allyway. Feels like prohibition.

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Amen!

Beer savage
Beer savage

Activities: 

We love to be active. We both feel that we can not fully enjoy a couple of beers and good food if we do not exercise first. Pain before pleasure sorta thing. So here goes…..

Mammoth has SO many activities to do in the summer. For example: Dirtbiking (my favorite), mountain biking, running, swimming in the near by lakes, hiking (either local day hikes or the 200mile John Muir Trail), the list goes on.

The day starts like this!!!! We walk to Footloose rentals in Mammoth from our condo in The Village and rent mountain bikes. Each bike was 20 dollars for 4 hrs.

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Monique has never been mountain biking so we stick to the beginner trails called “up town” and “downtown” trails. Passes are required to use these trails. The good part is, they are right by The Village.

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*TIP- If you think you need to rent a mountain bike for a full day, you will probably have a heart attack by noon. Most of us “flat-landers” wont survive the 10,000 foot + density altitude while pedaling for more that 3 or 4 hrs. Save your money and buy and extra beer when you get back.

The day ends like this…..Well, not really ends, its only 1400.

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*TIP-Mammoth brewing has amazing food. My favorites are the “Best damn burger” and the home made tots (pictured above) Trust me, just get ’em.

The next day we get up and work out. We pack our day packs and hit the road to Rock Creek by Toms Place which is about 15 min south of mammoth. We enter in the John Muir Wilderness for the afternoon.

John Muir wilderness
John Muir wilderness
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After our hike, we find ourselves sipping the finest beers over looking Rock Creek. The cafe has now begun to serve beer on tap, has great food and has a convenience store. Absolutely a must see.

*TIP- The chili is great. Get a beer and some chili and sit out side. We have even sat outside when it is snowing out. Breathe the fresh air and enjoy!!!

Rock creek
Rock creek

Update: 9/2016

We found a new hiking trail just north of Lee Vining behind Lundy lake.

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Lundy lake hiking
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looking west toward Lundy lake.

Lundy lake
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A hike is not a hike without a beer at the finish…..This is why we exercise.

805 beer
805 after a long hike

UPDATE: 3/2017

-2017 was one of the wettest years in a very long time for California. During this year, mammoth had a snow record set for the most snow accumulation in one month. January  2017 happened to be that month that the record was set.  This made for some amazing skiing and snowboarding.

Monique’s first black diamond run in 25 years

 

Perfect T-shirt weather. No wind and warm.

 

Some afternoon beers in between slopes.

 

DEPARTURE: 

The next day is departure day. We wake up and head out to KMMH. During the Pre-flight I discovered some stow-aways under the cowling!! We pack up and take off. Wheels up was 0800 and the wind was calm. Departing 090 gave us the advantage of the downhill slope to gather airspeed.

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The Comanche easily holds all of this luggage in the baggage portion while still leaving 4 seats available. All this luggage filled up the entire back trunk AND seating area in this Jeep Renegade.

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With nearly 80 gallons of fresh fuel, full baggage and 2 adults, the 260B climbed at 100mph at 600feet per minute. The density altitude was about 9500 feet. We climbed to 11500 and contacted Joshua APP over Big Pine for Flight Following.

There was a large TFR due to a wild fire by Lake Isabella. The smoke nearly created IFR conditions.

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We asked for clearance through the R2515 but was denied. 10 min later we were cleared through!!! COOL. It was at this time, just south of Inyokern that my compass did this….. my gyros said we were straight and level though. This lasted a minute or so. The compass locked and did not budge. Then, as fast as it came, the problem disappeared. Never any problems after or before. Maybe its military interference??

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We landed back at F70 in 1hr 50 min. Ironically, my landing was a bit more crude and amateur at F70. The wind was calm and I remained on the glide slope all the way down. I guess Im used to landing in windy conditions.

-May your props always spin.

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3 comments on “Mammoth Lakes (KMMH), CaAdd yours →

  1. Thanks for sharing your adventure to Mammoth.
    I enjoyed reading it and I’m looking forward to seeing more trip Posts on the website too.

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