Up, Up, and Away!

Based in San Francisco, Golden Gate Flyers is an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender pilots, aviation professionals, and aviation enthusiasts. We provide a medium whereby members can network with others both socially and professionally.


Examples of outings and activities include:

  • Annual fall hangar party at the Oakland Airport
  • Annual holiday party in December in S.F.
  • Monthly dinner meetings in San Francisco 
  • Fly-Ins to places like Palm Springs, Sunriver Lodge, Shelter Cove, Big Bear Lake
  • Oceano, Santa Barbara, Death Valley, Catalina, and Mexico.
  • Toronto gay pride, Albuquerque balloon fiesta, and other joint events with affinity groups like the National Gay Pilots Association and Southern California's Unusual Attitudes

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An Awesome Memorial Day Weekend Fly-in PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stan C.   
Saturday, 04 June 2011

After a lengthy period of rainy weather, an area of high pressure settled over Northern California for the Memorial Day weekend just in time for the Golden Gate Flyers’ long anticipated fly-in to Humboldt Bay.

PIC Mark G. had arranged group accommodations at the Red Lion Hotel in Eureka, and had arranged lots of activities for Friday afternoon and evening, Saturday, and Sunday.

Attendees included Patrick, who flew up from San Diego in a Cessna Skyhawk SP; Ralph, Larry, and Stan who flew from Oakland in Ralph and Larry’s Cessna 172; and Jim, Tim, Maya, Steve, Paul, and Harry flew in from Oakland in Jim’s Cessna Encore. Also aboard the Encore were two four-legged canine passengers, Axel and Josh. PIC Mark lives in Arcata, and enlisted his friend Todd to help him host the event.

After securing Ralph’s 172 in the transient tie-down area at Murray Field in Eureka on Friday afternoon, we were welcomed by Mark who drove us to the Red Lion.  After checking in, we all gathered in the GGF hospitality suite where Todd had set up a nice assortment of cheese and bread snacks as well as a variety of local wines and beers. In all there were three airplanes, twelve humans, and three canines in Eureka for the weekend festivities.

Friday evening after wine and appetizers, we all walked from the Red Lion to Old Town Eureka for a fabulous dinner at Avalon Restaurant before migrating to a local watering hole, Pearl Lounge, for socializing and dancing until the wee hours.

 Saturday morning after a buffet breakfast at the Red Lion, we all piled into Jim’s rented van and Mark’s pick-up truck for the short trip to Mark’s house in Arcata.  We left Jim’s, Steve’s, and Mark’s dogs to entertain themselves at Mark’s, and walked several blocks to Arcata Plaza for the start of the 42nd Annual Kinetic Grand Championship. This event is a sort of moving art triathlon where Rube Goldberg looking contraptions compete in a grueling three day, forty-two mile race through mud and water, and over gravel, sand and roads. The ingenuity that goes into the design and construction of these machines is truly amazing.  We gawked at the race entries for an hour or so before the start, and as the last racers departed the square Mark gave us a tour around downtown Arcata while waiting for our 1:30 lunch reservations at the popular Renata’s Creperie.  The variety of crepes on the menu was surprising, and I picked one with roasted chicken breast filling which was delicious. The portions were very generous.

After lunch we walked back to Mark’s place, picked up the dogs, and all piled into the van and the pick-up for the ride back to the hotel in Eureka. 

For our Saturday afternoon adventure, Mark had arranged a one and a half hour cruise around Humboldt Bay aboard the M/V Madaket, the oldest continuously operated passenger vessel in the U.S.  M/V Madaket was launched on June 6, 1910, in Fairhaven, California, and has served only on the waters of Humboldt Bay. She has the smallest licensed bar in California aboard, and celebrated her 100th birthday the weekend after our fly-in. Aboard Madaket on our cruise were a number of Mark’s local friends who had been invited by Mark to join us, and they made us feel very welcome. The tour of Humboldt Bay was greatly enhanced by Madaket’s captain, who offered commentary about local points of interest and history.

For dinner Saturday evening, we ate at Bayfront One, a new restaurant on the waterfront in Old Town Eureka, a short walk from Madaket’s dock. Bayfront One has both Italian and Japanese Teppanyaki menus, and we all chose to share a Teppanyaki table where the chef prepares the meals on a hot grill as the diners are seated around the grill. I had shrimp and chicken, and it was delicious.

After dinner, several of us went to a nearby ice cream parlor before heading back to the hotel.  It had been a busy and thoroughly enjoyable day.

Sunday morning after the buffet breakfast at the Red Lion, we walked to the Old Town Eureka waterfront to see the start of day two of the Great Kinetic Championship race. The racers had spent the night camping on the waterfront, and the contraptions were being launched into the bay for the start of the second day. This phase of the race required the machines to float, and the pedals used to transmit power to the wheels while racing on land now had to power paddle wheels or propellers. Seeing the machines morph from road mode to water mode and vice versa was fascinating.

After the racers had all departed and the crowds of spectators had dwindled, we headed back to the Red Lion to check out and head home. The weather forecast was great for the flight south - it was clear with a slight tailwind.

After checking out of the hotel, we again piled into the van, pick-up, and the Red Lion shuttle van for the trip to Murray Field. There’s a nice restaurant on the airport, so several members decided to grab a quick lunch together before leaving.

For those who weren’t quite ready to go home, Mark had another treat in store. The Arcata Community Forest is just east of town and consists of almost 800 acres with magnificent scenery and hiking trails. Although Ralph, Larry and I departed for Oakland about 1:30 and didn’t get a chance to hike through the forest, it’s high on my list of priorities the next time I visit this wonderful part of the California coast.

Thanks, Mark and Todd, for being such gracious and generous hosts. It was truly an awesome weekend.




Last Updated ( Friday, 02 August 2013 )
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