Friday, August 05, 2005

My Birthday Ride

Yesterday the weather was gorgeous and I decided to take the helicopter ride Lee gave me for my 63rd birthday. I drove down to JJ Helicopters, Inc at the tiny Torrance Airport and boarded an even tinier R22 personal helicopter produced at the famous Robinson Helicopter plant right next door. Robinson is an amazing private company founded by Frank Robinson, with revenues of more than $100M in 2004, a 63% increase over 2003. The R22 sells for $310,000.

My pilot was Hitomi Jinda a young lady from Japan. Before we took off Hitomi asked me if I wanted a door (no) and if I wanted to fly the thing (NO). I asked how much horsepower (185) and if we had enough gas (she thought so).

We lifted off and immediately climbed the 1500 foot Palos Verdes hill, heading for the ocean. The scene below is known as Portugese Point and is a famous Palos Verdes location. The founding Vanderlip family cleared the point and began construction of a mansion around 1928. The next year the stock market crashed and the plans were scrapped. The view is spectacular.

To the right of the point is Abalone Cove named for the once plentiful shellfish, and where we take kids to the tide pools. To the left of the point is Sacred Cove, a sometimes nude beach.

Hitomi took the copter South along the beach at about 500 feet as we flew over the Trump National Golf Course at Los Angeles (we used to call it Ocean Trails) then over San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles. I pointed to the Vincent Thomas Bridge and told Hitomi that the Palos Verdes Fault goes directly underneath. She said not to worry we were not going to take the bridge. Smarty-pants!

We then looped around and reclimbed the hill looking for Casa Lama. From up there most of the neighborhoods and houses looked similar but I eventually spotted Wallace Ranch and we circled over my house. It's the one in the center of the photo with the pool.

The lot size is 10,000 sq.ft. but notice how little the yard is. The neighbor above me in the picture concreted his entire yard so his kids could play tennis.

After waving to Lee in the yard we flew 1 mile back to the ocean and North past Malaga Cove to Redondo Beach and back to the airport. I aged at least a year during that 30 minute ride, but it was a real blast! Thanks Hon.


Anonymous pamela said...

WOW!! Gee, that was a great blog with pics to boot! Made me smile and think...Gee, Lee is one smart lady to give ya such a great birthday gift! Happy Birthday, Billy!

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


What a neat thing to do for your birthday, sounds like you had a lot of fun doing that.
Happy Birthday belated.


1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tour and...............Happy Birthday! Fred Mackenbach also told me that he talked to you and that Lee is feeling a little better............thank goodness for that also.

Gene Roeder

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Bill! - you are a fellow Leo. My birthday is July 28. Sounds like a great helicopter ride.


1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Bill.
Helicopter ride is an excellent idea for a gift.
-- Cc

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And at age 63 you’re losing your memory. You just sent this out 40 minutes ago!!!

Sounds like you had a great time. Happy Birthday!!


1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,
This is a very interesting article full of newsy local lore and interesting because most of us have never been on a helicopter.

Now, I want to go.


1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Bill and thanks for sharing your story and the pictures.

What an original birthday gift your wife thought of.


1:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wondered.... what is a "sometimes nude beach"???


1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,
Happy belated Birthday! is good on the hill, isn't it?!!

Wick and Karen

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How cool!


1:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aged a year did you? Now I know I'll never be as old as you.


1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How exciting! And thanks for sharing too!


1:32 PM  
Blogger pappy said...

Happy birthday thou belated. reminded me of my copter ride in Alaska. I had a big old smile on face from the time I left till I landed

11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy B-day, Bill !

We were in Tahoe for your B-day celebrating 7 Woods family members' July and Aug. B-days, including Bill Woods' 78th on 8/01 (You are such a youngster!)

Thanks for your "My Birthday Ride" (what a great present!) and the particularly interesting "Silent Heroes".

Cheers! Jo

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mean your 53rd birthday....right??????



2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Extremely stupid site. The 'big bang' theory has no room for any God. What you wrote is simply not true. What Kathrina concerns: Even president Bush acknowledged the total faliure of his administration, himself and also the local government. Solving poverty problems is not a question of spendings (donations). It is a question of education and enough jobs available

10:33 PM  

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