Monterey Peninsula Moon Golf and Pilot Songs

Sightseeing flight in the vicinity from south to north of the Monterey Peninsula. Noon. Casual.

Depart Monterey airport for a flyover, brief loop inland toward Salinas, then south along the Big Sur coast, nearly to Vandenberg Air Force Base then back again passing over Monterey Peninsula and Bay, crossing the coast around Santa Cruz (north Monterey Bay) before descending into SFO


Over Monterey airport, Monterey Bay in the distance, with the Peninsula off my right wing.

The money shot of the Monterey Peninsula.

Cannery Row (immortalized by the John Steinbeck novel) near my right wingtip, Fisherman’s Warf just behind that.

The bottom right corner of the peninsula is unfortunately where the pop singer John Denver crashed and died in his experimental plane, which is along the approach corridor to the airport. (see my later post for more details)

Just behind my left wingtip is Stillwater Cove where the first American in space Allan Shepard’s ashes were scattered in front of his home. It’s at the golf courses there at Pebble Beach. He was the first human to play golf on the moon, hitting two shots during the mission of Apollo 14.

The white water further along left of Stillwater Cove is Carmel Beach. Clint Eastwood was the one-time Mayer of Carmel.


Heading inland slightly to the north. The Salinas Valley produces 70% of the US lettuce crops.

Back out to the bay again, looks like surf’s up at Seaside. Turning south…

Down past the Peninsula and Carmel, heading down the rugged coast of Big Sur. I was on a school backpacking trip years ago in Big Sur when we saw this unexpected and spectacular green firestorm in the starry sky between the pine trees. Alien attack!? Years later I learned it was a night rocket launch from Vandenburg AFB. My only ever rocket launch. So I’m headed down south to see how far the launch site really is.

Big Sur extends down quite far. Spectacular all the way. Eventually I made it to Vandenburg and then turned back north again.

Now back over Monterey Bay headed north to SFO with the Monterey Peninsula in the distance at my tail.

Headed inland somewhere near Santa Cruz at the far north end of Monterey Bay.

North and inland toward San Fransico Bay.

descending toward SFO with Monterey Bay in the distance.

Good trip!

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Nice pictures and I love the commentary. What altitude did you cruise at?

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Thanks! I was kind of up and down in altitude at various times but the max altitude (If I remember my thinking correctly) was 10,000 feet for most of the flight. Was I higher over Santa Cruz? I might have been. Can’t remember to be honest.

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My fellow astronomy enthusiast, that’s amazing shots you’ve got there

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Thank you! Yes, can never be far from the topic of space.


Years later, apparently they found where the golf balls landed in old Apollo 14 photos of the moon.
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Fun fact: the crew of Apollo 14 was supposed to go on Apollo 13, but due to a medical condition of Alan Shepard (ear surgery), they swapped with the Apollo 14 crew for more training time. He was the oldest astronaut to walk on the moon.

If not for his medical problem, we wouldn’t have had golf on the moon (we all know what happened to Apollo 13).

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This recently surprised me (@ThatOneFloridaAvGeek unexpected space connection):
“John Denver was one of the biggest country singer-songwriters of the 1970s and was well known for his political activism and humanitarian work. The star was also extremely interested in space travel and almost joined the crew of the ill-fated Challenger”

“The singer passed the rigorous mental and physical tests required to go to space and was the leading candidate for NASA’s “first civilian in space” program.”

source: John Denver Dodged Death When He Was Rejected From NASA’s First Citizens’ Trip to Space on the Ill-Fated Challenger (cheatsheet.com)

“He was kind of a daredevil. He would cut his engine on his plane 35 miles from Aspen just to show off that he could glide it in!” (his dad was an air force pilot btw)
source: John Denver Plane Crash Explained! #johndenver #johndenverplanecrash - YouTube

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Ironically, the year of the first moon landing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” became John Denver’s breakthrough hit (when recorded by another group as their most successful song) and was later used in ads for United Airlines.

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Cool, cool, rip John.

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Nice seeing the Monterey Bay! Great space enthusiasm!

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Thanks! There are even some more space connections:

Roughly in a line along the east bound approach to Monterey airport:

  1. John Dever accident memorial (at the northwest corner of the peninsula) - he was to fly on the Space Shuttle Challenger

  2. Moon tree from a seed which orbited the moon many times with Apollo 14 (not far from Fisherman’s Warf)

  3. The Naval Post Graduate School where at least 33 astronauts graduated, including the pilot of the Space Shuttle Challenger (not too far from the threshold of runway 10R).


The Moon Tree from seeds carried around the moon on Apollo 14 (while Allan Shepard hit his golf balls down on the surface of the moon)

Astronaut Stuart Roosa who carried the seeds graduated from the above school as well.

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