Beach Trip and Salem Dinner

August 1st, 2007

Tonight we executed plans to fly to the coast and to Salem for dinner. I took Tammy and Lisa in N62407 to Tillamook, south along the coast to Pacific City, then inland to Salem for dinner. It was a hot and windy day, with the density altitude at 2500 feet and winds at 14 knots at the time of departure. We began a slow climb to the southwest and experienced some light turbulence as we approached the coastal range, so I began a circling climb over Haag Lake to attempt to reach smoother skies. Once we were above 5,000 feet the air was completely smooth, so we continued the climb to 6,500, cruised for a few minutes, then began a descent when we had Tillamook in sight.

We had a laugh at the way the Tillamook AWOS mispronounced “Tillamooke”, and we got a good look at the three rocks from the movie “Goonies”. The coast was a beautiful sight, and our time there seemed too short as we turned inland towards Salem.

Salem tower instructed us to enter left downwind for runway 31, and we followed a Piper Cherokee for landing. We taxied right up next to the restaurant and ordered dinner. We had a great view of the runway from our seats, but unfortunately there wasn’t much traffic so we didn’t see any airplane landings. After dark we hopped back into the airplane and climbed towards Hillsboro to 3,500 feet. The return flight would have been much more enjoyable without the constant punishment of the rough air. The winds were blowing at 15 knots when we entered the traffic pattern, and Lisa seemed horrified by the fact that we seemed to be flying sideways; I think it was her first experience crabbing into the wind.

We were landing on runway 30-12, and as we were about to touch down we heard “478ER crossing runway 12”. My heart leaped—that’s the runway we were about to land on, and another pilot reported he was taxiing across it! The instructor’s voice immediately corrected the student: “8ER is crossing runway 20”. That’s better. It was definitely a flight to remember.

(More pictures here)

Update: I previously mistook the stretch north of Pacific City for Cannon Beach, and the rock formations off the coast to be Haystack rock. My very observant Aunt Dianne even attempted to correct my mistake months ago.

This evening I took Lisa and Miguel up in N54477 with the intention of flying to Pacific City then up the Oregon Coast to Manzanita and back to Hillsboro. We departed at 7:35 and began a slow climb to the southeast to 6,500. As we crossed the coastal range it became clear that the entire Oregon Coast was covered in overcast! The weather observation in Astoria reported few clouds at the time of departure, but Newport was overcast, and unfortunately there are no METAR reporting points between those airports. We turned northeast towards Scappoose and climbed to 7,500 to try to get any glimpse of the ocean, but there were too many clouds.

Although we didn’t make it to the coast, I think my passengers still had a good time on their first general aviation flight. Miguel took in the scenery from the back seat, and although Lisa was a little nervous at first, I think she grew more comfortable as the flight progressed. I let her take the control wheel for a few minutes while we were over the coastal range at 7,500 feet, and she kept us straight and level like a pro. They passed the camera back and forth and took lots of great pictures.

Climbing over the Coastal RangeLakes off the Columbia

We were doing fine on time so we decided to fly over downtown, so over Scappoose I called Portland Approach and received a transponder code to enter the Class C airspace. They instructed us to maintain west of the Willamette, and we complied as we flew directly over downtown Portland. Over Lake Oswego we turned toward Hillsboro and landed straight in on runway 30 with winds from 300 at 15 knots. We all had a great time, and there was even talk of making another flight next week. Count me in!

St. John's AreaEast Portland

MiguelLisaForest GroveMiguel, AstonishedShipyardThe Freemont Bridge

(More pictures here)

Fly-In Chinese Food

July 19th, 2007
Satellite Image of the Taxiway to the Chinese Restaurant

Tonight I flew my girlfriend to Albany and ate dinner at Lum Yuen, the Chinese Restaurant right off the airport. It’s actually a very convenient fly-in restaurant. After landing, you follow the taxiway past the south end of the runway, continue over a little bridge, and park the airplane about 200 feet from the restaurant. The food was pretty good–we over-ordered and ended up flying back with three giant to-go boxes. The flight itself was nice, and although there wasn’t much of a sunset due to the cloud cover, we were able to experience the beauty of night flying on the return to Hillsboro. Upon arriving at our home airport the pattern was empty, and we weren’t in a hurry to get back on the ground, so we overflew the field and entered a 45 for a right downwind on runway 30, even though we were approaching from the south and a left base entry would have been far more efficient. Sometimes, though, efficiency isn’t the objective!

Approaching Albany

(More pictures here)

Rob & TJ’s First Flight

July 11th, 2007

This evening I took up two new friends, Rob and TJ, today being TJ’s 21st Birthday. It was another blazing hot day with a thick haze throughout the valley and light winds from the southwest. My passengers were completely ecstatic to be in an airplane, and I pretty much let them set the course for the 1.1 hour flight.

The Sun Sets Behind the Clouds over the Coastal RangeOn Glideslope, Short Final 30
Cleared For Takeoff, Runway 20Over Forest Grove at 1500 FeetTJ Freaking Out!Between Newberg and Lake OswegoLining Up for Straight-In Approach, Runway 30

We circled TJ’s house in Forest Grove at 1500 feet, then took a scenic tour of Haag Lake northwest of Gaston. We turned back to the east and flew over Newberg, then to Lake Oswego at 3000 to catch a view of downtown Portland’s high rises. We all had a blast; I think today I created some new fans of aviation! (More pictures here)

It was 100 degrees in Hillsboro today, and the density altitude at the surface was 3000 feet! I took to the air by myself in N54477 and made my way to Albany (S12) for some landing practice in the 172P. The pattern was empty, so I did 10 touch-and-gos, mostly power-off landings. My landings were looking smooth, so I departed the pattern, climbed to 4,500 feet and performed a couple power-on stalls on my way back to Hillsboro.

The haze produced a beautiful sunsetThe Willamette River on my return flight from Albany

It was an uneventful but pleasant flight, and a great way to escape to cooler temperatures on an unbearably hot day at the surface. This flight also marked my 100th hour of flying time.

Cessna 172P Checkout

July 7th, 2007
Cessna 172P

Today I was checked out to fly the Cessna 172P. It’s older than the 172SP airplanes I have been flying, and it has a carburetor instead of a fuel injection system, which requires an understanding of carburetor icing and how to prevent it. Starting the engine is also different than the SP, but simpler. The checkout went pretty well; the instructor had me do a short field takeoff from Hillsboro, perform some steep turns in the west practice area, maneuver in slow flight, and divert to Sportsman airport (2S6) in Newberg. After a full stop in Newberg we climbed to 3,500 and performed 2 power-off stalls and 2 power-on stalls, then headed back to Hillsboro for a simulated engine failure and another landing. The P model is $17/hour cheaper than the SP, so it should reduce the cost of flying a bit.

To the Summit of Mt. Hood

July 3rd, 2007

Today I rented an airplane for the first time in nearly three weeks, and what a flight! My girlfriend came equipped with her new digital SLR camera, and we flew completely around Mt. Hood just before sunset. My photographer took pictures furiously, accumulating 860 images (2.41GB worth) during the two hour flight.

Southeast Face of Mt. Hood with Mt. St. Helens in the Background

The density altitude was about 13,000 feet at cruise elevation, and the climb to cruise crawled as slow as 200 feet per minute. We climbed to 11,500 feet and circled the mountain clockwise starting from the northwest face. As we circled the mountain we could see the chair lifts at Timberline Lodge and we inspected the fine details of the glacier at the summit.

Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. AdamsNorth face of Mt. Hood with Mt. Jefferson in the Background
East Face of Mt. Hood Before SunsetThe Willamette River running through Downtown Portland after Sunset

After absorbing the view for as long as we could, we turned back towards home. I called Portland Approach 20 miles to the east of PDX and they vectored us around traffic as we descended into the class C airspace. We could see some occasional fireworks throughout the city as we crossed Portland en route to Hillsboro, then I called the tower over the west hills and closed my flight plan with McMinville radio when I had the airport in sight. After entering the pattern at Hillsboro airport I made the radio call “Hillsboro Tower Cessna 386ME on right base 30 full stop” and received the reply “386ME you’re still on McMinville Radio”. Gah!! Thoroughly embarrassed, I switched back to COM 1 and repeated my call over the correct frequency, then touched down smoothly on runway 30. We’ve been talking about making this flight ever since we visited Mt. St. Helens, and we’ll both be repeating this one many times, without question!

Northwest Face of Mt. HoodBull Run LakeSouthwest Face of Mt. HoodNorthwest Face of Mt. Hood, Just Before SunsetThe City of Vancouver and the Columbia River after SunsetThe Ross Island, Marquam, Hawthorne, and Morrison Bridges

VFR Over The Top

June 13th, 2007

This evening I rented 3555L with the intention of flying over a solid layer of clouds for the first time, and my sweetie accompanied me. Flying over a layer of clouds under visual flight rules is called “VFR Over the Top”, and it’s perfectly legal for a private pilot in the U.S., although in some countries (e.g. Canada) you need a rating for it. We stayed local to mitigate the risk of getting lost, and we always kept a “hole” in sight in case we needed to find a way back to the ground in a hurry. Over Hillsboro at takeoff the clouds were broken (5/8ths to 7/8ths sky coverage) at 4,900 feet above ground level, but we could see a solid overcast layer over the coastal range. We climbed to 9,500 feet and flew back and forth across the area between Southeast Portland and McMinville, then descended to 8,500 over the coastal mountains to witness a gorgeous sunset.

Beautiful Sunset over the Oregon Coastal Range

Cloud Deck Over the NoseSunlit Clouds over the Coastal RangeA Gorgeous Sunset, VFR over the topOvercast Clouds After Sunset

We initiated our descent south of Haag Lake, called Hillsboro Tower when we were over Forest Grove, and landed smoothly on Runway 30 with a perfectly-aligned 10 knot wind. It was definitely an amazing experience flying above the clouds, and I think we had the perfect weather for it, too!

Clouds Near Sunset, Flying over the Coastal RangeMcGuire ReservoirMt Hood Over the CloudsThe Sunset Under the Right WingLanding on Runway 30

Today at 2:00 I set out with my girlfriend on a flight to Tacoma Narrows Airport, 109 nautical miles from Hillsboro. We used Air Traffic Control’s Flight Following service to receive traffic advisories and altimeter settings en route to add an extra degree of safety to the flight. I planned a checkpoint in Olympia in order to avoid the restricted airspace over Fort Lewis.

The Tacoma Narrows ATIS reported the winds from 210 at 10 knots with gusts up to 14, and runway 17 was in use; a 40-degree, 7-10 knot crosswind. Tacoma Tower instructed us to enter right downwind for runway 17, and to report when we were 2 miles out on the 45.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge and Airport

Short final was pretty bumpy, so I held my hand on the throttle and prepared to initiate a go-around if it started looking iffy. I put in a side slip to compensate for the crosswind, and we were aligned with the centerline as the airplane entered ground effect, so I put it down on the runway. There was a tiny bounce on the touchdown, but it was under control and perfectly safe. It did get my heart beating a bit, though!

The goal of the flight was to eat dinner at the restaurant that sits directly on the general aviation ramp, but we discovered after landing that it closes at 3pm on Sunday! So instead we visited the pilot shop at the FBO, grabbed a couple of sodas, enjoyed the sun and the warm breeze for a few minutes, and hopped back in N478ER. We used Flight Following on the way back too, and received three traffic advisories. I fear that someday Flight Following may become a paid service (“user fees”), and the result would be that pilots would be discouraged from using ATC services intended for safety as a means to reduce the cost of flying.

Tammy took the controls for a good portion of the return flight, so although I acted as Pilot in Command for 2.9 hours (the entire flight), I only logged 2.4 hours of PIC time. See, you can only log PIC time for the time you are the sole manipulator of the flight controls. She did pretty good–we oscillated between 5400 and 5600 feet until we got to Longview, at which point she got it trimmed for level flight at 5500. I had her initiate the descent over Scappoose, enrichen the mixture, and level off at traffic pattern altitude in Hillsboro’s airspace. I took over the controls to fly the pattern and landed on runway 20 with a 4-knot crosswind.

Hillsboro Airport After Takeoff to KTIWInstruments in Cruise Flight to KTIWTrain Running Through ChehalisWeird Yellow Flower FieldInlets Near TacomaMore Inlets Near TacomaLooking Down Near the Shore of the InletsDream Houses Near TacomaSweetie at the Controls on the Return FlightSmog over Portland

After all that we were hungry, so we stuffed ourselves full of Indian food on the way home!

This morning I took my girlfriend on a local flight for some touch-and-gos at Aurora State and McMinville. The morning was overcast with the ceiling at 3700 feet, so we cruised over to Aurora State at 3000 MSL. It was a busy day at UAO, with at least 3 airplanes in the pattern the entire time. On our first landing attempt on runway 35, departing traffic pulled onto the runway while we were on final, so I initiated a go-around.

Aurora On Final Runway 35

The air was rough and my passenger was getting airsick, so after 4 touch-and-gos we left the pattern and turned towards McMinville. Gliders were operating off of runway 34, and engine-powered traffic were using runway 4 with a crosswind from the left. The air was way smoother in McMinville than Aurora, but my girlfriend’s condition was deteriorating after the first touch-and-go, so I made the second landing a full-stop. We got out, tied down the airplane, and walked around for a bit. We talked to some pilots in the FBO for a few minutes, enjoyed a free beverage, then hopped back in the plane and headed back to Hillsboro.

Overcast Clouds at 3700The Willamette River, North of AuroraI-5 Crossing the WillametteIntel Ronler Acres CampusGolf CourseTraffic at 2:00CemetaryGliders at McMinville

Each landing throughout the morning got progressively smoother, and the landing in Hillsboro was nearly perfect: almost no float, and a virtually imperceptible touchdown. Mission accomplished, but in hindsight I would have spent less time in the congested, turbulent air of the Aurora traffic pattern and instead spent more time at McMinville, as that probably would have been a less nauseating experience for my passenger.

I just returned from a wonderful flight up the Oregon Coast in 3555L with my girlfriend. Last night I planned the flight from Hillsboro to Newport, then north following the coast to Astoria, and back to Hillsboro via Kelso/Longview. We did a full stop in Newport, but then decided that we’d rather be in the air to see the sunset, so I taxied back to runway 34 and we took off again.

Mouth of the Salmon River on the Oregon CoastNetarts BaySunset over the Ocean

The sunset itself was somewhat indistinct; the sun sort of blurred into the haze and then disappeared. After my co-pilot snapped a few pictures and took a video of low clouds near the Salmon River, I introduced her to some new flight controls: the rudder pedals, throttle, and the elevator trim. She did such a good job with straight-and-level flight at 4,500 that I had her initiate a climb to 7,500 as we approached Astoria. She kept the Turn Coordinator‘s ball in the middle, performed a climbing turn to the right, and controlled the throttle as we leveled-off and returned to cruise flight. She did great–I was impressed!

Once night fell, I turned the instrument panel lights completely off for much of the return flight along the Columbia River so we could enjoy the darkness and the city lights beneath us–it was probably the most peaceful time I’ve experienced in an airplane. We landed in Hillsboro just minutes after the tower closed, exactly 3.0 hours after we departed.

Fred called my cell from the airport as I was driving home from work, and we made an impromptu flight to the coast, then to Salem for dinner. Fred was Pilot in Command, and I provided navigation services. We started west, with Tillamook programmed into the GPS as our first waypoint, dodging puny cumulus clouds as we cruised over the coastal range at 6,500 feet. It was as hazy as it has been for the last few weeks, and we couldn’t see the ocean until we were about 15 miles from Tillamook. After reaching the coast we couldn’t bear to leave, so we headed south along Cannon Beach to Pacific City before turning east to Salem.

The Pacific Ocean, Over Tillamook

Salem tower gave us Runway 31, and Fred made a fine landing; the approach was a little low, but it was nothing a little throttle couldn’t fix! I put Fred’s approach and landing up on Youtube. We had a nice dinner at the restaurant at the Salem Airport, and enjoyed a beautiful night flight back to Hillsboro.

The Coastal Range at 6,500 enroute to TillamookThe Coastal Range Enroute to Tillamook, Facing NorthTillamook BayPacific City Coastline

After crossing the Newberg Ridge we encountered a sky full of pilots with English that was difficult to understand over the radio, to put it politely. The tower had closed, and one pilot reported he was “in the area at 2100 looking for the airport.” Poor guy–Fred helped him out by giving him a radial to fly from the Newberg VOR. We had difficulty making out some of the other transmissions, so we played it safe and overflew the field before entering the pattern. Having two pilots really made it a smooth flight; we could share the workload and the experience. Nice flight Fred!

This evening I rented 3555L and flew my sweetie down the Columbia River Gorge to The Dalles and back, transitioning through Portland’s Class C airspace both ways. It was a hazy evening and the winds gave us some light mechanical turbulence at low altitudes, but the haze produced a pleasant red and yellow sunset.

Sunset in the Gorge

There was a 13 knot wind in The Dalles blowing from 300 degrees magnetic, perfectly aligned with Runway 30. The low level turbulence was enough to make the approach to landing an intense experience for my passenger, but she managed to keep her dinner internalized. It was dark by the time we entered the Class C airspace on the return flight, and we experienced downtown Portland from the air at night for the first time. We descended into Hillsboro well ahead of schedule with another Cross Country flight under our belts. It was a very enjoyable flight, but smoother, clearer air would have made it perfect.

Downtown Portland from the NorthOver PDXPDX and the 205 BridgeMt. Hood from the GorgeHood RiverDescending into The DallesEast Portland After SunsetDowntown Portland at Night

Saturday I planned the flight, rented N386ME, and flew my girlfriend to the summit of Mt. St. Helens. We climbed to 10,000 feet and circled counterclockwise (per the instructions in the “Special Notices” section of the Airport/Facility Directory), remaining clear of the TFR that extends 1.5nm from the crater to an elevation of 9,000ft.

Mt. St. Helens and Spirit Lake from the North

The unfortunate part about flying counterclockwise is the passenger doesn’t get a great view of the mountain from the right seat, so I took a few of the pictures. After a full stop at Chehalis-Centralia airport (KCLS) we returned to Hillsboro, crossing the Columbia River just before sunset. I’m quite certain we’ll be repeating this flight many times!

Mt. St. HelensCalculating our location during the long descent to KCLSLanding in Chehalis-Centralia (KCLS)Columbia River Looking West

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