Friday Trip to Friday Harbor

August 26th, 2007

I had been planning a trip to Friday Harbor for weeks, and on Friday we finally made the flight. I reserved N54477 for a 7 hour block, took the day off of work, and flew with Tammy to the San Juan Islands. We departed at 1:00 pm and headed north via Longview, Chehalis, Olympia, Bremerton, and the Penn Cove VOR. The only weather we encountered along the flight were some scattered clouds at about 5,000 feet south of Bremerton, and we easily passed over the top of them at our cruising altitude of 6,500 feet. The most impressive sight along the route of flight had to be the Olympic Mountains to the west of our course; we honestly had no idea that peaks of their size existed along the Washington coast. There was plenty of military airspace to avoid on the way up. We passed over the top of area P-51 (a Navy submarine base), the Chinook B MOA which extends up to 5,000 feet, and Widbey Island Naval Air Station’s Class C airspace.

We arrived at the San Juan Islands and commenced an aerial tour, starting with Lopez island, then Orcas Island, before landing on Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Orcas Island yielded the most spectacular sights; we descended to 3,000 feet and flew through a tree-covered ravine and then directly over Mountain Lake. In the hazy distance to the west we could barely make out Victoria, Canada. All of the airports in the San Juans share the same CTAF frequency, so although the channel was congested at times, it was nice to hear position reports from other traffic as we toured the islands. After circling around Orcas Island and overflying Shaw Island, we turned towards San Juan Island.

We landed on Runway 16 at Friday Harbor Airport and taxied to the fuel pump, where I refueled the airplane myself for the first time. Downtown Friday Harbor is only a 10 minute walk from the airport, so we walked through the streets for a while looking for a good place to eat and stumbled upon the San Jan Brewing Company. We had some great Fish and Chips, Prawns, and Salmon, but neither of us cared for the fried oyster. After spending a couple hours on the ground we departed the island and headed back to Oregon, arriving in Hillsboro at 8:00 pm. The flight was a total of 4.5 hours, covering a distance of 394 nautical miles (452 statute miles). I’m very certain we’ll be repeating this trip.

(More pictures here)

Thunderstorm of the Apocalypse

August 23rd, 2007

I’m preparing for a flight to Friday Harbor tomorrow, and I’ve been following the weather forecast carefully over the past week. The forecast along my route of flight has been good, until I checked the national weather service’s graphical area forecast of the pacific northwest:

Thunderstorm of the Apocalypse!!

The NWS seems to be forecasting a super-thunderstorm of apocalyptic proportions which will cover the entire northwest around 5pm PDT tomorrow, accompanied by heavy rainfall. Apparently Utah will be spared from its wrath, as the superstorm will be precisely confined to the Idaho side of the border. Is it just a glitch in the NWS software, or cause to repent?

Boring Flight!!

August 22nd, 2007

Today I took my sister on her first general aviation flight. Our destination was Boring, Oregon, where we located one of our childhood homes. On the way there we circled her friend’s house in Canby, then we followed some power lines out to Boring with the aid of the ever-helpful sectional chart. Elena spotted the house and pond immediately, so we dropped down to 1,500 feet and circled for a few minutes. It was definitely cool seeing the old place from above.

On the return flight we were doing fine on time, so we entered Portland’s airspace and orbited downtown. Elena got some neat pictures of Portland’s bridges, and we headed back home once we had our fill. After calling Hillsboro tower they informed us of traffic climbing directly at us at 12:00 two miles out, so per the tower’s instructions we altered course 20 degrees to the left. Once we were clear they had us enter a right base for runway 30, and we touched down smoothly after some floating in ground effect.

Elena did great on the flight—no nausea and no freaking out. We called our mom after landing to let her know that both of her kids were safely on the ground, but driving and talking on my cell phone was probably more dangerous than the flight we just completed, so we made the conversation short!

(More pictures here)

The 2007 Air Show

August 21st, 2007

Tammy and I recently attended the 2007 Oregon Air Show at my home airport in Hillsboro. The airport was packed with military and civil aircraft on display, and the headliner of the show was the Blue Angels. Sean Tucker performed some amazing aerobatics in his Team Oracle biplane, we were treated with an F-117 Stealth fly-by, and there was the always impressive A10 Thunderbolt II demonstration and formation flight, this time with an A1 Skyraider. The Blue Angels were definitely the highlight of the show; I got a few videos, and Tammy snapped some great pictures of the F/A-18s in action.

More pictures here, and more videos here

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.

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