Yesterday afternoon Tammy and I went on a long flight up the southwest coast of Washington state, landing at Hoquiam, and returning along the I-5 corridor. I’d been planning the flight for several weeks, but weather did not permit it until this past weekend. As it turned out there were plenty of clouds to dodge along the entire flight, however none of them posed a problem. Our planned course took us direct from Hillsboro to Astoria, but we deviated slightly to the south so Tammy could get a better view of Saddle Mountain from her window. We met up with the Oregon Coast near Seaside, then proceeded up to Astoria. We deviated again to get a closer look at the Astoria Bridge, and then continued up the Washington coast past Long Beach and Willapa Bay.

We ducked under some low clouds over Grays Harbor as we maneuvered to enter the traffic pattern at Hoquiam. There was an IFR flight landing straight in on the ILS for runway 24, so we extended downwind to let him go first. He executed a missed approach, and we turned base and final for landing. The sun was in our eyes as we touched down on the runway and pulled off onto the taxiway. We debated getting out of the plane and stretching our legs for a bit, but decided instead to taxi back to runway 24 and climb out to the east. Our course brought us near a pair of cooling towers from an abandoned nuclear power plant—we flew directly over them so Tammy could get a picture looking down into the giant structure. Once we were over Chehalis, we flew low along I-5 and witnessed a breathtaking sunset over the Washington coastal range. It was a gorgeous flight, and a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening.


(See the rest of the pictures here)

Dave’s Flight to Hood River

September 19th, 2007

This evening I took my very good friend Dave on a flight down the Columbia River gorge to Hood River, and back to Hillsboro. We were planning on heading north to Mount Adams, then west to Mt. St. Helens, but we got off to a late start and ended up just flying the first leg. We had flight following there and back, and there was quite a lot of chatter from PDX that frequently interrupted our conversation, so the detailed explanation of the VOR system had to wait until we were on the ground. Portland approach took us directly over downtown, then over the field and well into Vancouver, WA before allowing us to resume our own navigation to Hood River.

We stayed on frequency with Seattle Center outside of Portland’s airspace and enjoyed ATC’s wonderful flight following service as we progressed down the gorge and back. Dave took the controls for much of the return flight, keeping us level at 6,500 and maintaining course like a pro. We initiated our descent over East Portland and continued down to Hillsboro’s traffic pattern altitude, landing on runway 30. I think it was a great introduction to general aviation for Dave, and I hope we’ll be making many more flights together in the weeks to come!

(View all of the pictures here)

Over the Cascades to Pilot Butte

September 9th, 2007

Yesterday my girlfriend and I flew over the Oregon Cascades to the city of Bend and back in N478ER, a Cessna 172SP. We followed the 095 radial from the Newberg VOR to the North face of Mt. Jefferson at an altitude of 11,500 feet. After crossing the Cascades we discovered the awesome sight of the palisades of Lake Billy Chinook.

The climate east of the Cascades is considerably more arid than the west side, with landscapes unlike anything we had seen in our previous flights. We followed highway 97 south through Redmond, arriving in the skies over Bend about an hour and 20 minutes after takeoff. Our specific destination was Pilot Butte, a location known to be of great significance among my very good friends, and the source of limitless energy when properly harnessed.

We circled the butte at 2,000 feet AGL, then started our return flight without landing, as the winds in Bend were too gusty to permit a comfortable landing experience. We intercepted the Victor 165 airway from the Deschutes VOR, climbed to 10,500 feet in accordance with the hemispherical rule, and passed between Mt. Jefferson and a TFR that had been established for an active forest fire.

During our descent, when we were near the town of Aurora at about 7,000 feet, Tammy decided she was ready to experience airplane stalls. I would never intentionally stall the airplane with a new or unwilling passenger, but this was Tammy’s 15th flight with me, so I figured she was ready. I started by demonstrating a power-off stall; I lowered the flaps, entered slow flight, set the throttle at idle, pulled back on the yoke, and with the stall horn blaring the airplane barely dropped 50 feet before I recovered. She was surprised by how little she felt the stall, and she agreed her fear of the maneuver had been unfounded. Next was a demonstration of a power-on stall; with the flaps up I slowed to 60 knots, applied full power, and pitched for the stall break. This experience left her with a greater appreciation of what a stall really was, as there was a much more pronounced drop, and it put her stomach in a bit of a knot. After the stall demonstrations she wanted to see more maneuvers, so I performed some steep turns and s-turns before crossing the Newberg ridge and entering the pattern at Hillsboro airport. Tammy took over 500 pictures on the flight, with some of her most incredible images to date. It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and left me with a great desire to further explore the country on the other side of the mountains.

(Many more pictures here)

Return to Lum Yuen

September 1st, 2007

Last night Tammy and I met Fred at the airport for a flight to Albany, where we returned for Chinese food at the Lum Yuen restaurant. Fred took N62407, and Tammy and I flew in N65259. We departed shortly before 7pm, with the ATIS reporting the winds at 15 knots. Once we were airborne, Fred and I communicated on the air-to-air frequency, 122.75. I stayed mostly to the west of the Willamette River, and Fred flew on the east side.

I arrived in Albany first, and after a bumpy final approach we landed on runway 34 and taxied to the restaurant, just in time to see Fred flying over our heads during his final approach. Fred ordered the Mongolian Beef, Tammy had General Tso’s Chicken, and I had Sizzling Beef with Onions (very tasty!). We were back in the air at about 10pm, and we both leveled off at a cruising altitude of 4,500 MSL. Over Salem we encountered a pair of advertising spotlights dancing in circles on the overcast ceiling, which was quite dizzying considering we we were only about 1,000 feet below the clouds. For night-time aerial photography Tammy requires absolutely zero turbulence, so once we were past Salem we initiated a descent to 3,000 to escape some minor bumps. Fred soon followed us down to the smooth air below, and the only rough air we encountered after that was produced by mechanical turbulence from the Newberg Ridge.

Tammy continued snapping pictures as we entered the pattern at Hillsboro, performed a touch-and-go at her request, followed by a full stop. The Chinese restaurant in Albany makes a great excuse to fly, and it’s just over 50 nautical miles from Hillsboro so it counts as a Cross Country flight too!

(More pictures here)

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