I got off work early yesterday and headed out the airport with Dave, where we rented N54477 and flew a cross country flight to Corvallis and Independence, Oregon. It was hazy with layers of cirrus and cirrostratus clouds, clear skies to the south of Hillsboro, and lots of other airplanes and helicopters in the air with us. During our climb out through the haze the tower informed all on his frequency “caution all aircraft, numerous targets in the vicinity of Forest Grove.” We stayed east of Forest Grove and scanned vigilantly for traffic as we passed over the Newberg VOR and climbed to our cruising altitude of 5,500 feet MSL. We took it slow at first, flew a 360 between Newberg and McMinville, then increased our speed to 100 knots and tracked the 174 radial of the V495 Airway to Corvallis. There wasn’t really a sunset, but the snow-flecked coastal range mountains were certainly worthy of a few photos.

There was an airplane on the VOR/DME approach for runway 35 when we entered the pattern at KCVO. I crossed the airport at midfield, checked the windsock, and maneuvered for a 45-degree entry to left downwind for runway 35. As I turned onto the downwind leg an airplane arriving from the north reported he was entering a 45 on left downwind for runway 17. We announced and coordinated our positions over the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) as I landed first, cleared the runway, and he landed the opposite direction. The windsock was pretty limp, but it was slightly in favor of 35, which is why flew over the field and picked that direction. Nevertheless, yet another airplane entered the pattern for runway 17, so I taxied us to 17 behind a departing twin, took the runway and departed to the south, then climbed back out to the north. There was a very low aircraft that looked to be an ultralight flying beneath us out of a private field (Venell). I’d say it was a moderately busy day in the skies above Corvallis.

Next we climbed and then promptly descended into Independence State Airport (7S5) which is near Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon where my very good friend Lindsay attended college. No traffic was in the pattern, so we entered on the 45 for left downwind runway 34. I let the airplane stay high on final so we floated a bit and ended up doing a full stop and taxing around to the beginning of the runway instead of executing a touch-and-go, but it gave us a chance to admire the wealthy homes immediately adjacent to the taxiway. An airplane entered the pattern as we taxied up to the runway, so we communicated over the CTAF frequency as I took the runway and departed to the north. We encountered no other aircraft within our immediate proximity for the remainder of the trip, and we landed safely back in Hillsboro. Dave and I finished up the evening with tasty Thai food at “Thai Derm” (what a name) and watched some TV over at my place with Tammy. Not bad for a Thursday night!

(flickr set)

Fred’s Bust-off-the-Rust Flight

February 16th, 2008

Fred and I met at the Hillsboro Airport this evening for a flight that was originally planned as a cross country to Eugene. However, the actual weather today was consistently worse than forecast, and at the time of departure the skies were overcast at 2700 feet, so we decided to scrap the cross country and instead make it a local flight. Fred did the majority of the flying since he hadn’t flown an airplane for a few months.

We departed to the North from Runway 30 and entered the traffic pattern for Runway 33 at Scappoose Industrial Airpark (SPB) where the skies were clear. Once we were established on the downwind leg I took the controls for a couple of touch-and-goes. After the second takeoff we departed the pattern and initiated a climb to the west just as the sun was setting over the coastal range. During the sunset the atmospheric haze turned the horizon into a deep orange color, but unfortunately I left the camera battery at home so I was unable to take a picture of it. We dodged a few puffs of clouds as we continued to climb and turn slowly to the south. We climbed to 7,500 feet and observed the overcast cloud layer over all of Hillsboro and West Portland. The AWOS at Aurora was reporting clear skies, so we proceeded to fly VFR over the top of the overcast cloud layer towards Mulino. It took us about 10 minutes to cross the overcast layer, and we initiated our descent as we approached Aurora. It was already hazy and it was growing dark by the time we reached the traffic pattern at Mulino Airport, so as a result it took us a long while to spot the airport. When we were about 8 miles out the white and green rotating beacon made itself visible, and Fred controlled the airplane as we entered the traffic pattern and landed on Runway 32.

With the airplane tied down in the transient parking lot, we got out for a few minutes to stretch our legs and use the restroom at the FBO. Back in the airplane, Fred took the left seat and we departed to the northwest for the short hop back to Hillsboro. The tower instructed us to report three miles out on a straight in for 30, and as we approached the airport a Lear Jet was cleared to land in the opposite direction. The controller knew what he was doing though—he knew the jet was considerably faster than our little Cessna, and he cleared us to land when we were on short final and when the Lear was clear of the runway. Fred landed smoothly on Runway 30 and taxied the airplane to Hillsboro Aviation. As we were packing our gear up Fred exclaimed that it was a good “bust off the rust” flight for him. Indeed, and it was a great deal of fun; I think it gave Fred the confidence to do more regular flying in the upcoming weeks and months.

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