Tonight was my third lesson for the instrument rating; it is getting progressively more challenging. We started out by flying the same route as the last lesson: the Farmington Four departure. South of the Newberg VOR we practiced a couple of steep turns, then Tyler took the controls and told me to put my head down and close my eyes. He rotated the airplane about each axis until I had absolutely no idea how we were oriented, and then he said “okay, recover to level flight.” The instruments indicated we were in a steep dive with a 30 degree bank to the right, so I pulled the power to idle, leveled the wings, put the nose on the horizon, and returned to cruise flight. Next, Tyler covered up my Heading Indicator and Attitude Indicator with a piece of paper to simulate a vacuum system failure (this is known as flying “partial panel”), and we repeated the exercise. Without the attitude indicator you have to rely on the Airspeed Indicator and Altimeter to tell you if the airplane is climbing or descending, and the Turn Coordinator is used to determine if the airplane is in a bank. All went well with the unusual attitudes, so Tyler had me do a power-on stall in a 30 degree bank to the left, which went fine as well.

Strangely enough the hard part of the lesson turned out to be calculating how many seconds I would have to stay in a standard rate turn for a particular number of degrees; it took me an embarrassingly long time to divide 20 by 3. My brain didn’t seem to want to do math after being spun around for 30 minutes in steep turns and unusual attitudes; hopefully it’s an acquired skill. Next we worked on intercepting and tracking VOR radials from the Newberg VOR. Tyler had me identify the radial we were currently on, then had me intercept a couple radials that he assigned, and track them for a couple minutes inbound and outbound. I had a much better feel for where I was located geographically during this lesson.

The highlight of the flight was the approach: we flew the full VOR/DME-C Approach to Runway 30, following the approach plate exactly. First we intercepted the initial approach fix (IAP) from the north, which for this approach was the Newberg VOR. Then we flew south on the 166 radial for one minute and executed a procedure turn to reverse direction, descending down to 2700 feet after intercepting the 166 radial inbound on a heading of about 346 degrees. Once we crossed the Newberg VOR—this time the Intermediate Fix (IF)—I called Hillsboro tower and appended “practice VOR-DME charlie approach” to the request. The tower told us to report at 6 DME, which is the point where the distance measuring equipment indicates 6 nautical miles north of the Newberg VOR. At 3.4 DME I initiated a non-precision descent to 2000 feet, and leveled out. I called the control tower and reported at 6 DME (the Final Approach Fix, or FAF), then descended to our Minimum Descent Altitude (MDA) of 700 feet, at which height we must be able to see the runway or else a missed approach must be executed. Tyler had me take off the hood, and there was the airport right where it was supposed to be! Navigating and positioning the airplane for landing without being able to see out the window was definitely a satisfying experience to say the least. There was a lot of work to do on the approach, but I think I did reasonably well. On Thursday we’re supposed to do some work with NDBs (Non-Directional Beacons), so I will be renting an airplane with an ADF. I’m hoping for bad weather so I’ll have an opportunity to fly in the clouds!

Tonight after work I met Tyler at the airport for my second IFR lesson. A cold front passed through today and I was certain tonight’s flight would be conducted in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), but by the time night fell the skies were clear. We had a good hour of ground instruction before the flight. Tyler explained the procedure for obtaining an IFR clearance, we reviewed who I should call for a clearance when I’m at a big airport (Clearance Delivery) or at a more remote airport (a Flight Service Station), and we covered where the radio frequencies are found in the US Terminal Procedures publication. We worked through the Departure Procedure charts for PDX and Hillsboro Airport, and touched on the topic of lost communication procedures. Finally, he explained the difference between a precision descent (500 FPM at 90 knots, 1700 RPM) and a non-precision descent (700-1000 FPM at 90 knots, 1400 RPM).

Once in the cockpit with the engine started Tyler gave me a mock clearance; I copied it and read it back to him. After takeoff Tyler again had me put on the hood so I couldn’t see out the window. We flew the “Farmington Four” departure to the Newberg VOR, which specifies to fly the runway heading to 500 feet, turn left to heading 120, and intercept the 346 radial to the VOR. When we were about 6 miles south of the town of Newberg we started some maneuvers.

First, steep turns on instruments, which are 360 turns in a 45 degree bank at a constant airspeed and altitude. My first steep turns weren’t the greatest… I climbed and descended more than 100 feet, and the airspeed was all over the place. Tyler taught me a trick: add 100 RPM of power after banking 30 degrees, then roll the trim wheel down twice as the wings reach 45 degrees. I’d always added power and nose-up trim for the maneuver, but never as precisely or systematically. With that technique in hand the steep turns were no problem.

Then, stalls on instruments. First we did a couple of power-off stalls to simulate a stall during an approach to landing. My power-off stalls were okay, although I needed to anticipate the need for more right rudder as I applied full power to recover, and I had a little trouble holding my heading at first. The power-on stalls, which simulate a stall after departure, were pretty smooth all things considered. I actually found power-on stalls a little easier using instruments compared to without because of the information provided by the turn coordinator and attitude indicator. In this type of stall the nose is higher than the horizon and you can’t see anything but sky out the front window, so without instruments you have to rely more on your peripheral vision to keep the wings level. The stalls went well, so we finished up by maneuvering in slow flight for a few minutes, then testing out the non-precision and precision descent power settings on the way back down to the surface. It was another great lesson; I can feel my scan improving and I’m getting more confident on instruments, although while under the hood I don’t yet have a good sense of where I am located geographically. Tyler passed me through lessons 4 and 5—our next session is scheduled for Monday.

IFR Lesson #1

October 22nd, 2007

Tonight was my first lesson for the Instrument Rating! I met my instructor, Tyler, in the pilot’s lounge at Hillsboro Aviation shortly after 6pm, and after filling out a couple of forms we headed up stairs for some ground instruction. He taught me GRABCARD, which is a mneumonic for remembering the additional equipment required for IFR flight: Generator/Alternator, Radios, Altimeter, Ball (Inclinometer), Clock, Attitude Indicator, Rate-of-Turn Indicator, and Directional Gyro (Heading Indicator). I asked him a few nit-picky questions about various regulations, then headed out to the ramp to pre-flight 3555L, my favorite 172SP. Shortly after departing to the west he had me put on the “hood”, which is very much like the “Blast Shield” that Luke Skywalker wears over his head when Ben Kenobi is teaching him to use the Light Saber; it’s technically called a view limiting device, and its purpose is to keep you from seeing out the window, forcing you to fly solely by reference to instruments.

Tyler started out by directing me to climb and fly straight and level for a few minutes. I was clearly rusty, not having flown under the hood since March. But after a couple minutes I had things sorted out, got the trim set correctly, and was able to maintain straight and level without much difficulty. He had me experiment with various descent airspeeds and power setting combinations so I could get more familiar with the performance characteristics of the airplane, and he progressively increased the difficulty of the instructions, having me perform climbing and descending standard rate turns to various altitudes and headings. Then he covered up the Heading Indicator with a piece of paper and had me perform some turns by reference to the Magnetic Compass, which is considerably more difficult because it bobbles around significantly, and has some noticeable (but predictable) errors due to a phenomenon called magnetic dip.

Finally he had me intercept and track assigned radials from the Newberg VOR. I had a tendency to overshoot the courses quite a bit when intercepting because I don’t yet have a good feel for how much to lead the turn to center the needle, but I’ll get it. Things became a lot more difficult as he further increased my workload; he had me tracking radials while making power changes to descend and talking to Air Traffic Control to obtain a landing clearance. I pulled off the hood after 1.1 hours and entered a left base for runway 30, then landed smoothly. He passed me through the first 3 lessons, and planned on us going through lessons 4 and 5 on Wednesday, leaving me with the warning that some lessons down the line will take 2 or 3 sessions to get through. I kept him for about 45 more minutes and he shared some stories of his experiences flying for an air taxi company in Alaska, and showed me some of the differences between the government IFR charts and the Jeppesen charts. He seems to be a very experienced and friendly instructor—I think this is going to be a lot of fun!

Yesterday Dave and I headed down to Hillsboro Airport and departed in N52013, the airplane I flew my first solo in almost exactly a year ago. The avionics had since been upgraded to the Garmin GNS 430, and I’d never used that particular model, so I spent a few extra moments on the ground getting familiar with it. We departed to the North, and once over Scappoose we flew Northeast toward Mt. St. Helens, climbing above the haze to 9,500 feet MSL. I used the air-to-air frequency (122.75) to keep in contact with a Bonanza that was also circling the mountain 1,000 feet above us. The mountains were of course spectacular, and Dave snapped dozens of amazing pictures of them with his SLR.

We performed some 360’s to get better views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, slowly circling the summit of the volcano. Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson were also clearly in view to the south, and when we got a little closer to Mt. Adams we could make out Gilbert Peak and White Pass (where I learned to ski!) to the northeast. We circled the crater for about an hour, heading back towards Longview shortly before sunset. I called Hillsboro tower over Cornelius Pass, reported on right downwind for runway 30, and touched down at about 6:45 after 2 hours in flight. This flight was definitely an amazing experience.

(More pictures here)

Night-Time Chinese Food Run

October 14th, 2007

I decided it was time to do some landing practice, so I booked N54477 for a flight on Friday evening. Tammy wanted to come along, so we turned it into a night-time cross country to Albany for some fly-in Chinese Food (again!), with the plan being that we’d fit in a few touch-and-gos at some point. On the drive to the airport we witnessed a breathtaking sunset; if only I had scheduled the flight an hour earlier we could have experienced it from the air.

The forecast for the evening was for overcast at 8,000 feet until midnight, at which point fog was expected to develop, so I planned for us to get back to Hillsboro well before then. I confirmed the forecast with Flightwatch on 122.0 once we were airborne, and kept an eye on the temperature-dewpoint spread as we ate dinner. Needless to say, the potential for fog occupied a great deal of my thoughts throughout the evening. The fog never did develop though, so we did some touch-and-gos at Hillsboro Airport when we returned. My landings definitely weren’t the greatest, but there was one smooth one in there, so it wasn’t a complete loss. All in all it was a fun Friday night date.

(More pictures here)

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)

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.

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

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