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  • Steve

RV-8 and the 2021 Thanksgiving Week Part 2

Sunday 11/21/21 was clearer than Saturday and the sky seemed to be putting on quite a light show, but as I soon found out, it was not nearly as smooth as Saturday.

I took off and headed north a bit, but when I looked to the south and saw how the sun was shining through and around the clouds I just had to head that way and check it out. I turned toward the Hood Canal and was going to head that way for possibly quite a while. Once I passed the sub base though, it started getting really bumpy so I decided to try heading north for a while. There was apparently at least a mild thermal inversion going on. That would make sense based on the layer of smoke that stayed close to the ground. Over the Hood Canal at 4,500' it was 51 degrees. It was in the mid to upper forties on the ground.

I headed toward Pt. Townsend and saw a slow moving airplane about 10 miles in front of me, so I though I would chase him down and see what it was. He turned west toward Pt. Angeles, so I followed. There were also pretty cool pockets of clouds around the mountain foot hills. I was planning to try to get close enough to the target to try to identify it, but I didn't want to freak anyone out, so when I got within about a mile I made a climbing turn back to the east.

As I got close to Whidbey Island I took a look and saw that Mt. Baker and Spike (Mt. Shuksan) had sun shining on the snowy tops and it looked really cool. I tried getting pictures of it, but I just couldn't get a good enough shot to do it justice, so I decided to head back home.

Coming back into Arlington was a bit exciting and, unfortunately, none of the excitement made it onto the camera. As I approached from the north, swinging out over Port Susan and coming up the Stillaguamish River valley, I saw several airplanes on my iPad in the vicinity of Arlington, most of them at the same altitude as me. Some of them were headed to the airport, but not all of them. I had to dodge a few in the vicinity of Silvana.

There was a Diamond Katana (I think, the one with the really long wings) first and a 172 to the south of me. I called in over Stanwood, which I mispronounced as Silvana, so that others would know I was inbound. I called again, this time over the actual Silvana, and the guy in the 172 called shortly after. He was further south, not entering the pattern where most people do. Now, to be fair, most people do it wrong and enter the pattern on the 45 a little north of the runway, as opposed to the recommended procedure to enter at mid field.

There is a reason that locals do it the way we do, namely runway 11/29. Entering the pattern the way most of us do allows that runway to be kept in view easier and longer than using the regular procedure. Since people often use both 34 and 29 simultaneously, and sometimes even at the same time, it is good to be able to see what is happening on that runway.

If I continued as I was I would end up very close to the Cessna, so I made a shallow turn to the north, after both visually and electronically making sure there was no one else in that direction. I then turned back toward the airport at about the time that a Piper called and said he was departing 29 staying in the pattern.

Now, this had me a little bit unhappy, I mean, there was hardly enough wind to even talk about, the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) was calling it 280 @ 3. As I crossed the end of 11/29 I saw him climbing below me. He was actually higher than I expected him to be at that point. At about the same time I saw a flight of about 8 geese flying over the west hangars between the Piper and the trees. Not the usual Canada Geese, but white geese. I took note, but didn't think much of it at the time.

From there most of my attention was focused on the two airplanes in front of me. They were both flying wider than necessary patterns and I was hoping to be able to turn base before I got to Paine Field. As it was, they didn't extend too far, probably about a mile further out than I usually turn base. I got to get video of some other building sites being cleared, so there was that.

About the time I was turning final I saw the Piper on downwind for 29. Oh yeah, there's that guy. It was a blue and yellow Piper, maybe either a PA-11 or PA-12. Since I was already descending I was about 400' below him. I wasn't too worried because he should have continued his downwind a bit further and we would have had no conflict. I called stating I was on final and had the Piper in sight, no factor.

All of the sudden, right on the extended center line for 34 he turned base. I called again saying I had him in sight and would go under him and I would keep an eye on him. He turned final for 29 right over 34 and came down really fast. I pushed the nose down a little to gain some more clearance. Just about the time he was directly over me, I saw 4 of the geese just off my left wing. So, no matter what happened I couldn't turn left.

AWO Pattern Map

The red line at the upper right is how most of us enter the pattern. The Green arrow is basically the recommended procedure, but coming in that way the aircraft's nose may block the view of anyone coming off of 29. The dark blue arrows are the "normal" pattern for 29. The pink(ish) line is the path that the Piper took. There's nothing wrong with that, but being non-standard, it's not what I expected him to do.

I had to thread the needle to get to the runway, but we all made it down and no metal was bent nor blood shed, so, good day. Well, it would have been a good day if I hadn't botched the landing. I was focusing on all these other obstacles and forgot to focus on the actual landing.

As I was driving in I saw a Bonanza on the flight line with some pretty heavy equipment around it which made me wonder what they were doing. Just as I was leaving the vehicle with the people working on it drove off, so I took the opportunity to get some pictures. Even after looking at it more closely, I still don't quite understand what they are doing.

They were obviously lifting the airplane for some reason. When I got there the nose gear was about half way retracted. At first, I thought maybe it made a gear up landing and they were trying to get the gear back down, but I didn't see any damage. By the time I got the pictures it looked like the nose gear was retracted and the gear doors were mostly closed.

That's quite an erector set.

What's going on? I may never know. But when I next went to the airport on Wednesday the airplane and all else were gone.

Pictures are here.

Video is here.

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