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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Bumpy Chehalis Flight

Friday 8/18/23 was a day that was supposed to be much cooler than the past week, and it was. Carl had just got his airplane back from the shop, so we were all set to go somewhere for lunch. After weighing the possibilities, we chose to go to Chehalis, largely because it was going to be quite windy at the coast. Also, the winds aloft were pretty spritely and we knew it would be bumpy just about anywhere, but probably worse near the Olympics.

Arlington is having their Skyfest this weekend, with the airport Community day on Sunday. As part of the Festivities, the CAF has their B-17 and B-25 on display and selling rides in both. They didn't fly the B-25 on Friday, at least during the times I was there, but they were flying the wings off of the B-17. I got there shortly after 9:00 and it was already out flying. I managed to get some decent video of it, which can be seen here.

CAF B-17 Sentimental Journey At Arlington (KAWO).

There were a couple of interesting moments during all of this. The wind had been kind of jumping around all morning, sometimes favoring runway 34, and sometimes favoring runway 16. This always creates an issue because the people at the north end of the airport don't like to taxi all the way to the south end, and the opposite for people at the south end. Under these conditions, many people want to depart from their end of the runway regardless of what the wind is doing. This prompted the airport to make it official that runway 34 is the official no wind runway, with "no wind" being defined as 5 knots or less.

That has helped some, but not as much as would be nice. For today's example, the B-17 was already airborne when I got to the airport, but shortly after I got there he landed on runway 16. About 20 minutes later, the wind was favoring 34, so that is the end he departed from and several other people did the same thing.

About 20 minutes later when the B-17 came back, the wind sort of favored 16, but it wasn't strong enough to be a really big deal. The B-17 entered the pattern to land on 34. As I was out on the ramp with camera at the ready, I also saw that at the same time there was a C-172 on downwind for 16. I have no idea what conversation, if any, took place between the pilots, but I assumed that they must be talking to each other so I figured one would make a 360 to allow the other to land or break off and use the other runway, but neither one did.

As I saw the B-17 turn final for 34, the 172 was also turning final for 16. I wondered how bad this was going to get, but at least I had my camera ready. Finally, at probably less than 100' the B-17 decided to go around. In fact, in the video linked above, you can see the 172 rolling out on 16 as the B-17 flies overhead. That allowed me to catch an extra, bonus fly-by that wasn't in the original program. Instead of turning around, the B-17 went around again and landed on 34.

When we left around noonish, the wind was once more favoring 16. As I was pulling the airplane out, a local instructor taxied by in a 172 with one of his students. Ordinarily, in a situation like this, rather than taxiing all the way up to the north end of the airport, I would just take off on 29 and stay out of other people's way. This weekend, due to the festivities, runway 11/29 is closed, so that is not an option. By the time I got in the plane and started taxiing, I saw them in the runup area at the north end.

As I taxied north, I saw another 172 on short final, and I mean really short (probably inside of 1/2 mile) final when this local instructor and student pulled out on the runway right in front of him. That is not only bad form, it is extremely dangerous. Fortunately the guy on final saw him and went around, but that situation is not always so happily concluded. At any rate, in either case no metal was bent and no blood was shed so, a good day.

I got to the runup area in time to be finished and ready to go just as the B-17 was coming back in to land again, this time on 16, so I got the airplane positioned so that I could catch the landing on my aircraft mounted cameras. That can be seen in the video linked at the end of this post.

By the time we were ready to leave the wind was from 210@8. That is a very odd direction for the wind to come from around here. It also presents a crosswind from the left. We never get a crosswind from the left around here, it is always a crosswind from the right. I took note of that thinking that it might be similar when we got back.

As expected, as soon as I was airborne, I started feeling the bumps. There was a very obvious cloud layer above and ahead, but not all that high. I figured that 4,500' under the Class B would be too bumpy, so I planned to go to at least 6,500' and around the north edge of the Class B. When I got to 4,500' though it seemed pretty smooth, so I leveled off and took a straight course for Bremerton, the first waypoint. It was only a minute or so before I started getting knocked around again and that plan changed. We ended up going up to 8,500' to get smooth air.

We had to go a little farther out to get there because there was a TFR around Bremerton. This weekend, aside from the Skyfest at Arlington, was the Wings Over Washington Airshow at Bremerton. According to their web site, this is the first time in over 30 years they've had the airshow there.

By the time we passed Bremerton, it was time to start back down. Down into all of those bumps. It didn't seem that the bumps were as bad going down as they had been going up, but they still made themselves known.

As we approached Chehalis, the wind there was almost the same as it was at Arlington, 210@6 gusting to 15. It was those gusts that I was nervous about. It didn't make a huge difference, but those conditions slightly favored 16.

Carl was fortunate and was able to make a straight in to 16 as there was no one else around at the time. I planned to follow suit, but as I approached there was an international student, most likely out of Hillsboro, Oregon, approaching from the south. I saw him on the iPad, but he was higher than me and was going to overfly the airport and descend to the southwest to enter on a forty-five. That gave me plenty of time to get down without being in his way.

Since the parking ramp is toward the south end of the airport, Carl landed long to decrease the taxi time to parking. I was just trying to make a decent landing and didn't really care which turn off I used.

As I was on short final, I saw 2 airplanes waiting to take off and one asked if he had time to go in front of me. I told him sure, but don't waste any time. Apparently, he thought I was farther out than I was. He looked again and saw me and said he would wait. Now that there are other people waiting to use the runway, I don't really want to take my time and try to pick a turnoff, I just wanted to get down and clear as quickly as I could.

I managed to pull off a pretty acceptable landing, considering the conditions. I left the music off in the video for the landing and you can really hear how rough the pavement at Chehalis is.

Once we got the airplanes parked and secured, we headed across the street to the golf course for lunch. As we topped the rise heading to the golf course we saw that there were more cars in the parking lot than we had ever seen before. Good thing we weren't driving in. As we got closer there were signs for a tournament they were holding that day. I thought "Oh No, if the restaurant is closed for a private event..." Surprisingly, when we got to the restaurant, there was almost nobody there. There were two people at the table next to ours, but they left just as we got there.

As we walked back to the airplanes, it was obvious that the wind really hadn't changed, so we would have to taxi all the way to 16 on that rough taxiway.

The takeoff was uneventful, but it sure seemed like the bumps were back with a vengeance. It finally smoothed as we passed 7,500' for 8,500'. Most of the trip back was pretty smooth. Once again, we had to start down from pretty far away to make down in time.

We changed frequencies to the Arlington frequencies at about the Hood Canal Bridge and from the time we tuned in until we were maybe 10 miles or so out there was nothing on the frequency at all, not even the Canadians over the farmer's field. Dead silence. I thought my radio wasn't working so I tried another frequency and it worked. I thought that meant we would have an easy approach and landing. Not quite.

There were about 3 other airplanes approaching at the time Carl and I did. Carl was behind an RV-12 and I had a Cub-like thing off my right wing that I passed quick enough, but there was also a 172 in front of me that I had to real right to pass, and we were too close to the airport to try, so I said I would follow him.

From about 10 miles out the AWOS was calling the wind variable at 4, though it probably still favored 16. By the time I got inside of Lake Goodwin, it was calling the wind 160 at 9. As that would make you think, the wind was moving around a bit.

While the landing I made wasn't too bad, it wasn't my best work either. On the other hand, we got to fly and lived to tell about it.

Saturday 8/19/23 was considerably smokier than forecast. The main body of smoke wasn't supposed to move in until Saturday night / Sunday morning, but in the morning the hills to the north of the airport were already becoming obscured by smoke.

The CAF was flying both the B-17 and B-25 on Saturday so we hung around to watch for a while. By noon, I was already beginning to feel the smoke in my chest and Carl in his throat, so we decided not to fly. The second bomber video can be seen here.

CAF B-25

The flight video can be found here.

The outbound track log can be found here.

The return track log can be found here.

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