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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Busy Weekend

Friday 7/21/23 was a very busy day, both for me and for others. Surprisingly though, Saturday 7/22/23 was considerably less so. At least from my perspective.

The reason that Friday was busy for me was because that was the day that was scheduled for me to get my Flight Review. For those who are not aware, all pilots are required to periodically fly with an instructor and review things that may not be used on a regular basis. Most of us have to do this at least once every two years. There are a number of other ways to comply, but a standard Flight Review is the most common. Per regulation, a Flight Review must consist of a minimum of one hour of ground instruction and one hour of flight instruction. Obviously, it is not possible to cover everything that a pilot is supposed to know or be able to do in that time, so it is up to the instructor to determine what will be covered, mostly to convince him that the pilot is competent to continuing exercising the privileges of his certificate and ratings.

While one can't technically fail a flight review because it is a review and not a test, an instructor can decline to endorse the pilot's log book as successfully completing the review. In such case, the pilot would have to obtain further instruction to get to a point where he could be signed off.

We were going to start with lunch and then do the bulk of the review after on the way home. Carl was going to join us for lunch, but he is currently having in issue with his airplane and opted not to fly. The marine layer was rather persistent today, so Forks or Westport were pretty much out. I was thinking we could just go to Chehalis, but Ron suggested we go to Jefferson County (0S9). It is closer and would let us get going on the review sooner.

Jefferson County is not very far away and doesn't take long to get to. I hadn't been there in a while, probably more than a year, so I thought it was a good idea. We loaded up and headed out about 12:30. Since it isn't very far, I only climbed to 2,000', otherwise, as soon as you get to cruise altitude it is time to start down again.

The wind was out of the east when we got there, so we were landing on runway 9. There were a couple of other airplanes in front of us, but not too bad.

One of things that I had forgotten was that when they rebuilt the runway last year (or maybe the year before) they changed to location of the single mid-field turn off from the runway. The old one was closer to the middle of the runway and was often usable when landing on either runway. The new runway has the turn off closer to the 9 end of the runway.

Above is the old runway configuration with the turn off very close to the middle of the runway.
New configuration after runway replacement.

Because of the new feature, it is not really feasible for me to make that turn off when landing on runway 9. The old location, which is just barely visible at the end of the video linked below, would have been doable with the use of some braking. As it was, I had to roll the full length of the runway. If I had remembered this earlier, I could have landed a little longer and cleared the runway sooner. On the other hand, it is pretty easy to make the turn off from runway 27.

I was a little surprised at how relatively few people there were at the Spruce Goose Café. It is usually a bit difficult to get a table and the ramp is often full of airplanes. In fact, I was able to pull up and park right in front of the restaurant. The whole line pf parking spots were empty, at least when we got there. It is possibly due to the fact that the marine layer cleared later today and maybe people from farther away hadn't been able to get out yet. Whatever the reason, we were able to get a table right away and actually had choices, both inside and out. It was bout the perfect day for eating outside; not too cold, not too hot, not too windy, etc., so we ate outside.

After lunch we headed out for the majority of the Flight Review. The main goal that I wanted to achieve this year was to get some time under the hood since I haven't done that in a long time. Since most of my flying is done in non-controlled airspace, and I don't usually talk to ATC, Ron likes to make sure we get some ATC time in during the review. That is pretty easy to do with the Whidbey Class C airspace right in out back yard. The plan was to fly to the Penn Cove VOR, then on to Skagit County (KBVS) through the Class C, then back to Arlington once we exited with me spending most of the trip under the hood.

Murphy reared his ugly head early on this flight and the plan was not to be. First, Since there are not a lot of places to put things in the RV-8 with a passenger, I left my hood behind the rear seat in the baggage area until after lunch. The thought being that it would be easy to get it out before we climbed in. The first hit to the plan was that once we were both strapped in and discussing the plan for the flight, I remembered that I left my hood behind the seat. Fortunately, with the curvature of the glare shield, I can get a similar effect by lowering the brim of my hat to cover the top of my forehead. That works almost as well, and certainly good enough for our purposes.

The Whidbey Class C is only about 9 miles from Jefferson County, so there isn't a lot of time after takeoff to get settled. Passing 1,100 MSL, in accordance with the local noise abatement procedure, I turned toward the Penn Cove VOR and the Whidbey Class C. As soon as I tuned in the frequency it was obvious that there were a lot of people in the Whidbey area today. The Whidbey Class C isn't just used by the Navy, it also gets a lot of civilian usage, mostly people coming and going to the San Juan Islands. When I heard a break on the frequency I made a call to ATC. I listened but got no response.

A few minutes later, I called again and was told specifically to "remain clear of the Class C." Hoping that the controller might come back in a couple of minutes, we waited around, but we got not further communication and a clear instruction to keep out, so we went to plan B.

We turned to the west and I got set up with my view limiting hat and Ron guided me around the sound on the way home. We made various turns and climbs and eventually he headed me towards Paine and Harvey. This can all be seen on the return track log linked below. Essentially what he did was set me up for the RNAV 34 approach at Arlington. Once we descended to 1,500' we broke out of the "clouds" and were clear to return home.

Some things that I learned, or more precisely was reminded of, were that is takes a lot of work and concentration to keep the airplane doing what you want it to without looking out the window. Like most things, I'm sure it gets easier with practice. Since it was setting up for an approach, Ron also had me slowing down. At the end we were down to 110 MPH. Ordinarily that is no big deal, but at least in my airplane, there is very little airflow in the cockpit below about 140 MPH so it was getting really toasty in there.

We headed back to Arlington at about 120 MPH. We were about 5 miles south and were going to about 5 miles northwest of the airport, so about 10 miles. I could have sped back up to normal cruise, but I would have then had to slow down and give the engine time to cool again so I just kept going.

Fortunately there wasn't too much traffic and it wasn't bad getting back in. When landing on runway 34, I usually come in a little high because I am going to land long to get gas. With Ron with me, and him having another appointment that afternoon, I was going to pass gas, I mean on gas, and go back to the hangar.

I turned base about where I usually do and was pretty high for a normal landing, but just fine for landing long. Ron mentioned that he would be really impressed if I was able to pull off the landing being that high. I replied that yes, I am high, but it will be ok. With the contestant speed prop up front, it will come down very quickly when I pull the power off. The trick is to remember to feed it back in to arrest the descent rate before arriving at the runway. I did it just about right and ended up with a good landing. I still ended up rolling to the second turn off, but no one has to know that wasn't the original plan.

The video linked below is only for the Arlington to Jefferson County leg. After lunch, with all the preparations for the review and getting someone else in the airplane, I forgot to turn on the wing camera. It's a shame, because it was a pretty good landing. At least I do have an eyewitness. There is also video evidence from the roll bar cam. I thought of using it at the end of Saturday's video because that landing wasn't nearly as good. Unfortunately, Friday we were landing on Runway 324, but Saturday I used 16 and I felt someone may have noticed the discrepancy.

The outbound track log can be seen here.

The return track log can be seen here.

The video can be seen here.

Saturday I was on my own since Carl still had his airplane issue. Just like yesterday, it was very slow to clear at the coast and I wasn't too excited about going to Chehalis, so I planned to go to Hoquiam, then down the coast to Astoria and back.

Once again, reality diverged a bit from the plan. I took off about 11:00 and headed to Hoquiam. Just south of Whidbey Island and across from Pain Field there was a large cloud bank that had a rather unique feature. On the eastern edge of the cloud bank, which was far straighter than a cloud formation usually is, the cloud edge was, or at least looked, almost straight up and down. I decided to call it the cloud cliff, since that is what it looked like.

The cloud cliff.

As I headed southwest, the clouds were clinging to the base of the Olympics like, well, something that is very clingy. I flew closer to the mountains than usual for this trip in an effort to get some pictures and maybe some video that will do it justice. How well I succeeded, or didn't, can be seen in the video linked below.

Clouds sticking to the nooks and crannies of the mountains.
Looks very tranquil, and there must not be much wind.
Further down the range, the clouds stopped encroaching.
More interesting cloud formations.

Once I got past the mountains and was once again over lower, more level terrain, the cloud cover greatly increased. The cloud cover went as far as the eye could see. I knew from ForeFlight with my ADS-B in that it was clear at Astoria, but there were a lot of clouds between me and Astoria.

The main layer of clouds was high enough, 4,100', that I could have gotten underneath and into either Hoquiam or Westport, but at the time I saw no reason to do so.

I continued on until I was over the beach and once there I could see breaks in the clouds and some of the shoreline and open water further out. It would obviously clear up in the next hour or two, but I didn't want to wait and I didn't want to fly over all those clouds to Astoria so I turned home over Grayland Intergalactic.

Parts of the beach can be seen through breaks in the clouds.

There was a noticeable head wind heading out. My ground speed was usually around 168 MPH, but I made up for it on the way home with ground speeds around 215 MPH.

The trip home was pleasant and I was surprised to see that there were very few people at Arlington and, even better, there was no one at the gas pumps when I got there.

As mentioned earlier, the landing was not as good as I would have liked, but it wasn't really all that bad.

The track log can be seen here.

The video can be seen here.

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