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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Cloudy, and a Little Rainy, Chehalis Trip

Saturday 6/29/24 was a nice, but somewhat cloudy day here. There was a system moving through Saturday night and into Sunday so the ceilings were coming down throughout the afternoon, but it was good enough to get somewhere for lunch. There was rain coming, but it was supposed to be dry during the day, at least the early part.

When I first got to the airport, there was an odd looking airplane at the end of my hangar row and I was having a bit of difficulty figuring out what it was. I walked down to look at it and even getting a side look it was a little puzzling. It looked a bit like a DeHavilland Chipmunk, but also not.

It was a two seat, tandem low wing airplane and there was a guy in the back seat (not to be confused with Bax Seat). It sounded like either the guy in the back seat had just bought the airplane or was getting checked out in it. They appeared busy so I didn't want to interrupt. I walked back to the hangar and cheated by looking it up on the FAA web site. I was right, it is a DHC-1B-2 Chipmunk. It's obviously been heavily modified. Among other things, it has a Lycoming IO-540 in it with a three bladed prop. I was a little confused in that it had an airworthiness date of 1981. I was pretty sure that DHC had quit building them quite before that. I found a manufacture date of 1956 and it was certified in the Experimental Exhibition category.

I failed in my attempt to get pictures or a video of it taxiing by, but I did manage to catch it taking off.

I saw after it came back that it is housed in one of the hangars that used to belong to the guy (and I can't remember his name) who had the Fleet and the 108 Stinson. I think this is the hangar the Stinson was in.

The first time I had heard about a Super Chipmunk was the one that Art Scholl modified / built and flew in airshows for many years. A while back I found a brief documentary on him from 1968 on YouTube. I learned a lot about him from that and in there he also talks about how he modified his Chipmunk, starting at about 15:58.

I was swamped with stuff at work and needed to get home pretty early to get back to it, so I didn't want to go too far. The coast was out due to the aforementioned system coming in. I had thought about going up to Orcas Island, but with a big holiday a few days away, Carl thought it would be really busy, and he was probably right. I hated to admit it, but it looked like Chehalis was the best option once again. As it turned out, that was a very fortuitous turn of events.

The forecast called for the ceilings to be above 9,000' until at least mid afternoon with rain moving in after about 4:00ish. We should be home by then so it shouldn't be a problem. The trip down was rather uneventful. The ceilings were high enough to allow us to go where we wanted and the winds were light and it was pretty smooth.

As we neared Chehalis, I heard on the AWOS that the wind was variable at about 5. I had thought briefly about trying for a straight in to 16, but there was an airplane in the pattern for 34 and I heard at least one other, so I entered on a downwind for 34. Upon turning final and seeing the wind sock, it was a good thing I went that way as the wind appeared to be a bit hardier than what I had heard a few minutes earlier. I managed to make a pretty decent landing and there was no one in our parking spots, so all was right with the world.

We went over and had a nice lunch.

A few weeks ago when we were there I noticed that the replica Douglas World Cruiser was parked out in front of one of the hangars there. I called it out to Carl on the radio as we taxied out and someone came back asking if wanted to take a look at it. Since we were already strapped in and almost to the end of the runway for departure I said "no thanks, we saw a lot of it when it was at Arlington".

Douglas World Cruiser Replica at Arlington 2015.

After that flight, later that week, or possibly the next, I found a YouTube video of them running the engine on it. It was titled "The Last Roar of the Mighty Liberty V-12". I misunderstood what they were saying. I thought they were referring to the last, as in most recent, engine run, when in fact they were referring to the last ever time the engine would be run. I did manage to get some video of it landing back in 2016 at Arlington.

Last week it was still there, so we went to take some pictures of it and get a closer look. The whole gallery can be seen here.

The DWC as it sits today, well, OK, as it sat last weekend.

When we got there today, it was still there and there were people working on it. The cowling was off, the propeller was off and the sides of the fuselage were unlaced.

Cowling removed and many systems being removed also.

Fuselage sides opened up.

We decided to stop by after lunch once again and we were fortunate enough to meet the builder and his wife. We spent some time talking and he knows some people Carl knows and even some that I know.

We were hoping they were getting it ready for a season of flying, but alas, no. It is being readied for its final journey, this one by road. After determining that it would be completely impractical to recreate the around the world flight for the 100th anniversary this summer, he is donating the airplane to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. It will hang, on floats, in the main gallery.

They are going to take it apart and do a cosmetic refurbishment to make it look good in the museum, but along they way he has to remove every line, hose, tube and system that could possibly contain flammable or dangerous fluids, gases, or solids. It will look normal from the outside, but be gutted on the inside. Apparently, they do this with all their indoor displays.

There will be a small event to mark its induction and the 100th anniversary of the original around the world flight in September.

More information about the replica can be found here and more on the original can be found here.

Once again, due to my workload at home I needed to get going. It would have been easy to stay and talk to them all day and I told Carl he could stay if he wanted, but he left when I did. Maybe we will get to see them again before the airplane heads to Seattle.

The trip home was a little interesting. We noticed on the radar that there were some showers just to the west of Chehalis but as we took off we could see rain not just to the west, but pretty much right in our flight path. There was a good sized shower from a little south of Olympia until well past Tacoma Narrows. Fortunately the rain wasn't particularly heavy, but it was persistent. One nice thing that it did was wash the bugs off the windscreen that I smashed on the way down.

Visibility to the northwest was fairly poor but to the north I could see at least as far as Bremerton so I figured we would be OK. Once again I realize how spoiled I am living up here that if the visibility gets below 30 miles, I really take notice and get a little antsy.

We made it home in good time and the airport was even mostly empty when we got there.

The outbound track lot log here.

The return track log is here.

The video is here.

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