• Steve

RV-8 and the "Hey, I didn't know I was going to fly today" Flight

Saturday 6/12/21 turned out to be better than expected. I hadn't been planning on flying at all. All week the forecast had been calling for rain and general yuckiness. Friday night, however, things changed and it looked like it would be much better than expected. And it was.


It was still very cloudy, but the clouds were pretty high (usually right at the altitudes I wanted to cruise, in fact). It was pretty windy and pretty bumpy, but all in all, pretty good for a day I didn't think I would get to fly at all.


First, a trailer for a minor motion picture coming never to a theater nowhere.


It didn't look like it would be a good day for a trip out to Forks as the winds aloft were out of the South, Southeast and would probably make it quite bumpy on the North side of the Olympics. Also, the wind at the ground at Forks looked to be a little contrary as well, they were predicting about 180 at 8-15, which is pretty close to 90 degrees to the runway. Doable, but with the hills and trees around the runway, it likely wouldn't be a lot of fun.


Chehalis was calling for winds more or less down the runway at 15 knots or less. Definitely an easier time.


We took off from Arlington just after noon. As I was climbing out, I noticed a glider practicing a rope break with an early turn back to the runway.


The clouds were, as previously mentioned, right about 4,500' which is where I wanted to be. For the first leg, to Bremerton, we are constrained by the Seattle Class B and have to stay below 5,000' in the area we usually go. Under the clouds is very bumpy, so I climbed to 6,500' and skirted around the north face of the Class B.


Turning south and climbing to 7,500' near Bremerton I could see a lot of clouds further south that appeared to be at about my altitude. There was a pretty stiff head wind as I only had a ground speed around 150 MPH.


As I neared Olympia, I had to make a choice; stay at this altitude and hope there is a hole near the airport or descend now and go the last 35ish miles under the clouds and get beat around.


I chose to descend, and got beat around, though not as bad as I thought, at least until I got below about 3,000'.


About 5 minutes out from Chehalis I listened to the AWOS which was calling the wind 160 at 9-18. Right down the runway is good, but I was hoping not to get one of those 18 knot gusts just as I touched down. As I got closer and could see the wind sock, the wind was more like 180-190, but it appeared steady with little gust activity. I managed to make a better landing than I have in a while, so called it good.


There was a jet parked in the transient area and when I saw it I really hoped that it wouldn't be leaving at the same time we did. I didn't want to be stuck taxiing behind it or using the runway right after it. Guess what? Yep, it left the same time we did. Sigh.


We made it out with no difficulties, but the cloud bases were even higher so we had to go to 8,500' to clear them now.


We headed west to Gray's Harbor and then headed home. Between Hoquiam and the Hood Canal we played a round a little, trying to see how well I could keep Carl in the camera lens.

The good news is that head wind had now turned tail and was helping us. I had a ground speed around 220 MPH. That's much better.


About halfway up the Hood Canal I had another failure of the primary camera. It kept recording, kinda. The video image was stuck on one frame, but the audio continued normally. This has happened before and I don't know what causes it, but it is annoying.


About 10 minutes out from Arlington I listened to the AWOS which called the winds "variable at 6". Listening to CTAF, everyone appeared to be using 29. A few minutes later they were calling it 280 at 4. I decided to use 34 thinking the wind wouldn't be too much of a factor. The last report I heard was 290 at 6. OK, here we go. Once again, I made a better landing than I have in a while.


Video is here.


Outbound track log is here.


Homeward track log is here.


For a day that I didn't expect to be able to fly, it was a very nice day.

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