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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Last Weekend in October 2023

The last weekend in October 2023 was a very nice one. We had just finished almost a week of rain and were headed for another week of rain, but in between, we had several days of severe clear, mostly light light winds, and lower than normal temperatures. I wanted to make sure I took the best advantage of the conditions that I could.

Saturday, 10/28/23, I was once again on my own as Carl was still having issues with his airplane. I decided that I wanted to go to Hoquiam and check things out there and maybe do the Bird Walk. I hadn't landed there in a few years, though I had flown over a lot. There is a new building where the restaurant used to be. I knew immediately that it was not a new restaurant as it was too small, but I was curious as to what it was.

The trip down was fairly routine, until I got close to Hoquiam. One reason for going out there is that there usually aren't any other airplanes around. Not so today. I started to listen in about 25 miles away and there were already two airplanes in the pattern. One landed then departed, then there was another departing behind him. There was also a Cirrus coming in from the east only a couple of miles behind me and about the same speed or slightly faster. I didn't want to tangle with him (I'm not comfortable having someone behind me as I'm not sure they're going to see me, or even look for that matter) so I stayed to the north of the airport and made a big circle to come back up the channel and enter the pattern on a 45 after the Cirrus had landed. As it turned out, I was there for a little over an hour and a half and the Cirrus was still shooting touch-and-goes when I left.

I managed to make a pretty good landing and taxied up to my usual parking spot. Well, actually, it was Carl's usual parking spot, my usual parking spot had a camper in it.

Parked in the usual spot with the new building in the background.
You're in my spot.

Once I got out and got the airplane secured, I wanted to find out what the new building was, so that was my first stop. Over the summer, I had seen firefighting helicopters parked in that general area and I wondered if maybe that was where the they were storing equipment to support the firefighting. There is no sign on the side of the building facing where I parked or facing the airport. By the time I got to the east end of the building, the suspense was building. Once I got there, there was a little bit of a surprise, the building belonged to the Life Flight Network. I suppose I should have been curious that I didn't see any helicopters there. More on that later.

Life Flight Network building.

Once my curiosity was satisfied, it was time to go for a little walk. There were a lot of people there, but it appeared that many of them were leaving, so I was hopeful. There is a link to a gallery of pictures at the end of today's story.

I had thought about stopping by the grocery store and getting a sandwich to bring with me since there is no place on or near the airport to get food. Unfortunately, thinking about it was all I did, so I didn't have anything with me. I dug into my emergency supply of protein bars and had a couple of those on the walk. I didn't shoot any video of the walk, but I did take some stills.

What I call the "Bird Walk" is officially the Sandpiper Trail.

Even though there are signs all over the place saying no dogs, I ran into a group of people with a bunch of dogs, a German Shepherd, a Husky, and a Husky puppy. The two adult dogs were on leashes, but the puppy wasn't. They weren't really a problem, but the shepherd liked to bark at people walking by (me). At least the puppy was cute.

When I got about half way through the trail, I heard a helicopter approaching the airport. Oh No. I had no idea where it was going to land and I feared it would land very close to where I had parked and I was a bit nervous, so I turned around and high tailed it back to the ramp.

When I got about half way back, I heard the helicopter heading out again. I felt some relief but didn't know how long it would be gone. I considered turning around again and finishing the walk, but I didn't want to deal with the guys with the dogs again, so I headed back.

As I got up to the last hangar I had a clear view of the Life Flight building and the trailer that was in my spot, but I couldn't see my airplane. I started to panic a bit as I thought I parked pretty close to the fence and that I should see the tail from here. I started to fear that the helicopter had started to land next to my airplane and it started rolling away, or worse, so they took off before I could get back.

As I got closer, I could see the tail of the airplane. I hadn't parked as close to the fence as I thought. Everything was OK. I wanted to use the bathroom in the pilot's lounge before I left so I walked up that way. Just as I was washing my hands, I heard the helicopter come back. It sounded like it was landing right on top of the building, so I ran outside, once again fearing the worst.

Once I got outside and got the door relocked, I saw that it was parking over by one of the fuel islands, on the complete opposite side of the building from where I parked. OK, no problem.

As I was getting the airplane ready to depart, the guys with the dogs walked by and wanted to admire the airplane. One mentioned that he was saving up to buy an airplane so he could get his license, so we talked for a few minutes.

Upon leaving, I had planned to fly over Ocean Shores, then Westport, then down the coast to Astoria and then home. As mentioned earlier, when I got to the end of the runway, the guy in the Cirrus was still shooting touch-and-goes. Once he was clear, I took off and headed west.

I flew over Ocean Shores and turned south, but when I got to about Willipa Bay I looked at the time and saw that it was a little later than I planned and decided to go over Willipa Harbor airport and then home.

After turning north(ish) from Willipa Harbor, I decided to detour over Elma. The airport there (4W8) was bought a few years ago and closed. The new owner is running a pot farm on the property and probably making more money than anyone who operated it as an airport ever did.

From 5,500' I couldn't really see the runway or the Xs on it, so I descended a bit and flew right over it. From 2,500' it was still hard to make out the runway. It may have been torn up or just grown over with weeds. Too bad, it had been a nice little airport at one time, and even had a decent restaurant there once.

The rest of the flight home was relatively uneventful, though I did see a sub coming back into Bangor. They weren't too far from the Hood Canal bridge and I thought about circling the area to see how they got past the bridge, but they were moving really slowly and it would have taken longer than I wanted to wait around, so I headed home.

The landing wasn't as good as the one I made at Hoquiam, but it was passable. I was quite surprised to see no one at AFS. Not just no airplanes at the pumps, but none in the area at all. Talk about good timing.

The outbound track log can be found here.

The return track log can be found here.

The other pictures can be found here.

The video can be found here.

Sunday 10/29/23 was almost the same as Saturday, but with a little less wind. Since next weekend looks pretty grim, I want to avail myself of another day of good weather. I don't have too long and can't go too far, but I feel like I could use some landing practice. I make some good landings, but I can't seem to be as consistent as I would like, so I would like to get some landing practice in, but I really hate tramping around in the pattern, so I do landing practice a little differently. I typically land at a number of airports that are in relative close proximity so I can get multiple landings in without taking too much time or just bouncing around in the pattern.

In this case, I decided to go to Skagit, Orcas Island, Jefferson County and then home. That gets me 4 landings and burns about 1.5 hours.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a Beaver shooting touch-and-goes at Arlington. He was doing the whole procedure without letting the tail contact the runway. That is how I used to do touch-and-goes in airplanes with a training wheel (Cessna 150 and RV-12), I would touch down on the mains and add a little power to be able to hold the nose off the ground while I raised the flaps and reset the trim, then put in the rest of the power and take off again. I wanted to give that a try in the RV-8, so I figured I would try that at Skagit since it is a long runway and usually not that busy. I should say, it didn't used to be busy, but the last few times I have been there it was pretty busy. This time was no different.

There were a couple of airplanes in the pattern as I flew up I-5, but they cleared before I got there. Due to the traffic, I went to the north of the airport and entered the pattern on a crosswind. There was a Cessna 210 in front of me who did much the same thing.

As the 210 was crossing over the runway there was a Cherokee about 8 miles to the east stating that he needed to get on the ground right away. The 210 made in before the Cherokee and I told him that I was on a crosswind and would yield to him.

As I got to the approach end of the runway I saw the Cherokee on final and only had to extend a little to let him go first. As I turned final, I saw him clearing the runway. I set up intending to do a touch-and-go without letting the tail down, but after touchdown, I didn't get power in fast enough and the tail came down, so it was more of a regular touch-and-go. I'll try again some other time. As I was departing, I heard the Cherokee taking the runway, so whatever was going on couldn't have been too serious.

As I was climbing out of Skagit, I headed for Orcas Island. I had considered going to Friday Harbor since the wind was out of the north and 34 at Friday Harbor is uphill while 34 at Orcas is down hill. I prefer not to land down hill, but there was a lot of traffic going in and out of Friday Harbor. I listened multiple times to the AWOS at Orcas and it kept saying "winds calm". There was no one else going in or out of Orcas, so I decided to land on 16, which is uphill.

I made the decision too late and was too high, so I had to circle around to lose altitude and I entered on an extended base for 16. On short final I appeared to be going too fast, but I had the airspeed right where it should be (classic sign of a tail wind). I rolled to the end of the runway, and as I turned around, I saw the wind sock and there was definitely a wind from the north. Not too much, but a noticeable amount. I spun around on the runway and took of on 34.

As I climbed out, I began to turn toward Whidbey Island. I usually go along the west shoreline of the island, staying out over the water to avoid flying right over the Navy base. I go above the class C so I don't have to talk to anyone, but I monitor the Whidbey Approach frequency to see if I get called out as traffic to someone else, kind of a reverse flight following. This time, there wasn't anyone in my area.

I started my descent and tuned in the Jefferson County (JeffCo) frequency. Once again, there were a number of airplanes in the area, but I was able to get in. There was another RV in front of me, but he flew a much tighter pattern.

As I was on final I could see that there was a bunch of construction equipment on the parallel taxiway. I couldn't tell, but it looked like it was closed (it was). After landing, I had to take the detour to get back to the end of the runway. I was behind Jerry's C-172.

There was a cabin Waco turning base and the 172 pulled right out in front of him. I waited for him to land, but wanted to take off pretty quickly so I could beat the 172 back to Arlington and not be stuck behind him. The Waco made a really nice landing and I took off as soon as he cleared.

The trip back was pretty nice and I had no real trouble catching and passing the 172. When I got close to Arlington, I tuned in the AWOS and they were calling it 260@6. Not bad at all. Naturally, most of the traffic wanted to use runway 29. Hey, anybody can land INTO the wind. I planned for 34 and announced such, but if necessary I would enter a downwind for 29 and then turn an early base and convert that to final for 34.

By the time I got close the wind was 290@9. Not bad, but enough to have to pay attention to. I find it interesting all the airplanes shooting touch-and-goes on 29 when there is a crosswind available for practice. I can understand it with students flying solo, but I never flew with an instructor that would let me take the easy way out when there was a more difficult option available.

Late in my training, I was shooting touch-and-goes with my instructor at Paine Field. This was back when 11/29 was a runway instead of a parking ramp. It was also longer back then. As we were making our last trip around the patch, the wind started to pick up from the northwest. The controller called up and asked if we want to do a left 270 and land on 29. While I was mulling over what to say, my instructor got on the radio and said "no thanks, we'll stay on 34 R. No easy route for me.

In this instance, the most challenging landing of the day (still not THAT challenging) was the best one of the day. Go figure.

Unlike yesterday, this time there were other airplanes at the pumps. There was a 172 doing a good job of blocking Carl's spot and a Glasair II (I think) in mine. The guy in the Glasair, who just happens to currently be in the condo hangar that we used to own, also owns the Glasair. Even more interestingly, that happens to be the very same Glasair that used to hang in the old Future of Flight Museum at Paine Field.

Hanging in the museum.
At the gas pumps.

After pulling away from the pump, he headed for the runway. Ephraim fired up his Glasair III and followed him down there. I kind of get the feeling they may be going for a first flight after a lot of years (I don't know how many).

As I taxied back to my hangar, I saw him take off on 29 and not long after Ephraim was following. As I put the airplane away, I saw them orbiting the field. They hadn't landed by the time I left, so I don't know exactly how it went, but it flew.

All in all, a pretty nice weekend.

The track log can be found here.

The video is here.

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