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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Missed Museum Mission

Saturday 6/3/23 was one of the few nearly perfect days we get around here, the kind where it isn't raining, it isn't too cloudy, it isn't too cold, it isn't too hot, it isn't too windy, basically a Goldilocks day, and I didn't want to let it go to waste. After cogitating on all of the possibilities, we decided that going to McMinnville, Oregon to see the Evergreen Air and Space Museum again would be just the ticket.

It seemed like a good time to go since last weekend was a holiday weekend, hopefully there wouldn't be as many people out and about and it wouldn't be too crowded. It is generally at least 10 degrees hotter down there in the summer than up here, so I don't usually like to go in the summer. The days get to be too short in the winter, plus weather is an issue, so, once again, just the right time.

We hadn't been to the museum in a couple of years, but we have been there many times, so we didn't expect this visit to be any different. One of the main concerns I had was food. It is a longer than usual trip and there is really nothing at or near the airport, foodwise. Several years ago, there were two eating choices at the museum. There was a snack bar in the main museum and a full cafe, with hot food and all, in the space museum.

The cafe in the space museum closed not too long before the pandemic. They had been trying to reopen it even back then, but were having difficulty finding people to staff the cafe. The last time we were there, all they had were a couple of sandwiches in the main museum snack bar.

I contacted the museum to check on this point and was told they did indeed have food in the main museum. Carl found online that their menu had expanded a little. Mostly just sandwiches, but at least a few more choices. So, armed with this knowledge, we sallied forth.

The trip down was very nice indeed. It was smooth, cool and thoroughly pleasant. The winds aloft at 5,500' were relatively light, so it was mostly a sight seeing trip. All of the mountains were out, which makes for some nice scenery.

Mount Rainier
Mount St. Helens
Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt Adams

When we got to McMinnville, I was surprised to see that it was a lot busier than we were used to seeing in the past. There is a large helicopter training operation there, so there are always helicopters buzzing around. They also seem to do a lot of jet traffic these days. There were two jets on the ramp when we landed and as we were tying down, one of them left and another landed right behind it.

Once we had the airplanes secured, we went into the FBO office to get transportation to the museum. The guy from the FBO was busy with the jet that had just landed, so I called the museum myself. When I got through to the museum, I was told that they no longer offer a shuttle from the museum to the airport, which is right across the street by the way. They mentioned getting an Uber, but I don't Uber.

The guy from the FBO came back in, so we asked about a crew car and he told us the guys in the jet behind us reserved the last crew car. While it wasn't great news in the moment, it was good news over all in that they do take reservations for the crew car(s). A lot of places we visit don't, it's first come first served, often with a two hour limit on the car.

Since plan A wasn't going to work, plan B became to stop at Chehalis for lunch on the way home.

Getting out of McMinnville was easy enough, and at 8,500' it was nice a cool and mostly smooth, at least early on. As we crossed the Columbia River, again, we saw some cumulus clouds ahead of us and a little above our altitude. As expected, there were some good thermal bumps under that layer and we got beat around pretty good descending into Chehalis. The wind at the ground couldn't quite make up its mind what direction it wanted to blow, or at what velocity. The AWOS was calling it variable at 4, with peak gusts of 12 knots. That's a pretty big spread.

The biggest fear is hitting one of those 12 knot gusts just as the wheels are touching the ground, but in this case it all worked out and I pulled off a pretty nice landing.

We got to the restaurant around 3:00, which is later than we usually get there, and I was very surprised to see how full the parking lot was. There were more people in the restaurant than we usually see, but we had no trouble getting a table or getting food.

Thus fortified, we set out for the last leg that would take us home. It was the shortest leg and didn't take a long time, but we were bounced around pretty good the whole way.

We got lucky when we got home and there wasn't a lot of traffic, so we were able to get in pretty easily. This was probably my worst landing of the day, but it also presented the most challenging conditions of the day, so I will take it.

All in all, it was a truly nice trip and I am very glad we were able to take it, even if we didn't meet our primary mission objective of visiting the museum.

The outbound track log is here.

The Intermediate track log is here.

The homeward track log is here.

The video is here.

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