RV-8 and the New Year's Richland Run
Updated: Jan 21
Friday 1/20/23 was too nice a day to spend at work. Particularly since there was yet another storm system coming in for the weekend it would have been my only opportunity to fly. After a short round of "where do you want to go?", we easily settled on Richland. There are relatively few days a year where the weather conditions are ideal for a trip across the Cascades (not too cold, too hot, too windy, etc.). The other determining factor was that the restaurant at the airport, Anne's Best Creole and Soul Food, was open. They aren't open on weekends any more. They have a food truck that they run along with the restaurant and have it going when the restaurant isn't open.
We were both ready to go at the same time and met up in the run up area. As we were ready to leave, an Army Black Hawk helicopter was making an instrument approach to runway 34. Not too long ago, that would not have given me much pause, but there have been recent incidents of small airplanes meeting the wake of large helicopters and it doesn't go well for the small airplane. Like this. Or this. Because of that, I didn't want to try to take off after the helicopter passed and there wasn't enough room to go in front of it. We ended up crossing 34 and taking off on 29 to avoid the helicopter. After a moment's thought I really didn't even want to risk taxiing across the runway behind the helicopter.
Once airborne, setting the initial course is easy, just aim for Mt. Stuart. While we were still climbing to our cruising altitude of 9,500', I saw an airplane doing aerobatics right on our course line. Nothing wrong with that, and it should have been a simple matter to alter our course to give him plenty of room, but it was difficult figuring out which direction he was going. When I first saw him, he was heading north, so I deviated to the south. Then he ended up going south, so I headed more north. We ended up passing close enough to be able to see that it was a Decathlon, yellow, with blue stripes. As we passed his position, he seemed to see us and leveled out long enough for us to pass.
From there, it was a pretty uneventful trip. I was a little worried about being cold and though the outside air temperature (OAT) was in the upper twenties, I was comfortable and I had oil temperatures in the upper 170's. Not bad for a cold day.
One interesting thing about this trip, and similar ones, is that we end up crossing the Columbia River a bunch of times as it weaves its way through Eastern Washington.
As we got to Richland, there was more traffic than we usually see. As Carl was in front, he got there first. There was a 172 in front of him doing touch-and-goes. As he approached, another 172 was to the west. That one ended up going behind Carl. I think he may have been a little intimidated by the traffic. He headed back into the pattern as I approached, and I wanted to give him plenty of room, so I turned out to the north to give him more room.
It all worked out, except that I ended up flying a much larger pattern than I would have liked. There is something about the runway at Richland and I just can't seem to make a decent landing there and this day was no different. It wasn't particularly bad, just not as good as I managed last weekend.
Upon landing, I learned that once again the cursed GoPro had stopped recording before I even took off. So all of the scenery that passed on the way over wasn't recorded. That is the reason why the video only shows the return flight.
Carl had called before we left to make sure the restaurant was open, and they said they close at 1:45 (the sign on the door says they close at 2:00). We got there about 1:00 so were OK, but as we got there, there were quite a few people placing orders in front of us. About 1:45, the last people in hadn't even gotten their food yet, they locked the front door. They told us to take our time and we could get out through the other door.
We headed out about 2:30 and took a route home that took us over Moses Lake. It's interesting to fly over and see how many airplanes Boeing still has parked there undelivered. It's a lot. Not as many as a year ago or so, but still a lot.
Most of the rest of the trip was uneventful. Flying over the mountains can be a little nerve wracking since there are precious few places to put down if something goes wrong. In this case, there is about a 20 minute stretch where there is really nothing. I just fervently hope that if anything is going to go wrong, it doesn't happen during those 20 minutes. It is easier to accept the risk because even the "safer" areas on both sides of the mountains also don't have very many good options for an emergency landing.
Even after all these years, the leading cause of incidents and accidents is engine failure and the most common cause of engine failure is fuel mismanagement (fuel exhaustion or fuel starvation), which means either not having gas in the airplane, or not feeding from a tank with gas in it. The best way to avoid these is to make sure you have enough fuel to reach your destination, or at least to get a place where you can get more, and to make sure the tank you are feeding from actually contains fuel. It sounds like a simple thing, but it catches a lot of people each year. Other than that, it is matter of meticulous maintenance and not letting things go to where they can cause a problem.
As I said, the trip back was uneventful, until I neared the airport, hoping to land. There had been a guy in a Cirrus shooting touch-and-goes for quite a while. As I was on the 45, he was just turning crosswind. I thought it was likely that someone was getting transition training and I didn't want to tangle with that, so I said I would go behind him. I turned out to the north to create some space and then entered an extended downwind for 34.
While he was flying a wider pattern than I would, it wasn't too bad, so I flew my normal pattern. As I turned base to final, relatively close to the runway, a guy in a blue Titan Tornado looking Light Sport pulled onto the runway in front of me. It was much closer than it appears in the video. For those of you who have already gone there, yes, I did make all of my radio calls throughout the pattern. I called that I was on short final, but now going around. No response. Ordinarily, I would have just turned an early crosswind behind him and came around and landed, but that Cirrus was still out there and doing so would have created a conflict with him.
I stayed to the outside of the blue thing and tried to contact him on cross wind to see if I could go in front of him. No response. I tried again on down wind and again, no response. He was making radio calls, but maybe he can't hear (or isn't listening). Since he pulled in front of me on short final, he doesn't appear to be looking, so I don't want to just go in front of him without some acknowledgment that he knows I'm there, so I continue to fly a pattern outside of him to keep him in sight the whole time. That's why I am flying the 747 pattern over the Target.
I did make it on the second attempt and managed to pull off a good landing to make up for the one at Richland. So, all in all, a good day.
The video is here.
The photos I took are here.
The outbound track log is here.
The return track log is here.