RV-8 and the Son of Cap Cam
Friday 2/24/23 was severe clear here in the Northwet. We had just come off a week of wild, windy, blustery weather and cold temperatures, but Friday was forecast, and for once actually was, clear and mostly calm, though still quite cold, at least for these parts. Overnight lows were int he low twenties with daytime highs in the low thirties.
Not wanting to let this go to waste, especially since later in the weekend we are supposedly in for more cold and possibly snow, I begged for, and received the okey dokey to take the day off. Since the winds aloft looked to be pretty tame and the ground winds most places around here looked good, and we hadn't been there in a while, we decided to go to Forks. After all, it was supposed to be a couple of degrees warmer at the coast. In fact, it turned out to be about 38 degrees when we got there.
Since it was so cold I wanted to get to the airport as early as I could to get some BTUs flowing in the hangar. The most important is the heater that I use to preheat the engine compartment. It is nothing fancy, but after being on for a couple of hours will raise the engine compartment temperature to between 60-80 degrees, depending on the starting temperature and how long it is left on. I also have a moving blanket on top of the cowl with cowl plugs installed to try to preserve as much heat under the cowl as possible.
I pushed the airplane out about 11:30, a little earlier than usual. It felt good to have the sun shining on me. If you could find a place with no wind, it was pretty warm in the sun.
The wind at Arlington at that moment was pretty calm. When I first checked after engine start they were calling it "variable at 3". By the time I taxied and when I got to the runup area they were calling it "calm". Based on that, I could not for the life of me understand why people were using runway 16. Runway 34 is the designated no wind runway, with "no wind" being defined as less than 5 knots. I had considered getting on the radio and asking why people were using that runway. I decided that that would do no good, so I decided to just take off on 29. Mostly because I didn't want to taxi all the way to the other end of the airport if I didn't have to.
There were at least 3 other airplanes in the pattern with 2 more in the runway 16 runup area. I was curious to see if anyone would notice me and ask what my intentions were. If anyone saw me there, they didn't say anything.
I didn't say anything either until I was ready to go and taxied up to the runway. At that time I announced that I was departing 29 and would stay below the downwind traffic, though I didn't see any.
The takeoff was uneventful and I got out a few minutes before Carl. I stayed low until west of I-5 then turned a little to the south. I wanted to try to get some pictures of the construction going on near my house. They are building just a ridiculous number of houses in a very small amount of land, but hey, at least it is right up against the train tracks.
It was much bumpier at about 2,000' than I would have expected. The winds on the ground were very light and the higher level winds were pretty calm as well, but it ended up being fairly bumpy until I got above about 4,000' or so. In spite of all that, I did manage to get a shot or two of the area I was interested in.
Once I got the shots I did I headed to the west. There were more clouds around the Olympics than I would have thought there would be. It wasn't bad and they weren't in the way. In fact, they were kind of pretty and can be seen in the video linked below.
Since it was only starting to smooth out at 4,000', I decided to go up to 6,500'. It was pretty smooth there, and I was clear of the clouds, so it was good. I wanted to stay lower for warmer air, but this wasn't too bad. It was about 23 degrees out. With the sun shining through the canopy I was pretty warm, except for my feet of course. My oil temperature was about 166 degrees and the cylinders were at least above 300 degrees. I prefer oil temperature to be closer to 180 degrees, but on a cold day, this wasn't bad.
I didn't know it at the time, but my main camera, mounted under my left wing, stopped recording before I even took off. It recorded for about 10 or so minutes and then just quit. That happens more often when it is cold, so I was somewhat expecting it (fortunately, it worked flawlessly on the return trip. Go figure.). Since I wanted to try out another version of the Cap Cam on this flight, the outbound trip wasn't a total loss. That is why the video linked below starts out with a combination of auxiliary and Cap Cam footage. I included two versions of the landing at Forks because I am not sure which one I prefer. What do you think?
I call this "Son of Cap Cam" (see photo above, and below) because I used a similar set up several years ago. This is simply a GoPro Hero 8 mounted on a clip that goes on the bill of any hat. It fits pretty well, but sits a little higher than I would care for, but the results aren't too bad.
Carl passed me shortly before we got to Forks, so he was the one to fly over the airport to check the wind sock. There is no weather reporting at Forks and though there is at Quilayute which is only a few miles away, the weather, and particularly the wind are often quite different. In this case, it was much as forecast and the wind was very light, but slightly favored runway 4, so that is what we planned to use.
In looking at the wind sock, Carl failed to notice the Elk that were on the north side of the runway. There is a fairly sizeable herd that lives in the area, but they don't seem to be too concerned about airplanes. Of course, I can't really say anything since I didn't see them until Carl pointed them out as we were walking to the restaurant. It was pretty funny though, about half of them were grazing, but the other half were laying down in the shade. In the shade! Did I mention it was about 38 degrees there? By the way, as we departed they had moved a little closer to the runway, but Carl said that as he took off, they didn't even look up.
I was a bit high on final and wondered if I would be able to pull it off or would have to go around and try again. I pulled the power almost all the way off to get down to the runway. Fortunately, I remembered to bring a little power back in to arrest the descent rate and pulled of a rather respectable landing. Not one of my best, but certainly far from the worst.
Once again, lunch was good. The parking lot seemed to have a lot of cars, but when we got inside there were lots of tables free. As we walked up, I saw a lot of cars pulling out. We got there at about the sweet spot. There were quite a few people that came in after us, but both of us were surprised at how quickly our food got there after we ordered. If you're ever in the area, make sure to stop into Blakeslee Bar and Grill.
On the way home we wanted to go out to the coast and then to Neah bay before going down the strait.
The trip home was pretty uneventful and quite pleasant. As we neared Port Angeles Carl formed up on my left wing and I had a good chance to check out Son of Cap Cam. There is footage included in the video below.
There were quite a few airplanes out and about, but not nearly as many as we have seen on other days. Based on the forecast, I was expecting the winds at home to be fairly light and close to runway heading. When I first listened in they were calling it 290 @ 9. There were several airplanes using runway 29, but landing there makes for a long taxi back and since I wanted gas made an even longer taxi for that. In addition, I really need the crosswind practice. For those reasons, I planned for 34 and announced such intentions.
Because of the routes we took back, Carl ended up a couple of miles behind me. As I was turning downwind, I heard a Cessna Citation X calling a 10 mile straight in. He asked if there was other traffic in the area (not an FAA recognized communication) and Carl said "lots". When I turned base they were still about 7 miles out and maybe 5 when I turned final. Carl was also able to get on the ground in front of him also.
Once clearing the runway I headed for the gas pumps. There was a guy who left a Cessna 150 sitting where Carl usually parks and there was a Spacewalker II in front of that, so Carl decided to bail on gas. There was an RV-7A in front of pump 3 that I usually use and I was about to turn around and put the airplane away when I saw the RV-7A guy get in the airplane, so I waited for him to move. He was pretty considerate and moved out of the way as soon as he could. I pulled up and took my customary position.
By this time, the Citation had cleared the end of the runway and was headed down the taxiway. A year or two ago, the city painted a couple of large airplane boxes on the main ramp (lots of room). I was thinking that he was going there. Once again, I thought wrong. He started to taxi right at me. I had my hand on the ignition switch thinking that I might need to get out there to avoid being blown away. Fortunately, he turned the other way and blasted the C-172 sitting at the end of the apron instead. I really didn't get that. He was blocking almost the whole pump area, except where I was. They don't have Jet A at the pumps, they have it in a truck. The truck could just as easily have gone down to the main ramp.
This is why I hate having AFS as the only fuel vendor on the airport. First, their setup is clumsy and all three pumps can be, and often are, blocked by one inconsiderate aircraft operator. That and though they don't have the ramp space, they always want to have large aircraft on their ramp, with no thought for anyone else.
Anyway, the bottom line was that it was a nice flight, fun was had by all, and it sure beat being at work.
Outbound track log is here.
Return flight log is here.
Video is here.