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  • Steve

RV-8 and the Tale of the Toasty Coastal Trip

Updated: Aug 11, 2022

Saturday 8/6/22 was another toasty day in the Northwest, but not nearly as bad as last weekend. It is still hotter than I care for, but was, mostly due to a nice breeze off the water, for the most part, bearable. I know, there are many places hotter than here that are hotter for much more of the year. That's why I don't live in those places, I don't like the hot. At least it wasn't hot enough to make me not want to fly.

Carl got to my hangar about the usual time and we started the pre-flight bull session, which always concludes with "where do you want to go?", "I don't know, where do you want to go?", although this time it was a little different and he asked "you weren't planning on going to Forks were you?" Well, actually, I was. So I asked, "uh, why not?" Turns out, the airport was closed all weekend for drag racing. They actually close the airport quite a bit for racing during the dry months, both of them. Usually it doesn't interfere with our plans, but this time it did.

Carl got this shot of the raciing at Forks on Sunday.

Carl suggested that we go to Astoria and get the crew car to go into town for lunch. I thought that was a good idea as I like Astoria. The only drawback was that there was a good bit of risk involved in that we weren't sure if there was really a car there or if it would be available. Since the times that either of us have been there it was dead, we figured there was a good chance we would be able to make it work.

We took off a little earlier than usual, about 11:30 and had a pretty uneventful trip down. Well, uneventful except for 2 events. The first being that my GoPro on the wing quit recording, for no apparent reason about 15ish minutes into the first and third legs of the trip. It is quite unaccountable as I had plenty of battery life left as well as plenty of room on the SD card. The other was that I appear to have, once again, forgotten how to land. The first landing was pretty horrible and, of course, there were lots of people around to see it. The second one was really quite good, but the last one was once again, a stinker.

On the trip down we started with an initial cruising altitude of 4,500', this is to stay below the floor of the Seattle Class B, until we get to Bremerton. From there we are free to climb and we went to 6,500'. As we got further south it began to get pretty bumpy so we climbed to 8,500'. It was much nicer there, but we waited a bit long to start down and had to do some maneuvering over the Columbia river to get down enough to enter the pattern. The good news is that there was no other traffic using the airport at that time.

As I passed over Bremerton, I looked down to watch the drag race in progress. The car on the left came off the line much faster than the other car, but at about the mid point of the track he went flying past the car on the left and won by several car lengths. Too bad I was too high up to see what kind of cars.

As mentioned earlier, I managed to pull off a truly horrible landing, but at least there were a lot of people around to see it. There was a line of cars, and a couple motorcycles, waiting on the taxiway to cross the runway. I had no idea what that line of vehicles was doing in and/or on the runway, but they weren't in my way so... On departure, it became apparent what they had been doing.

Once we got to the ramp we saw that the place was much busier than we expected. We ended up parked between a G550 and a Citation, with a 210 close by. There was also a Falcon Jet, or something like that, on the end that I think had a Mexican registration. It looked like the Gulfstream folks got there not too long before we did.

We went into the FBO to get an idea of the crew car situation and we met the guys from the Citation. They said that the car had recently been dispatched and they were next on the list. The airport limits users to 2 hours, so they would be back in an hour and a half, or so. They went on to say that they would need the car for at least an hour and a half as they had to drive to Seaside to pick up a passenger. It was already almost 1:00, so it didn't take too long to decide that we didn't want to hang out that long.

Someone said that he had tried calling an Uber and there wasn't one. Apparently, the only cab company in town only had a couple of cars and one wasn't available for a while and the other, a minivan, was coming to pick up the Gulfstream folks. With no ground transportation available in a reasonable time, we had to come up with a plan B real soon. I suggested going to Chehalis since it was more or less on the way home. This idea was met with approval.

We made a quick pit stop and then saddled back up for the relatively short flight to Chehalis. We took off just after 1:00. As we taxied south to the end of runway 32, we passed an old Twin Beech that has been sitting in the weeds there for as long as I have been going down there. It looks very sad. If I had Bill Gates' kind of money I would rescue it and return it to flight status, although there may be little reusable other than the data plate.

Abandoned and forlorn Twin Beech.

As I was climbing out, I looked down and to the right and saw a motorcycle training course in the northeast corner of what I think is an old, closed runway. That made sense, people going to take a motorcycle safety course and obviously the space they had available was by an old closed runway that the only way to get to was to cross an active runway. At least they waited until there was no one on the runway.

It was hot and bumpy climbing out of Astoria so we wanted to get to altitude as soon as possible. We went to 7,500' for the cool smooth air, but almost as soon as we got there it was time to start heading down and preparing to land at Chehalis.

As would be expected, it was getting rather bumpy as we got lower nearing Chehalis. It wasn't too bad, but wasn't too good either. Fortunately there was no traffic at the airport and we had it to ourselves, at least for a moment. On the plus side, I did make a pretty good landing this time.

On downwind Carl had noticed that the parking lot for the golf course was full. Once we got over there it was not only full, but there was overflow in the camper area. I was afraid that meant that they were having a private event and either the restaurant would be closed, or it would only be open for outside seating and it was just a little toastier than I was comfortable sitting outside in. Once we got there, however, there were only a few tables in use and we were able to sit wherever we wanted.

The waitress came over and remembered us and that we knew what we wanted, so she took our order right there. That was kind of nice.

Once finished with lunch we moseyed back to the airport for the leg home. We were a bit concerned about getting in as the last time we were there the gate seemed broken. We entered the correct code, several times, and it would not open. Fortunately there was someone around and he let us in. With no one around it would have been more difficult. We would have had to go around the side and go in through the pilot lounge. It's a nice pilot lounge, so that wouldn't be so bad, but it would be pretty far out of our way. We had left the gate propped open, hoping that no one would come by and close it while we were gone. It was still open, so no problem.

It was about 3:00 when we left, so it was quite warm and pretty bumpy as we climbed out. The trip home was relatively uneventful and we made back easily. The airport wasn't quite as dead as it had been last week, but it was still easy to get in. Of course, once again I botched the landing when I got there.

It was a long way to go to have lunch at Chehalis, but it was a fun day.

Video here.

Outbound track log here.

Intermediate track log here.

Homeward track log here.

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