Sunday, February 17, 2008

Up, Up, and Away

The week has been a BUSY one, but it's the kind of busy I like. It's been full of flying, and very well rounded experience at that! In the past week, I've been able to get some cross-country time, unimproved airstrip evaluation/operation, takeoffs and landings, and night flying. I've also been able to work on my instrument flying skills a little bit too. It helps when the weather is nice and clear. On Saturday Joy, her mom, and I went to a small grass airstrip right along the Oregon coast, 100 yards from the beach. Having never been to the strip before, I was able to evaluate the runway from the air the way MAF often does at the airstrips they fly into. They use the acronym wind, LASSO, which means that before landing at each airstrip, the pilot will evaluate the wind conditions, the length of the airstrip, it's altitude, surface conditions, slope, and any obstructions during the approach and departure phases. This was good practice for me since I will be doing it for a long time. As I flew over the strip, I noted the wind direction and velocity, several obstructions on either end, and a soft/wet surface with a length of 2000 feet. Weighing all these factors helps the pilot to determine the safe outcome of the flight and whether or not it can be accomplished with the proper margins for safety. I determined that the landing (and subsequent takeoff) was within my limits as a pilot, and the aircraft limits, so we landed. We then proceeded to eat a picnic lunch on the beach. It was still about 50 degrees, and of course, it's always windy at the beach. But, for the middle of February, it was a much needed break from the endless drizzle here in the Pacific Northwest. After leaving our little picnic spot, we went for a short sightseeing tour of the Oregon coastline. Even though it was clear in many places, there were several spots where it was quite cloudy. Being in uncontrolled airspace, I could fly as close to the clouds as I wanted (without going in them, of course). Sunshine above the clouds provided a nice background for a few shots like this.

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