Sunday, June 22, 2008

Flightseeing Anyone?

Yesterday was a fun day. I was supposed to take a group of people up flying in our 206, so I went down to the airport around 7:30am and did my preflight inspection, making sure the airplane was in fly-able condition. Everything looked great, except when I turned on the switch to get electricity, nothing happened! So, I had to call and cancel the flight with my passengers, but they wanted to come by and see the airplane anyway. So, as they were looking, I was explaining a little of what was wrong with the airplane, and mentioned that we had just put our 172 back together after doing some engine work on a sick engine. Naturally, they asked if they could go in that one instead, and I explained that the 172 could only hold 3 people max., including me. (Now, you have to understand what's going on in my head. Flying the 206 is like driving a Hummer, it's got a huge engine, off roading tires, and can out perform a lot of other airplanes. Not to mention it just looks and sounds cool! The thing is just begging to go land on the side of a mountain and get all muddy. Now these passengers were asking me, "Hey, can we take the VW Bug instead?" I'm thinking, "No way, that's a sissy airplane, a stamp on the side of the airplane reads, 'For Beginner Pilots Only,' and, 'Your grandma could fly this airplane with her eyes closed!'")

Now that we have that straight, I'll get back to the story....

So, I had to weigh all that in the back of my head along with the fact that I really like to fly. So I said sure, let's go. We ended up skipping the nice brunch in the Gorge and droned on full steam ahead towards Mt. St. Helens for a scenic view of death and destruction (but don't worry, people are fascinated by it). All in all, it was a fun time, and I always love interacting and chatting with the passengers. The flight lasted about an hour and then we went out to a nice brunch in Vancouver instead. After that, Joy and I came home and hit the sack for a little after brunch snooze. Then we got up and decided to go up to Bellingham and see Joy's new niece (born a couple nights ago now). With a quick check of the weather, and a flight plan on file, we were cruising north in no time. Joy actually flew for almost the first hour up there, while I got weather updates, and communicated with Seattle Center (a radar facility that keeps track of airplanes so they don't run into each other). We made good time, as we were blessed with strong tailwinds from the southeast (about 40 knots). We stayed for dinner and then headed back to Vancouver. Coming back took a little longer than our flight up there though, as those nice 40 knot tailwinds turned into headwinds. With a groundspeed of 70 knots, we were doing a little better than cars on the freeway, but not much!

Anyway, we had a good time, and I logged away over 5 hours of flight time.

The first picture shows "lenticular" clouds over the Olympic Range, indicating very strong turbulence (the kind you don't want to fly into). That kind of turbulence is not when you're on United and the captain says, "Well folks, sorry for the inconvenience, but due to the turbulence, I've asked our flight attendants to please take their seats." It's more like, "Dear God, please help the wings of this vessel to stay in their proper place."

The second picture is Joy holding her new niece.

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