My goal for this summer was to take the family camping. Naturally, fly-in camping would be ideal. I scouted out what looked like a fantastic destination: Nehalem Bay State Park on the Oregon coast. The runway is in good shape, there are 6 camping spots right next to where you park your plane, and you can walk to the beach. Does it get any better than that?
We took off on a lovely Friday afternoon in June and departed the Bay Area.
Our flight took us along the Pacific coast for a little over 3 hours. It was gorgeous, albeit a little hot. 4WR doesn't have A/C! (...yet?)
Unfortunately, the coast didn't stay that clear the entire way to northern Oregon. At some point a thick layer of fog crept in. As we were nearing our destination, I started tuning the radio to the ATIS frequencies of various airports that we were overflying. Ceilings were down to 100 feet! Nehalem Bay has no instrument approaches, and I'm not instrument rated yet, but that's not even relevant with ceilings that low. The fog extended as far as the eye could see out over the ocean, but only about a half mile inland. The rest of the state was completely clear. Unfortunately, our destination was in that narrow strip along the coast that was totally socked in. When it became clear that the fog was there to stay, we decided to pick another destination. We diverted to Portland!
Landing at PDX was fun. The tower let me cut in front of a 737 on 10 mile final, which made the pilot of said jet a little uneasy. He asked about my location several times. The tower reassured him that I'd be well out of his way before he arrived. I did them a favor and flew a short approach and turned off the runway immediately.
I've spent my fair share of time in Oregon, but almost none in Portland. So it was fun to explore the city.
Overrated, in my Bob's-biased opinion
We lucked into the annual Rose Festival and Parade. There was lots of fun stuff going on downtown.
We met up with some Bay Area friends who recently relocated to Portland.
And I got to meet this guy at the Rose Garden.
When it was time to head home, we turned east after takeoff from PDX and flew down the gorge and out to Mt. Hood. We circled the mountain at 9,500' before turning south and back to the Bay. 4WR got us home in about 3 hours. What a time machine!
It didn't work out exactly how we'd intended, but we had a great time regardless. I'm still hoping to get some summer camping in, but it will have to wait for a less foggy day. We absolutely loved Portland and we hope to visit again soon.
I'm ashamed to admit this, but I went almost a full year owning N4WR without giving him a full bath. I'd washed the windows numerous times and done some spot cleaning, but I'd never taxied over to the wash rack and hosed him down.
In my defense, and to the previous owner's credit, 4WR was shiny and spotless when I picked him up in Indiana last year. Then, during the fall and winter months, flying in the rain kept him pretty clean. And the unfortunate fact that he sits out in the rain dissuaded me from washing him. However, when the rains slowed this summer, the dirt started to build up quickly. It was time for a wash.
So I taxied over to the wash rack, which is right next to the tower at PAO.
And I gave 4WR a thorough scrubbing. It was a dirty, difficult job that took me nearly 3 hours. An older German gentleman brought his Cessna 172 over, washed it, and left, in the meantime. But the results were worth it: clean and shiny!
After I finished, Sophie, Max, and the Haines family stopped by to inspect my work.
Micah and I went for a short joyride around the South Bay. It sure felt great to fly such a clean airplane. I'm pretty sure it flew a few knots faster, too.
I picked them both up in Santa Clara after work, and we headed to
KPAO for a fun trip in N4WR.
We started with a Bay Tour, flying directly over the city, around Alcatraz,
and along the Golden Gate Bridge before heading south along the coast
with the setting sun to our right. It was lovely.
It was a fun trip, and I was reminded how fortunate I am to be able to live and fly
in such a beautiful place. I mounted the GoPro further out on the wing this time for a different
perspective. Here is the video of the flight:
After scrubbing my last
attempt to fly to Half Moon Bay, I decided to make another go at it. The goal
was to practice a few landings without the use of flaps, and to try mounting my
GoPro camera out on the wing. Previously I had only mounted it on a window inside
the cockpit during flight.
It was a clear, gorgeous day in the Bay Area. However, it was quite windy out on
the coast. At the time of my flight, winds at
Half Moon Bay Airport (KHAF) were
reported to be from 360 degrees at 17 knots, gusting to 22 knots (that's 20 to 25 miles per hour).
The runway there is at 302 degrees, so it was a 60 degrees crosswind,
which increases the degree of difficulty factor substantially.
Many pilots choose not to use flaps during landing in a strong crosswind, so
I considered the conditions to be a very realistic training scenario.
I was a little worried about the GoPro out on my wing. I have read numerous reports
from other pilots (PIREPs) who have used the suction mount on the outside of aircraft
with much success. One pilot even claimed that he's mounted his GoPro on the floats
of a seaplane many times, and even the splashing water during landing has never affected
it. My only firsthand experience had come when I used the suction mount on the
outside of my car and
filmed my commute. So I knew that it could withstand 85 mph wind. But could it hold
up to 200 mph wind out on the wing? I did some more research and
ended up watching an EAA video on the topic.
They provided a lot of good ideas based on years of experience, but their principal suggestion
boiled down to using clamp mounts on carefully selected parts of the airframe and then
wrapping the entire mount assembly in a ton of
gaffer tape. So for my first test, I decided to use the suction mount and
reinforce it with gaffer tape. After making the flight, my impression is that the
tape is probably overkill. That suction mount is pretty sturdy, even in 200 mph
wind. However, there is very little downside to using the tape, so I will continue
to do so. Nobody wants FOD!
You might notice that the camera moves slightly during takeoff. I had tightened
the screw that attaches the camera to the mount and allows the camera to rotate
on one axis, but apparently it slipped a little. The mount itself, however, did
The flight went great, aside from that wind coming in from the ocean, which made it quite bumpy
going over the hills. Once I got to HAF it was time to practice landing without
flaps. Flaps decrease the stall speed of my Bonanza from 64 knots to 52 knots, so
with flaps down you can come in significantly slower. Since I'm accustomed to that
slower approach, I had to adjust to the extra speed. On my first approach to land,
I overshot final a bit. The second attempt went much more smoothly. I was planning
on doing two or three stop-and-go landings. That means I would come to a full stop on the runway,
go through my normal "after landing" routine followed by the "before takeoff" routine,
and then go full throttle and take off again. However, during my first landing
I was followed closely by a Cessna, so I exited the runway as quickly as possible
to allow him to land. After my second landing I did a stop-and-go, and shortly
after takeoff another pilot on the ground came on the radio to advise me that
stop-and-gos are not permitted at HAF due to noise abatement. After consulting
Airport/Facility Directory, I found out he was right. Whoops! I apologize
for the extra noise, fair residents of Half Moon Bay.