Deanie and I had made arrangements to travel up to Arlington, WA for the Northwest EAA Fly-In, but since Deanie doesn't like sitting in the plane for more than three hours at a time, I planned the trip in stages.
Last Wednesday, after work, we took off from Tehachapi (KTSP) at 5:30 PM and headed down to Bakersfield Municipal (L45) airport to fuel up, since Tehachapi seemed to be out of gas. By the time we fueled up, between the flight, taxiing, and the 105F temps on the ground, we took off with pretty high oil temps - over 230 F. I climbed slowly - 300 fpm at about 135 - 140 KIAS to keep air flowing over the cooler to keep the temps within limits, and it took about 25 minutes to reach our cruise altitude of 8500 ft. It was hazy and hot in the San Joaquin Valley as we flew northwest over Fresno, Sacramento and Beale AFB - we couldn't see the Sierras at all. But the oil temps stabilized at 215 F and it was smooth all the way up to Red Bluff. We landed there at around 8:30 PM, about 10 minutes after sunset (but well before dark) and taxied to Tim Andres' hangar, which he graciously loaned us for the night. Tim had also left us a truck to use to drive to the Day's Inn for the night. It's only 3 miles from the airport. Although the air conditioner could have been a bit stronger (it was 80 - 85F all night OAT), the room was comfortable and relatively reasonable at $70/night.
Summary - 2.5 hours in the plane.
Thursday morning we headed out to the airport, took off around 8:30 AM with an OAT of 80 F, and quickly climbed to 8500 ft. without having the oil temp get above 220F. Soon we were out of the central valley haze, cruising past Mt. Shasta (at 14K ft, towering 6000 ft above us 10 - 15 miles to our right). We turned left at Siskiyou and headed up to Medford, OR over some low hills, and then up the Willamette Valley. The visibility was at least 100 miles and we could see the line of volcanoes stretching north on our right. The coastal fog extended 50 miles inland from the coast, coming right to the edge of the Willamette. We were glad we weren't stuck with Tim S. and the others on the coast under the fog :-).
After passing Roseburg, OR and Eugene, OR, we started our descent into McMinnville, OR. It was just 2 hours from Red Bluff, and was a good place to stop for breakfast/lunch and to see the Evergreen Museum which houses the Spruce Goose. We landed around 10:30 AM, filled the tanks with gas, and parked the plane. After catching a shuttle bus over to the museum (free), we bought tickets (not cheap, but worth it) and went into the cafeteria at the Space Museum portion of the complex to eat. Suffice it to say that service (in the cafeteria) is not their strong suit, nor is vegetarian choices on the menu. After waiting 45 minutes to get a mediocre veggie burger and chicken salad sandwich, they attempted to placate us by giving us a free milkshake. At least we weren't in a rush.
We wandered through the space museum for an hour or so, looking at the rocket engines, lunar landers, and other space stuff. Then we headed over to the IMAX 3D theater to see "Legends of Flight", which was good, but turned out to be an advertisement for the 787, for the most part. Cool 3D effects, though, and not many (although some) technical errors.
After the movie, we went to the main event, which for us was the flight museum. The Spruce Goose fills the building, with all the other aircraft underneath it. Even after seeing the A380 at least year's OSH, the Spruce Goose is unimaginably huge, and even moreso when one realizes that it's made out of plywood. If you care a whit about airplanes, you HAVE to see this thing before you croak. They have great movies and exhibits about the construction and history of the thing, and you can go inside the fuselage and see the interior construction. Just amazing. It's a good museum even without the Spruce Goose, but the Spruce Goose is a once in a lifetime kind of thing.
Anyway, after the museum, around 4 PM, we headed back to the airport and took off, heading toward Bremerton, WA for the planned canard fly-out dinner at the airport diner at 6:30 PM. It's only a one hour flight from KMMV up to Bremerton, but we figured that we could sit around and read for a while before everyone else arrived. We flew low out of McMinnville for 20 miles or so until finding a hole in the clouds above which we could climb, and then went to 6500 ft. Bremerton was clear, so we knew we'd get back down. After a smooth 1 hour flight we landed in Bremerton, parked the plane and hung out in the terminal for an hour. Around 6:15 PM Brian and Andy Amendala landed in their Long-EZ, and we soon realized that Arlington was socked in and no-one else was coming. The four of us had a nice dinner at the diner, had fish and chips, salad and salmon, and around 8 PM headed out. We had made arrangements to stay with Joe Person for a few nights, and he suggested that we fly into Paine Field, which was closer to his home than Arlington.
We arrived around 8:30 PM after crossing the sound at 2000 ft. under a solid overcast (but with 30 mile visibility near some rain showers) and parked in the central transient area, right near 4 787's that were engineless and waiting for finishing to be shipped to customers. Along with a couple of 747-400's. Very cool. Joe arrived to pick us up about 12 seconds after we landed and he took us to his home. Also staying with them were Al and Michelle Fink from the LA area, who had driven up to Washington for personal and business reasons. Al and Michelle have a Varieze and Velocity, both of which Al is attempting to get into flying condition - both have flown before. We had a nice time sitting around and BS'ing for an hour or two, and then hit the sack.
Summary: 3.5 hours in three legs.
Friday morning we woke up around 8 AM, and we all went out to breakfast, meeting up with Mary Dowling - 1/2 of a couple that's building two COZY MKIV's along with Joe Person (who flies a Varieze). After breakfast, Joe dropped us off at the plane, took Michelle Fink in the back seat of his VE, and Al and Mary drove up to Arlington. Deanie and I followed Joe and Michelle out of Paine Field and did the standard, NOTAM'ed arrival into Arlington, following some slow C-172 and Bonanza :-). We both parked in the canard area, which was pretty sparse when we got there - only three or four canards parked.
During the course of the day, a few more arrived, and to my recollection, there were:
Joe Person Varieze Brian/Andy Amendala Long-EZ Joe Dubner Long-EZ Jim Price Long-EZ Tim Sullivan Long-EZ (finally!!!) Mike Zwijacz Long-EZ Tom Smith Long-EZ Tom Staggs Long-EZ Marc/Deanie Zeitlin COZY MKIV Jon Dembs/Tim Andres COZY MKIV
Burrall and Joyce Sanders had to stop at Wenatchee, WA and drive over the hills for the day due to weather, and Dale Martin drove in from Idaho as well..
We hung out and yakked with folks for a few hours, looked at the antique planes, visited the few vendors, and yakked some more, while examining other folks planes and answering the loooky-loos who wanted to know how the planes took off with their noses on the ground. I also met a few builders that were there (including John Wells, to whom I must apologize for forgetting to give a ride).
Around 6 PM, Joe packed up the Varieze, took a prospective Long-EZ owner in the back seat for a familiarization flight, and headed back to Paine Field. I took Michelle in the front seat of the COZY and Deanie drove back to Paine Field with Al and Mary. After leveling off at 3K ft, I asked Michelle (not a pilot) if she wanted to fly, and after asking if I were shi**ing her, she took the stick and was able to keep the blue up and green down as we took a tour of Whidbey Island over the sound. It was beautiful, and she did fine. We then landed at Paine Field, parked by the 787's, and all went out to dinner at a really nice Thai restaurant (Lanna Thai, if you're ever there) in Everett.
After dinner, more yakking at Joe's house and off to bed.
Summary: 0.5 hours in the plane with two different co-pilots.
We woke a bit earlier on Saturday - maybe 7:30 AM - and the five of us went out to breakfast. Joe's wife Nancy didn't join us for any of these meals as she's a nurse and was working 12 hour shifts on Friday and Saturday - maybe next time...
The Finks needed to get on the road to attend a family function in Salem, OR and left Joe's house around 10:30 AM. Joe offered to take us down to Boeing Field (driving), and show us the Museum of Flight. While there was a lot of overlap with the Evergreen Museum, there was also a LOT more stuff - Boeing history, different aircraft and exhibits, a SST one could walk through, a lot of WW1 and WW2 aircraft, Steve Fossett's Perlan I glider, and a lot more. We spent the whole afternoon there, wandering around with Joe, Mary and Mary's husband Tim and their son. Some space and rocket stuff, too. Around 4 PM we packed it in, having had enough of airplane museums for a few months, at least. We headed back to Joe's, packed up our stuff and headed out to Paine Field. We said goodbye to everyone and took off around 5 PM, heading 1 1/3 hours south to Independence, OR to stay with Joe Dubner for the evening.
The flight was uneventful - we climbed around the Seattle class B to the west, overflew Bremerton, and headed southeast at 9500 ft. The views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood were breathtaking, and we could see the coastline (sans fog) to the west.
Joe lives in an aircraft community right on 7S5 - Independence State Airport. He met us on his bicycle when we landed, and led us taxiing through the "streets" to his house at the end of a cul-de-sac, where we pulled straight into his hangar. Rough life, Joe. Joe's Long-EZ was in the hanger being prepped for a cross country trip to Albany, NY next week. Joe's also building an RV-8, which is well along and almost to the point where he'll have to shell out the big bucks for an engine and some instruments.
We settled in and took a 45 minute walk around the neighborhood, with Joe giving a tour of who's got what airplanes - apparently there are about 160 homes on the airport and almost that many aircraft. We stopped to talk to Gail Boyle, who (unbeknownst to me at the time) was the person who had published an article about my prop loss in an Oregon Flyers magazine. She pointed us to the Pink House Cafe for dinner, and so we headed over there around 8:30 PM. It was VERY good. After checking email, etc. in the evening, we hit the hay.
Summary - 1.3 hours in the plane.
We woke around 8 AM on Sunday morning, packed most of our stuff up, and went back to the Pink House Cafe for breakfast. It was just as good as the previous night's dinner. Joe gave us a bit of a tour of town, and then we headed back to the airport.
Around 11:30 AM we packed up the plane and took off, heading home. We climbed to 9500 ft. and headed back the way we came, down the Willamette Valley to Roseburg, Medford, Siskiyou, Mt. Shasta and Red Bluff. Until reaching the central valley, the visibility was great, the volcanoes in clear view, and the air smooth and calm. Near Mt. Shasta we climbed to 11.5K ft. to get over some clouds and into clearer air. Past Red Bluff, we decided to land at Nevada County Airpor (KGOO) near Grass Valley, CA to take a bathroom break and get a bit of gas, which was relatively cheap at $5.15/gal. We stayed for an hour or so, and around 3:30 PM we took off, climbed to 7500 ft. and headed south for the last 1 3/4 hours of the journey home to Tehachapi, over very familiar ground.
We got to KTSP around 5:30 PM, put the plane away, and then spent an hour shooting the breeze with Mike M., who informed us that the Catbird had flown for 6 hours over the weekend and was likely to be able to make it to OSH along with the Boomerang, although they still have a lot of time to fly off in the new Phase I period. Mike had checked out two other pilots in it, and the Boomerang has two pilots capable of bringing it to OSH.
A wonderful trip, allowed by a wonderful plane that makes long distance both available and affordable.
I can't thank Joe Person, Joe Dubner, and Tim Andres enough for putting us up, putting up with us, and loaning us their stuff (and time). We had a wonderful time, due in large part to the generosity and good nature of these folks (and everyone else we dealt with, ran in to, and talked to along the way).
Thanks again, and hope to see many of you at OSH in a few weeks.
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