Tuesday 16th June, 2009 The weather didn't look very promising so this would be one of those 'try it and see' expeditions. The plan, to fly down the coast to Gold Beach via Cape Blanco and spending some time having a look around the town. We would then fly inland to Grants Pass, buy some parts for Tango Charlie from the Chief Aircraft shop and then onto George Felt Airfield near Roseburg. Camping was the selected form of accomodation (our first try with our newly formed camping survival kit), at least the temperatures were reasonable and there was no rain forecast! The next day we would fly into the mountains to see Crater Lake and some of the spectacular sights that the region has to offer. Anyway, that was the plan but the weather has not been playing ball recently and this trip looked severely compromised by it. Everyone has been saying that the weather this year has been unusual, the last few weeks have been pretty dull with a lot of moisture in the air resulting in low cloud along the entire Oregon coast. We waited at Florence for the early morning cloud to lift and decided to set to see if the weather was brighter further south. Florence tends to have a micro climate all of its own and you can never rule out that if things look bad there, it won't be any better 10 miles up or down the shoreline. As always over the Ocean the lower cloud was non-existant, there was a very healthy cloud base of over 12,000ft, however just over the shoreline the cloud was struggling to get above 1,000ft. On the 30 minute flight down to North Bend this was nearer 600ft but North Bend Airport was reporting 1,200ft so we decided to pop in there for a free coffee, some cookies, some fuel and some more internet weather information. Low level marine layer just south of Florence. Overhead and to the west the cloudbase was some 12,000ft and the Cascade Mountains to the east were clearly visible. Looking at the available METARs and TAFs around the area at the FBO it became clear that the marine layer covering the entire Oregon and North California coast was not affecting the airports 50 miles inland, the problem was getting there! I phoned up Gold Beach and was told that the cloud was at 800ft but holding steady with clearer skies to the west. We departed North Bend and headed south. We flew by the seaside town of Bandon (there is something in my Blog about a trip down there a few months ago), it looked gray and gloomy with not much going on. Seaside town of Bandon. Cape Blanco State Airport. Tango Charlie on the Cape Blanco State Airport apron. Cape Blanco State Airport (5S6) was our next stop, an infrequently used 'airport' (a runway, taxiway and three hangars) with a long and wide runway (5100 x 150 ft. / 1554 x 46 m). It is located a mile or so inland from the shoreline and surrounded by cranberry fields, not much in the way of habitation exists near to it and you have to wonder what purpose the airport serves. However, when you look at a map you can see that it does fill a 'hole' between Gold Beach and Bandon providing a much welcome bolt hole for pilots in case bad weather strikes, I'm sure it has its fair share of visitors during the winter and foggy summer days. After spending enough time to take some pictures we were airborne again and on our way to Gold Beach. One of the many Nature Reserve Islands to the south of Cape Blanco. Up until now we had been flying down a wide sandy coastline, slightly out to sea avoiding the low cloud shelf sitting slightly inland. However, the coastline south of Port Orford (just 6 miles south of Cape Blanco) suddenly becomes rocky with high cliffs and a large number of nature reserve islands sitting a mile or two offshore. We could literally see Gold Beach in the distance but for the next 25 miles we would be flying at the level of the cloud capped cliffs and a few miles out to sea, not ideal I prefer having a long sandy beach available...just in case. Gold Beach Municipal Airport (4S1) is located directly next to the beach and at the mouth of the great Rogue River, it has a reputation of being a windy, turbulent location for pilots but for us the winds remained calm. Unsuprisingly there was only one other aircraft visiting, an interesting Lake Buccaneer, apart from that the place was deserted. After securing Tango Charlie we walked into the FBO/Airport building to see who was around and successfully interrupted a group of people holding hands while reciting the Lords Prayer! We didn't see that one coming! Landing at Gold Beach Municipal Airport. We walked a short distance up to Highway 101, which runs along the coast and through the town, and tracked down the nicest coffee shop we could find to replan our next day or so. It was obvious that there was nothing for us at Gold Beach (to us it all looked a bit rundown and tired, although it may look better with the sun out!) and that there was no way we would be able to get to Grants Pass due to the 5,000ft+ mountains that are to the west of the town. Lake Buccaneer tied down at Gold Beach Municipal. Another gloomy, dull picture. Securing Tango Charlie before going to the local coffee bar to replan our trip. In the far background you can see some of the lower mountains being obscured by cloud, there was no way for us to make the trip across to Grants Pass. I love flying on the Oregon Coast but sometimes the weather can be a complete pain in the butt!