Flying in the Pacific Northwest
Trip Reports
Flying in the Pacific Northwest
After setting up camp at West Yellowstone Airport we had breakfast at the restaurant in the airport terminal, the Smokejumper Cafe, and arranged a hire car from Avis so that we could visit the Park....
We departed Nampa at the crack of dawn. Heavy showers were predicted over the West and South of Idaho during mid morning and temperatures were to climb to 90°F which created the threat of...
We wanted to depart Florence as soon as the sun started coming up over the mountains of the Coast Range, sea fog was moving in as we drove down to the airport and didn't want to risk being fogged in...
The weather on our 2nd day at Concrete was a bit disappointing with cloud cover over most of the Northern Cascades so we put off our scenic flight until the 3rd day which looked fractionly better in...

10th July 2009 I have heard that the Arlington EAA fly-in is the third largest airshow in the USA, it certainly is a highlight in the PNW aviation calender but the 3rd largest show in the USA? we would see as this would be our next camping trip. Richard was joining us in his Aeronca on the flight up to Arlington and a number of other Florence based pilots said that they would see us up there as they either could not fly or would be up there already due to other commitments. Typically the morning started cloudy and showery and the departure and journey across the coastal range was made in light drizzle, however weather in the valley and to the northeast looked promising. Our first stop was for breakfast at the Starduster Cafe at Independence Airport (7S5) and by the time we arrived the sun was out and the temperature was beginning to climb, things were looking up. After a 30 minute break, enough time to have a few cups of coffee and some excellent food, we were airborne again and heading north. The sky was rapidly clearing and the mountains all the way up to Seattle were visibile. We had agree with Richard to make a fuel stop at Chehalis-Centralia Airport (KCLS), this would allow Tango Charlie to reach Arlington for the fly-in and then reach a refuelling stop a healthy distance away from Seattle on our return. Richard's Aeronca requires fuel every 2 hours of flight so this provided a comfortable stopover for him also. As we headed northwards the airspace gradually became busier. We routed through the McMinville overhead and the circuit was busy with pilots who both knew and did not know the area, it all sounded a bit chaotic and even the Unicom was getting in on the RT action. A pilot arriving from the north who spoke very slowly and verbosely added to the melay and we were glad to be well away from the trouble up at 4,000ft above it all. The next encounter with an aircraft was just alongside the controlled airspace of Portland-Hillsboro airport when we had to avoid a glider crossing our path. Looking down to our right we could see that it had just been towed into the air from a busy glider site to the northwest of Hillsboro. At this point the terrain changed from the flat farmland of the Willamette Valley to forested hillsides with very little in the way of habitation. We crossed the Colombia River just to the west of the town of Kelso, the visibility was so good we could see the seaside town of Astoria at the very western end of the river and the large bridge that spans the river at that point. As we were about 30 miles from Chehalis we heard Richard make an unexpected call to the Scappoose CTAF which is on the same frequency as Chehalis. We thought that he may have changed his mind about trying for Chehalis and we decided to carry on and wait for him there instead of turning around and heading back to Scappoose. The wind was gradually building from the north and by the time the Chehalis runway came into sight the wind was gusting at over 25 knots and as we were still flying over undulating terrain the turbulance was also increasing. The airport seemed quiet so we made a straight in approach for runway 34. Refuelling at Chehalis. Note the windsock nearly at full stretch. We refuelled the Cessna, which was pretty cheap due to the competetive AVGAS price, and walked over to the airconditioned pilots lounge to wait for Richard. After 30 minutes or so Richard called up on the CTAF announcing his approach to Chehalis, we were relieved to hear his voice as it meant that the Arlington trip was still on. After landing Richard explained to us how his wing fuel tank was refusing to feed his main fuel tank and because of this his range was not as great as it should be, hence his unscheduled stop at Scappoose. It was ok to proceed but he would have to monitor his fuel and would have to make an additional stop on the way back if the problem continued. We set off seperately again to fly the last leg to Arlington which would take us along the east side of Seattle and right under the Class B airspace that surrounds the city. To the east Mount St Helens was clearly visible, the skies by now being completely clear of cloud. We were able to see where the northern half of the mountain had been blown out by the eruption that had occurred way back in 1980. The massive peak of Mount Rainier was also bright and clear to the east of Seattle, and further north we could see the snow topped peak of Mount Baker. Mount Rainier. As we started to skirt Seattle we descended to 3,000ft to keep under the Class B airspace, and with this things began to get bumpy. By now it was 1:00pm and the temperature had risen considerably, there was also a strong northerly wind that was being deflected by the foothills of the Cascades (including Mount Rainier) to the east. I tried to keep as high as I could while still giving the Class B the respect it deserved. A hazy Seattle on our lefthand side. Soon it was possible to climb above 6,000ft and things then became a lot smoother. The Arlington NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) laid out the procedures to be used when arriving at and departing from Arlington, our first objective was to head for the small grass airport at Green Valley. As we approached I was at the required 1,200ft and flying at the required speed of 90 knots, it seemed like I was the only one doing this as the approach frequency was full of talking both by controllers on the ground and pilots in the air trying to establish where everyone was!! The NOTAM said that pilots were to say nothing, to listen out to the controllers commands and to waggle the aircraft wings when requested. Instead everyone in the area was talking and as I came to within 1 mile of the airport I had to speak up as well to inform the controllers that I was about to fly over them. I was instructed to head for Arlington and to carry out a righthand pattern for runway 34, I immediately headed for Arlington and was relieved that we did not have to spend anymore time in the area, it sounded a bit chaotic. Some of the Cascade Mountains to the east of Seattle. As we landed an aerobatic Sukoi landed over the top of us before we were able to leave the runway, this is quite a common thing to happen at the airport during the fly-in but it felt pretty unusual to me. I cleared the runway as soon as I could and was directed to the parking and camping area, we had made it in one piece! Richard's Aeronca parked up at Arlington. Shortly after we had signed in and paid our $20 (very cheap for a weeks worth of parking/camping) we saw Richard taxi by on his way to the Vintage parking area. Personally I preferred our parking area as it was close to the flight line, away from most of the hustle and bustle of the static displays and near to the warm (not very hot and not too cold) showers. I must say that we were very impressed with the facilities on offer to those camping, not only the availablity of showers but also the number of clean porta-pottys, the wash basins and drinking water. It was all very well organised and executed. Some of the many impressive vintage aircraft on show We spent the rest of the day in glorious sunshine, walking around the static displays, looking at the rows of aircraft and watching the two hour airshow which although small had some interesting and unusual acts in it. We were found by some of the guys who had also made it up from Florence both by air and by road and we all sat around talking under Tango Charlies wings for some shade. As we were staying for a couple of nights it was possible for us to chill out, relax and not have to worry about getting home after the show. Parked up with the tent up at Arlington. I have put some pictures taken at Arlington on a page in the Blog Picture Gallery. Click here if you would like to go and see them. To be continued....