Aug 02 2012

Salt Lake City -> Boise, ID -> St Maries, ID

After leaving UT it was off to Boise (248 nm, 1.4 hrs) to visit Aero LED. The flight was at 16,000 ft again with no issues. Glad the O2 system was up and fully charged as I really needed it.
The Great Salt Lake

Normally, when I fly IFR it is so boring, I just read a book (my Kindle). The Trio Pro, flies he airplane better than I can and ATC takes care of watching for traffic so what’s one to do (joint the mile high club…solo?) On this leg I was enthralled with just looking outside the plane. The landscape started changing from dry and baron over the great salt lake to the mountainous terrain of Idaho. Very nice.

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After landing in KMAN, Napa ID, I borrowed the crew car was drove to Boise (about 20 min) only to find the address I drove to was Aero LED’s business address and they were REALLY located right near the airport that I landed out….shit! The blue caprice piece of crap car started backfiring and acting up as I was leaving Boise.


There was some really interesting architecture in Boise, and I stopped by Aero LED to see what their office looked like.

I finally got it going and headed back to the airport. Boise is a very cool city on the flat plain. I wouldn’t mind checking it out again, but the area looks too much like the desert of CO for my tastes. After driving for anther 20 min, I found the road to Aero closed, I couldn’t find a back way in and just about gave up my visit as I was feeling frustrated, pressed for time and was getting hungry. Finally the Susan (the owners wife) picked me up at the Walmart parking lot for the last 5 min drive to the office. It was very cool to see where my LED lights were manufactured and meet the workers.
After being dropped back off that the Walmart, the freaken crew car would not start. I spent 15 min trying getting it running, and finally headed back to the plane for fueling and a bite to eat at the airport diner.
The leg from Boise (KMAN) to St Marie’s (S72) was 245 nm at 1.7 hrs at 16,000 ft. After flying thousands of hours in my bird, this was the most nerve wracking flight I have ever made. The land was not only desolate but totally unforgiving.
The landscape changed from green with rugged mountains to

Dry barren land with deep crevices,

Beautiful but scary too!

NO place to land, no people. Just pointy mountains top, steep slopes and deep gorges. I put my satellite emergency locator beacon in my pocket (to keep it handy), checked the country side for possible landing sites (none). I watched my GPS count the miles down to my destination and couldn’t wait to get out of this area. FInally some flat areas which would give me some options. Ya! I am pass the really bad part.

If YOU ever contemplate a alternate aircraft engine and YOU want to be a test pilot of a rotary, auto engine, etc., I encourage you to fly this leg once and it will definitely see how important a reliable aircraft engine is. You will become an advocate for a engine that is 70 yrs old but is totally designed and suited to the application. In this country there are NO options. You fly or you die. Period. They probably wouldn’t even find the remains of your plane for a very long time without technology. The IO-320 purred away cruising at 165 kts at 7.1 gph. I’ll tell you what guys, I have NEVER been so happy to get on the ground after this leg, kissed the bird (wont tell you what part) and said THANK YOU for keeping me safe.
Arriving in St Marie’s I found a small town of 2500 people with a airport is in a valley. It was very tight pattern to get the airport with hills towering over you when flying down wind and final. Tom Carver met me at the airport, and it was off to the local saw mill for a tour of his plant which employes about 350 people (that 7% of the town). OK, here is your test… find the airport in the valley.

The airport is nestled in the hills which made for an interesting left hand approach in which you have to fly about 100 ft above a hill side to get in, or just do a direct approach to land.
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A small little airport which has the most unique wind vane I have ever seen. A fighter jet on a bearing which turns with the wind. How cool is that!


Tom has worked at a saw mill plant for 40 years, and has designed and built most of the control systems for operation the plant. It was so interesting to see how a log is cut into 2×4, 2×6′s etc and how plywood is made. The sawing machines work with incredible precision (+/- .001″) and are computer controlled to obtain the maximum profit and output from a log at speeds which would blow your mind. This machine will take an entire log, instantly decide on the best way to cut the log, adjust the bandsaw blade position and cut the log into 2×4 and 2×5 board 18 ft long in about 4 seconds.

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Tom showed me how plywood is made and took the time to show me all over the plant
I watch a log (24″ dia) being stripped into a 1/8″ sheet for plywood in less than 10 seconds. All that was left is a 4″ dia fence post, which was ejected and 4 seconds later another log was loaded into the machine and started being stripped into sheet. Incredible!
Every time I see a sheet of plywood I’ll thank Tom for his tour as I now know how it is made. What an experience.
We headed to his home for a salmon dinner with his wife Peggy and to look at his cozy 4 project. Tom is a terrific craftsman, but has too many irons in the fire.

We had a great night to talking about planes, and hopefully, I helped motivate him to get back into the project and get it done! The country side there was beautiful the people were so friendly as could only be found in a small town, but I would have an issue with driving 60 mile to Home Depot, Lowes or a Walmart (my favorite places to shop).
Before i left Tom took me to the local cemetery and showed me a tome stone of Edwin Ray who was a longEZ pilot. He had his plane and clouds engraved on his head stone. How cool is that!


My next leg is off to Seattle across the Cascade Mountains.

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