Aug 10 2012

Western tour, Portland, San Fran, Las Vegas

After leaving the Seattle area, I flew to the Portland area (1.5 hrs) to stay with Bruce Smith. The flight was terrific and I had an opportunity to see Mt Reiner which was truly an impressive sight.

Bruce is working on a LongEZ and is actually planning to use a Lycombing engine. Wow, I almost fell over. He is a retired airline captain and is working hard to get back in the air and is planning to keep it as stock as possible. We took the opportunity to drive over Al Wicks airport to check out his cozy 4, Subaru 6 cylinder installation. It is a VERY impressive install with a constant speed prop hanging on the end. I ask Al if he would start the engine and he said sure thing, mind you I pointed out to Al he had junk all over the strakes with the cowls off. Screws, sockets, washes, wrenches, etc. He said no problem and just cranked it up. NOTHING MOVED. The engine didnt vibrate or shake on startup, just a vroom! As he rev’d it up a few times and the engine just purred. There was no vibration on the plane at all. I was floored. Al said he is going to taxi test the plane in the next few weeks. Cant wait to hear the results.

Bruce and I spent the day together, driving around the country, hiking up waterfalls, etc. What a great time. This area of the county is certainly nice to visit.

When I headed out to the airport for my next leg to San Fran on (tuesday 8/7), the area was IFR (300 ft). After taking off, I broke out at 3000 ft and it was nice and clear on top. ATC had me climb to 13,000 ft as this leg took me right over the center of the Cascades Range with a 30 kt headwind. Again it was great views of the mountains over totally inhospitable terrain. Crap, not again. Flying victor airway sure puts you in crazy situations. I was nervous but am getting a bit more comfortable with this type of flying. I later found out most of the locals just follow the interstate as it keeps you out of the mountains, and I could have probably gotten below most of the headwind.

I did take the opportunity to fly past Crater Lake. What a terrific view from above! After 2.5 hrs and clearing the mountains, it was a fast decent to Petaluma (069) airport (just north of San Fran) and as I pulled up to the parking apron I found 4 other canard parked there. Wow, it was like a convention! Tim Andres, Jon Dembs, Don Denhard and David Viglierchio all flew in to chat and have lunch. It was a great visit at a really nice airport! Thanks guys for stopping by.

After lunch it was my nickel air tour of the San Fran harbor to overfly Treasure Island, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge on the way down to Ried Hillview (RHV) to stay with Charles Furnweger who is building a cozy 4 with a ROTARY ENGINE. Ouch. Since he already had an engine on a test stand it was best to just let him discover the joys of engine development on his own. We took the opportunity to fly up to Columbia (O22) so I could see what all the hipe is all about for this yearly canard fly-in. It is a great little gold mining town and Charles, Don Denhard (who lives there) and I were given our own personal historic tour by the Park Service Ranger. Even Don learned a few things…

After lunch at Don’s mountain top house (with stunning views) it was back to Hillview (.5 hrs), jump on the BART to head to downtown San Fran to Scoma’s (the best italian restaurant I have ever eaten at.. and I AM italian). It is located at Fisherman’s Wharf, and I highly recommend it.

Leaving Hillview this morning I flew up to Calaveras (CPU, .5 hrs) for some cheap $4.95/gal gas. It is located just north of Columbia on the way to Las Vegas. Hot there… After leaving on my IFR flight, ATC had me climb up to 17,000 ft. Wow! I have never cruised that high, and I am really glad I had the power to get me there, although the bird wasn’t too happy. I never appreciated all the complains I heard from western flyers about high oil temps. Mine got up to 240 for a while in a hard climb, 215 when I had to slow the climb and finally 210 in cruise. On the east coast I rarely get up to 200. Most of the 2.5 hr trip was at 175 kts at 6.5 gph. There certainly is something to be said for flying high for fuel efficiency. Again the terrain was stark and unforgiving. I sure will be happy to get back to the southern states where it is flat with lots of airports to divert to. You westerner’s can have this high rugged flying!

Las Vegas was UNBELIEVABLY hot when I landed (over 110f). Dry heat yes, but at 110 it is just freaken hot no matter what. This city is CRAZY with people. I remember it from a few years ago before all the development on the strip and it was busy, but it is now like NYC on new years eve. Crowds of people gawking at the sights, crowded sidewalks, street performers, just plain nuts and this is a week night. I am told it gets even busier on weekends and when the weather is better. I guess the heat is why I picked up a room for $24/night. Anyway, I cant wait to get out of here tomorrow morning (early) to head for Sedona for lunch and then to Phoenix area. It may be hot there, but wont be so crowded.

I am now heading east toward home and as much fun as I have had, meeting terrific people and the unforgettable sight,, the fact I am heading hope make me anxious to get there.

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