After a great start flying warbirds in formation in early June, the summer of 2016 provided great Northwest weather conditions and awesome flying opportunities with family and friends!
My friend Walt Cannon helped me rebuild my Warrior seats with new leather in the spring, so we obviously had to check them out in-flight together in the Warrior. In addition, after flying Walt in the Warrior, it made sense to fly Walt's Zenith STOL CH701 to check out its amazing short field takeoff and landing capabilities. We flew a short hop from Paine Field in Everett, WA to nearby Whidbey Air Park at the south end of Whidbey Island, where Walt demoed the amazing short field capability, using only a few hundred feet of the runway amid the tall trees at Whidbey Air Park. We'll have to come back to savor the brunch at Mukilteo Coffee Roasters, via a short path just off the runway.
Another advantage of owning an airplane is being able to take friends flying on a moment's notice. On a beautiful Sunday in late July we were able to fly our neighbors Connie and Dick Vaughan, enjoying sightseeing in the Puget Sound area, and then stopping for lunch at the Hub Restaurant at Tacoma Narrows. We were also able to check out some property that the Vaughans own in the south Puget Sound near Long Branch. While flying over their property, we discovered the nearby small private Howell airfield (00WA), which would be fun to try, but only in an aircraft like Walt's STOL CH701!
During the end of August, we were blessed with two enjoyable weeks of vacation fun with Alex, Nathaniel, David and Katie in Seattle. Alex and Nathaniel had a blast flying in 3DC, with each of the grandsons getting to fly from the left seat, while trying out our new leather front seat booster. Alex did extremely well as co-pilot and checklist reader, and was very smooth during his time on the flight controls. Nathaniel also flew smoothly, and was lulled to snooze mode while sitting on his Dad's warm lap on the descent into Renton. Both grandsons had fun climbing in the cockpit of Justin Draft's Nanchang CJ-6 warbird at Paine Field. I'm looking forward to more flight training of these two 'Young Eagles' in the coming years!
Katie and David took advantage of their 'private airliner' access to fly a trip in 3DC to the Orcas Island airfield (KORS) for a fun getaway overnight to the San Juan Islands in August. Katie and David got to enjoy the beautiful views of the north Puget Sound and all the islands en route to and from Orcas Island, and they both got to log some flying time from the left seat. Nice smooth turns, Katie!
In early September, the Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) hosted their 9th annual Hood River Fly-In. Although Mary and I have flown to Hood River in the past, we had not previously attended the Fly-In nor visited the WAAAM. It was time to visit, especially since a few of the Cascade Warbirds members planned to attend and get some formation flights with Tom Burlace, a formation instructor who planned to fly in from Colorado. The weather was gorgeous for the flight down, and we could see great views of the Cascade volcanos, including Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, the Three Sisters and Mt Bachelor in one sweeping view. We arrived at Hood River and made a rare landing on runway 7, since the normal winds from the west weren't howling down the Columbia Gorge.
The Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum is very impressive, housing not only an amazing collection of 1920s and 30s aircraft, but also cars and collectibles from that period, with many items restored to immaculate condition. The Hood River Fly-in has become more and more popular, with over 440 aircraft flying in for the 2016 event.
I was fortunate to coordinate with our Cascade Warbirds members at the Fly-In, and had the opportunity to fly Dave Desmond's Navion, with Dave in the left seat and Mary in back, on an enjoyable formation flight with Vic Norris in his IAR-823, while Tom Burlace instructed from Vic's right seat, and Mary took photos from the Navion back seat. I had a great time practicing close formation and echelon turns, cross-unders, close trail, pitchouts and rejoins, then an overhead pattern and my first landing in the Navion. The Navion is a great formation aircraft, responsive but stable, with good visibility, except directly overhead. Thanks for the opportunity, Dave.
Our return in the Warrior later in the afternoon provided more typical Columbia Gorge winds, as we crawled our way westward in the face of strong westerly headwinds. Our views of Mt Rainier from the south had shown some impressive lenticular cap clouds, but they had dissipated by our early evening flyby of Rainier en route to Renton.
Great summer flying was enjoyed by all!