Archive for the Category General


Back in the 172

So after a slight hiatus, I got back in the saddle today. Winds were blowing 11 knots gusting to 15, with peak gust at 26 knots. A perfect day to introduce crosswind landing procedures. We would also practice incipient spin recovery and emergency procedures.

First we flew out to the south and climbed to where Brett could demonstrate incipient spins and recovery.  Similar to stall recovery, I found the 172 to give a fair amount of warning before breaking free, and the recovery to be fairly tame. I do really enjoy this practice. It gives confidence with recovery, but also allows for early recognition of trouble during the busy maneuvers of take-off and landing. Plus it’s really fun.

On the way back to the airfield, Brett pulled the power on me simulating an engine out to practice emergency procedures. We’ve practiced this before and I felt more at ease running through the process of setting up a glide, choosing an appropriate landing location, and running through the trouble shooting checklist. During our approach at my chosen road, I reached over to put in some flaps. As I looked over, I saw an incoming cropduster (they often don’t have radios) which rapidly passed within 150 ft and 75 ft below us. The skies aren’t always as big as we want them to be and this was a reminder to keep our heads on a swivel and eyes open. I would have never seen him without reaching over for the flaps. After this slight distraction while on approach, Brett gave me a little reminder to drop the nose a hair. I looked down at the airspeed indicator and we had dropped to 60 mph which is too slow and getting close to stall if needing to maneuver.

We finished our lesson with crosswind landings. Even though these were some of the most challenging conditions in which I have attempted and made landings, I found that flying the pattern, making an appoach, and landing to feel better than ever. I am psyched that some of this is starting to stick! Not only that, I found the crosswind landings to be fun, though very engaging.

This flight was full. It was the first where I felt a bit of wear at the end of the lesson and it was good to stop when we did. At the same time I felt more in control of the aircraft and confident when executing maneuvers. Lots of learning to go, but I am excited with seeing progress.


Flying the Diamond

Today I got a huge treat! The plan was to fly to Condon where Brett was to meet up with a student for a lesson, and we would do a lesson there and one back. Since the 172 was booked we got to take out Gorge Aviation’s other plane, the Diamond Star. Now I like the 172, but the Diamond is dead sexy! Its lines are reminiscent of a glider. Once in the cockpit the difference from the Cessna is initially overwhelming, but adjusting to where everything is pretty rapid.

We were a bit pressed for time on the flight over, so weren’t able to get into much instruction, but it was super fun to just get a feel for the Diamond. Not far out of The Dalles we climbed up nearby the layer of patchy cumulus or “Simpsons” clouds. This was the most fun I’ve had flying yet! We were sure to keep a sharp eye out for other planes, but weaving over, around, and brushing shoulders with these clouds was absolutely amazing! You could really enjoy the 3 dimensional aspect of flying.
All too soon we reached Condon (the Diamond really likes to move too) and entered the pattern. While flying over the airfield we spotted a local cropduster on the ground with engine running, and Brett made the comment to keep an eye peeled for these guys since they typically operate without radios. By the time we were on final, the cropduster was taxiing out and looking as if he were going to jump on the runway in front of us. He saw us just as he rolled onto the runway and made a rapid 180. I was about to put in the throttle and go around when Brett took the controls and eased us around and into the landing. The whole thing was a good wakeup call not to fall too much into routine.

Cropduster taxiing for takeoff

On the return trip we practiced stalls (a bit easier in the Diamond than the Cessna but maybe that’s just me), turns around a point, and crabbing and slipping. Also while focused on ground reference exercises, Brett pulled the engine power on me, simulating an engine failure. This consisted of attaining glide slope speed (90 in the Diamond), finding a suitable landing site (I chose a field instead of the nice,  paved runway which was already inline with my heading, …damn), then trouble shooting the engine failure.

Today’s landing at The Dalles went better. The lesson for me to take away was the use of flaps to bleed off altitude while maintaining airspeed. We approached straight in, which felt unusual, and were a bit too high initially. Once Brett clued me in to putting in flaps we descended perfectly to the runway, and this time I was able to be a bit more patient with flying the plane to the runway and letting it set down. Definitely psyched!!! What a day!


A 1 Skyraider

We had an unexpected visitor for gas here at the airport today.  On his way down south for some airshows.  Neat. Video: Skyraider Low Pass

More information here:

Bozeman, MT

The sometimes stubborn winter weather allowed for a great last-minute hop over to KBZN the other night.  I was able to blast off from KDLS and gain beautiful VFR-on-top weather with a great tailwind for the trip over.  I was even asked to slow up to follow 3 private jets for the arrival into Bozeman.  Big Sky country is a popular destination for the President’s Day holiday.  Yellowstone Jet Center was accommodating despite my small aircraft compared to a ramp full of Gulfstreams.

I enjoyed an evening with friends and the weather forced me to sleep in a little bit the next day.  By noon I was able to depart VFR and climb again to blue skies above.  Thanks to turbo and oxygen I enjoyed smoother air and ice-free blue skies on top all the way to Lewiston, ID.  I opted for a rest stop and a bathroom break before enjoying a scenic VFR flight down the Columbia River back to The Dalles.  It turns out with a little flexibility in scheduling, even longer cross-country trips can be successful and even routine any time of year.

To bad all the other guys missed such a great concert.

Twin Oaks & Pancakes

Yesterday we lucked out with a great break in the weather to have a little fun.  We arranged 6 folks in two airplanes and headed off on an adventure.  We took our flight school Diamond DA40, and a Cessna T182RG to the monthly pancake breakfast at Twin Oaks Airpark in Hillsboro (7S3).  The Dalles was high overcast on our departure and we chose to fly the gorge to Troutdale before tuning SW direct to Twin Oaks.  I was flying the DA40 and we made a scenic lap through downtown Portland on the way.  I negotiated with TTD tower first and was granted the north bank transition: This allows us to fly fairly low-level along the north bank of the Columbia, cross PDX at mid-field around 1500′, then proceed directly over the city to our destination.

This event is always popular, but great weather in February brings out a lot more people.  EAA Chapter 105 is the home wing of the Vans Air Force, so there are always plenty of RV’s.  They run one of the smoothest breakfasts around.

After increasing our personal weight & balance we blasted off back home.  This time we chose to hop up on top of the clouds to sneak a peak at the sun and Mt. Hood on the way back.  We capped off the day with the LDA/DME 25 approach and broke out at 2200.  What a neat way to start the weekend.  Thanks to Clint for some great photos!


After making no-go decision on Friday due to freezing rain, we were anxious to get in the air today. Turns out the temperatures were favorable, with an inversion layer providing ice-free cruising at IFR altitudes above. We made sure that we had a solid alternate in the desert down south (KRDM) due to the ceilings near minimums for the approach back into The Dalles.
We filed and blasted off into the murk that was blanketing the valley and were consumed totally as we climbed through 1200′. Soon we were rewarded wih magnificant views as we climbed above the first layer at 3500′.
We had planned an extended route to allow for lower altitudes in case we found ourselves in cooler clouds above, but it turned out to be unecessary. Later on our descent into YKM we realized that the low IFR weather we had been expecting had mostly lifted. The coupled ILS approach was flown professionally by my student, who I’m sure enjoyed the autopilot’s help with the 35kt crosswind for the initial leg of the approach.

We renegotiated a more direct routing for the way back and blasted off on the Gromo 2 departure. Soon after leveling off we turned toward VECCU, the initial fix for the LDA 25 approach back into KDLS. This was to be the second of three approaches planned for this flight, and the automated weather told us that it was going to be close. Sure enough after a well executed approach we found ourselves at Decision Height still very much in the clouds. Up and away we went and headed south, quickly regaining the mostly clear skies on top. We negotiated to fly the GPS-A approach and soon we were diving back into the clouds in search of the runway below. This approach allows us to descend a little lower and that turned out to be just enough. We broke out right at the bottom and circled for the runway. There is no better feeling than breaking out of the clouds at the bottom of a well flown approach, it’s magic every time. All in all a glorious day flying with great views on top, wishing we could bring everyone along for the flight. Kudos to Wayne for a great flight and moving on to the last stage of his IFR training.

Boeing Field, Friday Harbor, Scappoose

Some photos… Commentary to follow.
5.1 hours non-stop, great flying, beautiful weather, nice work Travis.

See it all…

Flying the Northwest is one of the most enjoyable experiences I have encountered in my flying career.  I have been fortunate enough to fly most of the Western states and have seen many forms of the natural beauty it portrays. But geographically, flying the Northwest is tough to beat.
I am a flight instructor based at Columbia Regional Airport (KDLS) and I want to share a flight I went on with two friends in a S35 Beech Bonanza. It was the day after Christmas and we got bored of cleaning up after a Christmas dinner. So what better way to escape the boredom than a aerial tour of the NW?
It was a gloomy afternoon due to the thick overcast clouds overhead, but this was not enough to keep us on the ground. After pre-flight, we started up, taxied and took-off westbound over the Columbia River. We planned on a short odyssey over the Columbia Gorge,  but this quickly turned into a scenic flight to Boeing Field.

rainierUpon reaching Troutdale the skies cleared to unlimited visibility enabling us to see Mt. Hood, Rainer, St. Helens, and Adams; wow what a sight. We picked up flight following and and soon landed 13L at Boeing Field. We bought some charts, visited the restrooms, and climbed back aboard the bird that got us here.

For the flight back we decided we would fly direct to KDLS and shoot the LDA instrument approach into RW 25. 30 minutes out of KDLS I filed IFR so we could legally shoot the approach, which was IMC. After being cleared for the approach we descended into the clouds to begin the approach. This was a “fun” experience for the owner of the aircraft because he has never done one in IMC in his 30 years of VFR flying. We soon had the runway environment in sight and landed just as the day the was turning to dusk.approach

I can’t say enough about flying the Northwest. This region offers mountainous terrain, dessert, volcanoes,  and ocean views. It is special to have all these qualities in one area. For those of you that haven’t flown here, you’re missing out. Cheers.


This is a journal of flying adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest.  Join us for the ride, no need to pitch in for fuel.