Monday, June 24, 2019

Becoming a pilot

I completed my Flight Instructor certificate (CFI) a little over a year ago,  Since then I have had several people ask me "How do I become a pilot," so I decided to write a blog post about it.

Obtaining a Private Pilot certificate

It is best to think of learning to fly as three parts:  Knowledge, Skill, and Exam.


Knowledge is about leaning the fundamental science and rules of flight - Newton, Bernoulli, et al. - as well as the basic rules of the air.  The traditional way to gain the Knowledge is through ground school -- about 40 hours of classroom time.  But there are also online options where you can watch videos and read at your convenience, or you can have a flight instructor give you the ground lessons one on one.


Skill is about developing the motor-skills and and judgement to safely manipulate the controls.  The skill part is developed by taking flight lessons.  Going out with an instructor and flying the airplane. Watching, doing, practicing...  The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours, and in those hours there are other specific amounts of time that must be spent in focused training.

Most people take closer to 70 hours. But that includes folks that start, stop, take a couple years off, and start up again.

Knowledge and Skill are best done in parallel, working on both at the same time.  Doing ground school and flying gives you a way to immediately tie the knowledge and skill together in a concrete application.


The exam is the third part, and you should think of the exam as being its own three part process. A Knowledge tests (often called the "written").  A computer based multiple choice test.  There are several hundred questions, and the computer randomly chooses a subset of them for you to answer.

An oral exam.  You sit down with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) and he or she asks you about flying scenarios to evaluate your knowledge and application of regulations and judgement.

And finally a flight test, (usually immediately after successful completion of the oral) where you go out and fly your first passenger, the DPE.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

This is hard. This is right.

The day after Valentine's day, I was at work on a video conference when my desk phone rang, I could see it was my wife calling and I let it go to voicemail.  No sooner did my phone stop ringing, and my cell phone buzzed.  Again, my wife.  OK, this might be important.  I muted the video conference and picked up the call from my wife.

"The foster care placement desk called with a brand new baby about to be discharged from the hospital and they need a home NOW.  Can I go get it?"

It?  Girl or Boy?  How long has "it" been in the hospital?  Do they have another plan?  How long do they guess "it" will be with us?

"He's a boy, and he is only 4 days old.  No other plan right now.  He's Native American / Alaskan Eskimo.  And they need an answer within an hour."

OK, let me finish this video conference, and I will call you back.

Four days is significant.  The last baby we had was held in the hospital for nearly three weeks while he was given morphine to ease the physical pain of withdrawal, and gained a pound or two.  But this new baby is ready to be released at only four days.  He must be pretty healthy.

I called Sandra back and we agreed together we were ready to dive into another infant.  In our mid 50's, we recognize new-born babies demand a lot of physical and mental stamina that is more often found in 20 and 30 year-olds.  Sandra went to pick up the baby.

I arrived home to find a tiny blond, blue-eyed (yeah, about that Eskimo thing...), delicate, frail, peanut of a baby that, at just over six pounds, occupied little more than my left hand.  His legs still folded up into his abdomen where they had been tucked for the previous nine months.  And he was tired.

For the next couple weeks, our new roommate could eat about an ounce or two at a time.  He would wake during the night every couple hours, and we would change his diaper, snuggle him up, poke a couple of ounces of formula in him, remind him "no failure to thrive on our watch," and tuck him back into his cradle.

Taking him anywhere with us required strapping him into a car-seat.  Because he was so tiny, we moved the straps down to their lowest setting and added the extra supplied padding around his head to keep him from being tossed about.  But even more so, it required tugging on his left leg to get it pulled out from under the car-seat straps.  More than once I had to unbuckle him to get his leg out.

About mid-March he started to perk up, and he would be awake for more than an hour at a time.  But he still slept a lot.  He started being able to eat a little more, and was going nearly four hours between feedings.  He loved his pacifier and it went everywhere with us.  We had also established a bit of a routine.  Being at work most of the day, I would step in when I got home. I would feed him about 7:PM.  He would often sleep on my chest in the evening while Sandra and I watched a show.  I also got the 11:PM feeding, which usually involved me reclining in the loveseat and falling asleep with him nestled up on my chest.

He continued to gain weight, unfold, and grow longer.  We found he was quick to smile, and had a very sweet disposition.  At the end of March we took him to Arizona to attend the wedding of one of Sandra's friends.  On the flight down, we gave him a bottle as we took off and landed to keep his ears clear.  As we were unloading, the elderly couple in the seat in front of us stood to collect their belongings.  Glancing over the seat they exclaimed, "You have a baby!" (yep, we noticed) "We had no idea you had a baby back there!"  He was just that good.

About three months he started sleeping through the night.

Our 17 year-old daughter soon claimed him.  She's not too keen on the frail little babies, but he was supporting his own head, and his ready smile provided entertainment.  He became a prized companion.  We would debate who's turn it was to carry him into church, or who got to sit by him in a restaurant.  In public, his toothless grin and clear blue eyes drew strangers in.  But you could see puzzled looks in people's faces.  Sandra and I are old enough to easily be his grandparents.  But our daughter, while old enough, would be a very young mom.  Some days we would let people wonder, others days we found subtle ways to explain. "We got him at four days old."  or "He's one of the sweetest babies we have gotten."

It gave people an opening for them to ask questions without us having to say "None of us gave birth to him, he is a foster-baby."

At the end of May he got his first ride in a personal aircraft.  After a short flight, we spent the day with good friends in Friday Harbor, and then enjoyed a delicious dinner.  That evening we flew home and tucked him into his own bed.

Being in foster care, and having received negligible prenatal care or medical attention, we monitor his development carefully and seek the support of professionals.  At four months we brought him in for a developmental evaluation.  Not only did he do well, he excelled.  Well beyond his physical age, his ability to track and manipulate toys was consistently at least double his chronological age.  At five months he started army-crawling around the room.

The months have passed quickly.  This Sunday he will be six months old.  But it appears he is on track to be moved to his forever family on Thursday.  I am going to miss his grin and the excitement of watching him discover the world around him.

He's not the cutest baby we've had, nor is he the one I have felt the greatest family connection to.  But he is one of the sweetest.  And every night as I give him is bed-time bottle and rock him to sleep, looking into his face I am reminded that he is a tiny, sacred life.  It is clear he knows he can trust, and that he is safe in my house.  He is easy to love.

Yet later this week I have to break that trust for his benefit, and he will need to learn to trust a new family.  And they are an awesome family.  Young Husband and Wife, four really nice kids, and a baby just a couple months younger than him.  He'll be loved, and played with, and trained, and tormented as the "little" brother...  There will be joy, and laughter, and disappointment, and success, and hope, and failure, and heartache, and achievement, but most of all, he will be loved.  Loved well.  Without us.  By the time he is two he will have forgotten his time at our house, and have no significant memory of life beyond his new family.

But at our house he will have been given a chance to grow, and to thrive, and to develop, and to know how to be loved.  And we will have done our job.

Later this week, we will sit on the kitchen floor, eat ice cream, and grieve our loss -- while celebrating his new hope.

This is hard.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

You Can't Legislate Morality

(or can you?)

When someone says "you cannot legislate morality," I think "what a bunch of crap."  Because really we do it all the time.  There is a whole body of law we make because we think something is moral or immoral.

Laws of Morality

There are some obvious laws we all agree on, and I like to think of these as the Non-Aggression-Principle laws.  Don't kill, don't imprison, don't steal...  pretty straight forward.  But there are also the don't deceive laws because they use trickery to kill, imprison, or steal.  And we often wander into some questionable areas, like "don't cut down your tree because I want the oxygen."  Don't throw your stuff out on the edge of the road because it could make me sick, or detract from beauty.  Don't build a theme park on your property next to my property...  But all of these derive from enough of society believing the act is right or wrong (moral or immoral) to bring about a law.  This category of laws evolves like this:  world view (religion, philosophy, person or object of veneration) --> morality --> need for justice --> law. We legislate morality all the time.

Laws of Convention

Sometimes there is no right or wrong in behavior, as long as everyone does it the same way.  A simple example is driving on left or right side of the road.  Is one side more moral than the other?  No.  But if some of us drove on the left, and some of us drove on the right, chaos would ensue.  Same with green mean go, red means stop.  It could just as well be orange means go and purple means stop.  We just have to do it all the same.

But wait there's more!

I realized there is another category of laws that I had missed out on.  All the laws above we can break, and if those laws above are broken we, as a society, must step in to meter out justice.  All these legislative laws require an "if you do this, then I must act to pass out justice on you" kind of response.  It turns out there are "laws" that exist without the requirement of legislation or predefined retributive acts of justice.  Gravity, Friction, Newton...

Natural Laws

There is this additional set of laws that cannot be broken.  We cannot break the law of gravity.  As hard as we try, we cannot make gravity go away.  We can create forces to counteract it, but a soon as we remove those forces, gravity wins.  Same with Friction, or "two sides of a triangle have to sum to more than the third."  You just cannot break these laws.  And as a dutiful adherent to Austrian economics, I would throw "law of supply and demand" into the list.  We can try to override it, but in the end, the law of supply and demand will create a bubble to burst our feeble attempt to defeat it.

The important thing about natural law is that the consequences occur on their own.  There are no gravity police standing around with ropes to pull people back to earth, no F=MA police near by waiting to squish folks who decelerate too quickly into the ground, a wall, or another vehicle.  Nature itself meters out justice without any help from us.

What is Really Meant

We cannot make people moral through laws.  We can't make them believe the same thing as someone else by making a law about it.  We can put laws in place to govern people’s moral behavior.  And we do that regularly.

Other Resources

Why We Can’t Help But Legislate Morality
You can't NOT legislate morality
You can't NOT legislate morality (again)
A counter view (requires linguistic gymnastics)

Saturday, June 03, 2017

On Taking Written Tests

As I prepare to take my Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) test, my instructor sent me this list as advice.  I decided it is good enough to be shared:

I have a set of rules/test taking tips that I teach everyone to use.  Maybe it will help you, maybe not.  Please consider them and how to adapt them to your own experiences.

While in the test room, sit down.
  1. Relax, you have a long time to take the test.  You are paying for the use of that chair for 150 minutes.  Get your money's worth.
  2. RTFQ.  Read the full question and understand what they are asking for.  Don't guess, reread it for understanding.
  3. Write out all the Acronyms you can think of and leave room for more as you test.
  4. Write down all the formulas you can think of and refer to them later.  In the heat of battle, it is easy to make a mistake.  In times of stress, refer to steps 1 and 2.
  5. Draw and label all axis and lights and anything else on a drawing of an airplane, it may help jog additional memories while under stress.
  6. Know the standards.  Write the ones you remember and add to the list as you work.  Check all chart values.
  7. Read ALL notes on every page.  There will be parts of the answer in them.
  8. Make grids and tables.  Carefully keep everything in order, columns and straight lines and add labels as you work so you can go back to them and understand your work.
  9. Always use a straight edge.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Take off, Land, Refuel (Repeat): Ferrying a Cirrus SR22 - G6 from NC to Seattle

My good friend Eric decided he needed an airplane, so he bought the newest, fanciest one he was rated for.  He bought a new 2017 Cirrus SR22 G6.  Wow, lots of numbers and letters.  Funny thing about us guys, we can have entire conversations in just numbers and letters.  Maybe my next post will be about automobile tires.

The Cirrus is the current pinnacle of single piston-engine GA technology.  Others may assert their plane is faster, or carries more, or whatever, but Cirrus is the current leader of sales and product integration.  From the twin turbo charged 315 HP engine, to the composite air-frame, to the complete avionics integration, to the full air-frame parachute (called Cirrus Air-frame Parachute System or CAPS), Cirrus has done a lot right with this plane.

Early in the Cirrus' history, there were quite a few accidents, so Cirrus established a standardized flight training program with special emphasis on safety and consistent procedures.  This training has greatly reduced the incidence of fatal Cirrus accidents.  In my opinion, the manufacturer has a significant interest in their product NOT killing their customers -- nor even having a reputation of killing their customers.  So they take this training very seriously, even presenting it as elite, or mystical, or... almost to the point of an evangelistic theology zeal.  They don't say it out-right but it can seem like they are thinking "morally superior pilots have taken the Cirrus Transition training."  (Note:  Eric disagrees with my perceptions here.)

Since Eric and I had made cross country flights together in the past, we knew how to cooperate well in the cockpit.  Eric also wanted the comfort of the extra cross-country experience in the cockpit, so he invited me to join him on the flight.  The plane came with four days of transition training for the new owner, but none for me.  A couple weeks before the plane was to be picked up we procured the training materials, and I worked through them.  Eric and I went to a local flight school to get some experience in a comparable Cirrus to reduce surprises for me in the plane.

The Preparation

Every new type of plane has it's idiosyncrasies, and this one is no different.  And it is a procedure heavy airplane.  Check-lists are integrated into the avionics systems.  There are specific things you do at specific altitudes, there are specific things you DON'T do at specific altitudes.  There is a fair amount of right rudder required to keep the plane straight during take off.  The side yoke has a distinct feel that makes it different from every other plane I have flown, and it takes a while to get accustomed to the feel

And you don't "fly" this plane, you more manage its systems.  Power forward. Lots of right rudder.  Airspeed alive.  Nose up.  Climb straight ahead.  600 feet AGL acknowledge the parachute can be used.  Press the autopilot button.  Watch.

And the autopilot is the best one I have encountered in a GA airplane.

I got in a couple landings.  They were not as smooth as I had hoped or wanted, but they were adequate.

Eric took an airliner to Knoxville TN where he picked up his new airplane and got his transition training.  He then flew his plane to Asheville NC to spend a couple days with his family.  I took an airliner to Asheville on the 15th where we spent the night at his parent's home.  It was my first ever trip to North Carolina, so I got to check off another state.

Eric's parents made a family adventure out of bringing us to the airport in the morning.  They are spectacularly kind people.  Eric would be PIC for the flight, since it is his plane, his insurance, and he had just received all the training.  But he agreed to let me do a landing in Asheville so I could also check North Carolina off my "land in all 50 states" list.


The Cirrus has two large computer displays in the cockpit.  Hardware wise they are identical.  Functionally, the one on the left in front of the pilot is tasked as the Primary Flight Display (PFD) and has all of the instrumentation necessary for flight.  Things like airspeed, attitude, altitude, and heading.  The one on the right is tasked as the Multi Function Display (MFD) and can be switched for all sorts of other purposes, displaying engine gauges, or charts, or terrain, or flight planning, or even the night vision infra-red camera (this plane has everything).  In the event of a PFD failure, there is a red button between the displays that sets both displays to mirror the primary fight instruments and the engine gauges.  So for me to fly from the right seat, we hit the red button to put all the information in front me as well.  We did an uneventful takeoff, circled around for landing, taxied off to the ramp, and picked up our instrument clearance, and programmed the autopilot.

Back to the runway, we lined up, pushed the power lever forward, broke the surly bonds of earth, and began our journey.  At 600 feet, we made our "CAPS available" call, switched to the departure controller, and hit the autopilot button.  The plane climbed into a monster 60-plus knot headwind pushing against our progress.  At 10,000 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.

Up we went out of North Carolina, over Tennessee, Kentucky, the corner of Indiana, and into Illinois.  We did a touch and go and then landed in Salem IL just over 3 hours later to refuel.  My second new state.

We had hoped to make a landing in Missouri, North of St. Louis, but the winds were not giving us any help making forward progress and we were going to run late into the day if we spent too much time airport hopping.


In Salem, we relived any physiological pressing needs, refueled the plane, filed a new flight plan, and went through the departure procedure.  Back to the runway, we lined up, pushed the power lever forward, broke the surly bonds of earth, and continued our journey.  At 600 feet, we made our "CAPS available" call, switched to the departure controller, and hit the autopilot button.  The plane climbed into a smaller headwind.  At 10,000 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.

Had the winds allowed us to make it north of St Louis on the previous leg, and had we not continued to fight a headwind on this leg, we may have been able to stretch the trip from Asheville to Rapid City into just two flights.  But the wind had taken its toll and we stopped in Wayne Nebraska to top the plane off.


We relived any physiological pressing needs, refueled the plane, filed a new flight plan, and went through the departure procedure.  Back to the runway, we called for our clearance, and were met with a confused controller who could not locate our flight plan in the system.  Fine.  While sitting next to the runway, I filed another plan over the phone.  But the computer said our plan was not valid.  Their computer wanted us to route significantly north around a pair of Military Operation Areas (MOA).  I wanted to fly between them.  We debated on the phone.  We ended up filing a Visual Flight Plan, and then flying the exact same route I wanted for our instrurment flight.  We taxied out, pushed the power lever forward, broke the surly bonds of earth, and continued our journey.  At 600 feet, we made our "CAPS available" call, switched to the departure controller, picked up VFR flight following, and hit the autopilot button.  The plane climbed into a smaller headwind.  At 8,500 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.

We landed in Rapid City, tucked the plane into the FBO's hangar, and got a room for the night.  I have stayed in Rapid City twice in the recent years.  The first was on a family vacation and we stayed at the La Quinta adjoining the the Watikti Water Park.  The next time was with Eric on the way to Oshkosh in 2014, and we ended up at Fairfield Inn, This time we stayed at the new addition, The Residence Inn.  It is newer and the nicest of the three.

We spent that night debating going around a weather system to the south through Boise, or attempt to fly through or over it.  We deferred the debate to the morning when the next weather report was due.  We didn't rush too much in the morning.  The free shuttle took us back to where the plane had been safely tucked away for the night in WestJet's hangar.


We we decided the route to Missoula looked clear, so we loaded the plane back up, filed a new flight plan, and went through the departure procedure.  Back to the runway, we lined up, pushed the power lever forward, broke the surly bonds of earth, and continued our journey.  At 600 feet, we made our "CAPS available" call, switched to the departure controller, and hit the autopilot button.  The plane climbed into a smaller headwind.  At 10,000 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.

Air traffic control alerted us to traffic to the left of our nose and closing.  Eric and I searched the sky and finally spotted it.  Zipping past us on the left about a mile a way was a small L-39 trainer Jet.  Somebody was out having fun in their toy.

When we crossed into Wyoming we asked the controller if the MOA to our north was active and how high would he need us to be to get a direct clearance.  He asked if we could accept 13,000, but being an "odd-thousand" it is for east bound flight, and we were headed west.  We requested and were cleared direct at 14,000 feet.  We donned the O2 cannulas and twisted the knobs for the new heading and altitude.  At 14,000 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.  We eventually poked up even further to 16,000 looking for more favorable speeds, and hit 201 true air speed.

We eventually were vectored down for the approach into Missoula.  In preparation it appeared we were going to pass through a layer of clouds, so we prepped the TKS system and got a bit of deice fluid out on the wings.  Our route flew us around the clouds and we never touched any of them.

We borrowed the crew car from Minuteman Aviation and headed into town for a nice lunch.


From Missoula the weather reports were showing low clouds across eastern and central Washington, and scattered to broken layers in the Puget Sound.  So we decided to press on, refueled the plane, filed a new flight plan, and went through the departure procedure.  Back to the runway, we lined up, pushed the power lever forward, broke the surly bonds of earth, and continued our journey.  At 600 feet, we made our "CAPS available" call, switched to the departure controller, and hit the autopilot button.  The plane climbed into a smaller headwind.  At 14,000 feet the plane leveled off, and we sat back to watch it fly.

We cleared the Rocky Mountains, and we could see Spokane was under a broken layer of clouds.  Soon the broken layer layer became a solid bank below us.  Eric and I discussed how if we lost the engine over the clouds below. the parachute was a really good option.  It was not needed.  The controllers updated our routing, assigning us an arrival into the Puget Sound.  When we crossed over the Moses Lake airport, we asked the controllers about altitude assignments on the approach.  The controller was helpful and told us to use the approach for lateral guidance, and ATC would be assigning altitudes.

When we crossed the Cascade Mountains, the controllers told us to initiate our descent and began the vectoring process to the Renton airport.  In just over two hours. we were taxing Eric's plane up to its new home.


Two days, coast to coast, middle of winter -- never touched a single cloud. Amazing. Full Photo Album.
Adding North Carolina and Illinois

Friday, December 23, 2016

Bringing the SNJ back from Fairbanks AK to Lincoln CA: Part Three

...continued from parts one and two.

Kamloops BC to Oroville WA (USA)

The next morning was "warm" for Canada and the sky above was morning-sky-blue.  We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the hotel and caught a shuttle back out to the airport.  The wool pants and thermal underwear gave way to a fresh pair of jeans, the fleece was staying in my duffel bag.

The plane was waiting for us where we parked it the night before, but neither Andy nor I could remember the gate code (Note to self:  Take a photo of the gate code before exiting the ramp).  We found a cooperative airport staff member who escorted us back onto the ramp.

Penticton Regional Airport
Andy filed another international flight plan including a time window for us to arrive at the Oroville Airport.

We had plenty of fuel for our short flight across the border so we loaded our bags back into the plane, strapped in, and pointed the plane back down the runway towards Kamloops Lake and the Thompson River we had followed in the previous evening.  As the tail lifts off the ground I let it rise just enough to be able to see the runway ahead over the big engine obscuring my view.  The airplane lifts smoothly off the runway and resumes biting into the sky as I retract the gear.

We climb paralleling the shoreline until we clear the ridge on the south side of the lake and then turn direct on course toward Oroville.  I grew up in Washington, and I have been nearly everywhere in the state.  But I don't recall ever having been to Oroville before.  It sits just four miles from the border where customs agents are usually working the automotive crossing.  For us to clear customs here one of the agents is sent to greet us, thus the earlier time window.

Somewhere down there is the border
Crossing the border I look for the tell-tale line of trimmed vegetation, but in the arid climate of Eastern Washington, there is no vegetation growing from the rock to be trimmed back.

We extend the gear and make a wide left-downwind pattern and line up on the narrow runway.  And boy does it look narrow.  But this time I am ready for it.  I kick the rudders a couple times to loosen up my feet and get my heels on the floor rails and toes away from the breaks.  I get another landing I can be happy about, and Andy again says I am staying ahead of the airplane much better.

Checking for Atomic Bombs?
We parked in front of the customs "office," opened the canopies, released our seat-belts, and waited for the agent to come out to come meet us.  Eventually an ominous SUV pulled up on the other side of the fence and an Agent exited the vehicle.  He let us climb out while he interviewed us.

Then he got out his Geiger counter.  That struck me as really odd, but Andy had warned me that it would happen.  Since the older instruments are painted with "glow in the dark" radium paint, the geiger counter started squawking and squealing as soon as the agent got near the panel.  He glanced over at Andy and me, and Andy just shrugged and said "radium painted gauges in the instrument panel."  The agent move the Geiger-Müller tube over the panel to verify Andy's report, gave us an all clear, and walked back into the office.

Andy walked to the pumps while I climbed in the plane and went through the start-up checklist for the short taxi it to the fuel pumps.

Part of our reasoning for not refueling in Kamloops is that aviation fuel is generally more expensive in Canada than it is in the U.S.  Aside from being paid for in Canadian Dollars, it is dispensed in liters, pushing my limited brain to do two conversions in order to come up with the equivalent price.  But recently I discovered that SkyVector does these conversion for me automatically. Just click layers, select the FBO tab, check the type of fuel, currency, and units of measure.

Make your Flight Plan at

Had we used it, we would have seen that gas was a dollar less expensive per gallon in Kamloops than it was in Oroville. Pretty cool.

Oroville WA to Bend OR

After refilling the plane we saddled back up and snaked the big SNJ down the narrow taxiway that was clearly made for planes the size of a Piper Cub to the south end of the runway.  I lined up the plane with the runway and pushed the manifold pressure back up to 30 inches.  As the tail lifted, again I held it just low enough so I could see the end of the runway over engine and we smoothly departed back to the north.  I retracted the gear and made a climbing 180 degree left turn back to the south, called up Air Traffic Control (ATC) for flight following, and continued to reach for cooler air above.

Crossing from WA to OR
We had been in straight and level cruise for a while when ATC came over the radio to advise us that Military Operation Area (MOA) we were flying in was "Hot," or in use, and we were sharing the airspace with some F-18's who were aware of our presence.  At 10,500 feet I was just above the bottom of the MOA airspace.  I offered to let the F-18's practice their intercept skills on us, but got no joy.

straight line to Bend
We continued straight and level south paralleling the Columbia River as it passed through Wenatchee WA, and then crossing over it on our way south past Ellensburg and Yakima.  Soon we were crossing the Columbia for a second time as we flew into Oregon.  Wind turbines were visible on the mesa above the river.

I had flown into Sunriver Resort in several times, but I had somehow overlooked how close it was to the cluster of airports including Madras, Bend, and Redmond.  We landed in Bend to refuel the airplane.

Due to some technical issues at work, I had several messages on my cell phone.  I attended to these while Andy refueled and oiled the airplane.

Bend OR to Lincoln CA

Our stop in Bend was just brief enough to resupply the plane.  Andy and I snacked on some protein bars, and re-hydrated before pointing the plane south again and picking up flight following from ATC.

Volcanic cone and crater
I had not flown south of Sunriver in eastern Oregon, and I am disappointed I had not done so sooner.  All across the terrain is evidence of the Pacific Northwest's volcanic history.  Everywhere you look are volcanic cones, craters, or lava flows.  It was totally fascinating to me.  I need to go back.

The air grew warmer and I was down to just a t-shirt under my unzipped flight suit, and the canopy was slid open in flight even against the added noise.  Andy and I cruised along straight line south towards Sacramento.

Near the Oregon - California border
We approached the Oregon-California border and the Goose North MOA as we continued south towards Lincoln.  I checked if the MOA was active and the controller responded that it was not.  Andy and I discussed the persistent Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) around Beale Air Force Base, and how we may have to navigate around it.  As we continued south, ATC queried us about our knowledge of the TFR ahead.

I asked if he was referring to the one at Beale and ATC said that the Beale TFR was not active but indicated there was a second TFR closer to us due to a forest fire.  He had us stay at 10,500 feet as we passed through it while the fire-fighting helicopters hugged the terrain far below.  Not long after that we were cleared to start our descent.

ATC cleared us through Beale's airspace as we descended and maneuvered for a long straight in at the Lincoln Airport.  Andy pointed out a cluster of structures to the east of Beale's runway, and mentioned they were some sort of space communication something or other.  We were headed straight for them.  ATC had us turn about 20 degrees right so we would pass north of them as we lined up on the runway.

I was feeling pretty confident from my previous couple of landings, and as soon as the main wheels touched down, I pulled the stick back to pin the tail wheel on the ground.  But my airspeed was still a bit high, so the plane ballooned up off the runway, and I fought the stick for a hard "thump" back down on the ground.  "Pride cometh before a fall."  Every time.

The sun is setting on another adventure.
We were greeted by several of Andy's social circle who were happy to see his return to Lincoln.  We refueled the plane.  One of those who greeted us was representative for the local paper, Melissa, who was there to get Adventure Flight's ad published in the paper.  Andy pointed out the hangar, told me to bring the plane over, and he would walk over and open it up.  I offered Melissa a ride in the back seat as I taxied back, and she eagerly accepted.

We spent the next couple hours unpacking and sorting our gear from the plane, and tucking the SNJ into the hangar with its stable-mates.  I booked a flight home for the next morning.

That evening Andy and I enjoyed a hearty meal at a local Lincoln Pizza Parlor.

Epilogue and photos

A little over 16 hours in the plane, 15 landings, Four U,S, States, Two Provinces, Two countries, and a great adventure with a really good co-pilot.

See all the photos here:
See all the photos here