Tuesday, September 30, 2008

But a Good Day For Us

When I saw the wreck being flown in to Palmer, I was on my way up the Knik... AGAIN... to meet my Uncle Don and his visiting pilot friend and passenger Pete. Don showed me a grass strip that I hadn't seen before - it's right by the river so I'll go back and check it out sometime... maybe next summer since it's supposed to snow here tomorrow.

Pete and Don took all of these.

Landing at the grass strip (it probably has some cooler name I don't know....)

Pete and me at the grass strip. I liked Pete - he really appreciated the views and experience. I've taken a few people flying that acted blasé about the experience - either because they really were unimpressed or because they were just too cool. On a day like this you'd have to be a zombie not to be impressed by the scenery, let alone the incredible fortune of being able to fly wherever you wanted in it. But Pete enjoyed it, didn't mind saying so and I really like that.

Pete wrote:
Hey Dave, It's Pete Wiens here. Thanks for your blog post and coming out to meet Don and me. Enjoyed our visit at the landing sight out by Lake George. Don was very generous in taking me up for the whole afternoon. Then he says he told his nephew Dave and he is coming to meet us, like he is next door walking over for a drink, when in actuality these two guys are flying airplanes from miles apart to land somewhere they haven't really committed to yet. We will just look around and find a place. Wow, I am amazed and love this whole culture of flying in the wilderness. The freedom / challenge of landing anywhere you dare and the element of discovering something new on every heading. Just you and your machine flying around the magnificent beauty of nature meeting a friend. You spot a place to land, you make a pass to asses it. As your climbing and turning back around you decide you're landing. On final, still looking for warnings, the trees rise above your wings, the horizon meets your wheels and you are on, your struts take a few solid compressions, absorbing the uneven surface of natures landing sight. Brakes come on, you're slowed and safe. You wheel the airplane around, kill the engine, and step onto what was once only seen from afar. The engine noise stops, and the scenery going by at a 100 mph has decelerated to a slow gaze across a magnificent landscape. A slight breeze brings the smell of clean air. with each step I feel my foot's contact, as if tasting the earths sweetness. I think, So this is it, Alaska, flying, friends-- Words can't really describe it.

These were my perceptions.
Many Thanks Don and Dave. it was awesome.

We took a little tour around the valley and then landed at the mud strip (by the canoe) again. We saw that Sharp-Shinned Hawk I saw last week too, but not as close as last time.

Yeah, Yeah it's beautiful.... :-)

Bad Day for Someone

Hard to see (click on the picture for a slightly better view), but this is a chopper bringing a wrecked Supercub back from the Knik River valley. I checked it out after they dropped it off, and it had been on its back, but really not too badly damaged.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Decompression Flight

I've been working very hard installing flooring for most of the last week and needed a break... So this sunny afternoon came at just the right time! I was really tired and almost just stayed home, but I figured I always felt better after a flight... so...

Just about 2 miles East of my house...

Headed up the Knik River

Bill's Island landing spot

Knik Glacier

I flew on up past the glacier to the lake and landed just to the North of the lake.

I watched a Sharp Shinned Hawk hunting for a few minutes. It was very cool - he flew just above the brush and did more flapping than soaring and worked back and forth low-level hunting. I got this photo from the net. I also emailed a falconer friend because the Birds of Alaska book says they go to 12 inches long but this one seemed much larger... more Raven sized. Maybe it was an illusion because he was close and the brush is relatively small.

10/5 - My friend replied: Sounds like a harrier hawk (sometimes called a marsh hawk or northern harrier) they fly pretty close to the ground 5' to 15' up with constant flapping. They fly pretty similar to the short eared owls you see up @ Alpine, almost hit the ground, flap bounce up, glide down, flap bounce up. About 4.5' wingspan raven size or a little bigger. They have the distinctive white patch just in front of the tail you mentioned.

So, I'm not sure what it is - maybe I can get a better look sometime.

Then I climbed up on the moraine. Here's the "obligatory airplane shot".

View of the lake. There's a canoe here, but I forgot to bring my life jacket. Plus going in that water alone, life jacket or not, might be a drag... A couple years ago, a friend told me he'd seen wolves killing a moose on this ridge so I flew over it the next day and saw 2 wolves but no moose.

"Obigatory airplane shot" with agitated guy wanting to land.... I thought he was just flying around until he began making low passes over my plane. I was parked in the way, which is definitely uncool, but I hadn't planned on walking so far from the plane. When I started to think that he wanted land, I ran back as fast as I could.

The guy made a real nice low speed approach - I was impressed. It was a 172 with a Horton leading edge and an O-320. When they landed, the pilot said he was "fuming" about me being in the way, but after I apologized profusely, told me some interesting stuff about flying Beavers and Norseman (both of which have ailerons that droop with the flaps like my Robertson STOL kit does). We hung around on the ground for an hour and kicked rocks off the strip.

Then I headed on home, back over the glacier...

coming into the sun by Metal Creek...

Enjoying the colors on the way home.

I made a great pavement landing back at Palmer. I'm finally getting them figured out, I think. I used to make them hot but would have directional control problems. Coming in slow with a low descent rate is working real good. They still aren't real short though. I did the math, and reducing the touchdown speed from 70 to 60 MPH reduces the energy by almost 30%. No wonder it's easier to keep it straight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Winter motorhome trip

We bought a motorhome in TX that we're going to keep in the Southern US for a winter getaway. Jake is blogging about the maiden voyage here: http://akearlsgoblog.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seward Saturday

Julie and the kids are still touring in the motorhome and I came home for a bit, so I went down to Seward today - just to take a ride and to meet some of our friends that were staying down there. I never did meet them though because I stopped in town for an overpriced lunch and then left in a hurry as the ceiling lowered. It didn't ever get that bad - In hindsight I could have stayed.

I first stopped in Hope to check out the strip improvements. Real nice, except I'm going to talk to the FAA about a 5 foot tall "1/2 Way" marker that is right next to the runway.

Coming out of Hope up the Resurrection trail it was pretty....

Coming into Quartz Creek. I stopped briefly here, too.

Nice day in Seward. No wind when I got there.

Coming into Devils Pass from Crescent Lake.. I saw a Black bear but lost it turning around for a better look.

Good thing I know the way through here!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Seldovia Trips

The kids and I have been to Seldovia a couple times this summer. Most of these photos are from yesterday, which was sunny warm and beautiful. They had a big thunderstorm in Palmer while we were gone but it was all cleared up by the time we got home.
We've been using our new 'spot' tracker that sends our location to a website every ten minutes. Theoretically, searchers should be able to pinpoint our location within 10 minutes if we disappear, but it's not actually quite that good - it doesn't always update every ten minutes and you can cover a lot of ground in a new direction in ten minutes. It should narrow down a search a lot though.
Coming out of Palmer over the 'Friday Fling' downtown

It was generally clear, but there were a few to dodge... We went down at 8500. I've been throttling back to 20 inches and 2200. I should be getting 10.5 GPH and am still going 125 MPH.

Seldovia slough. There were a lot of fish that a few kids and tourists were snagging.

After lunch (inside on a beautiful sunny warm day at Hanna's insistence...) We went for a walk on the dock - I forgot to ask Jake to take a picture but there were a lot of large lingcod on the dock. The fishermen said they'd been out 8 hours to get them though.
We walked down to a new spot we hadn't been before..

Which turned out to have a real nice little beach. We had a hard time convincing Hanna to leave but I was getting sunburned.

We ran into Lego photographer Zachary Smith shooting some of the local sealife.

We went and took a look at the Jakalof Bay strip which I'd never seen before. It looks fine but if departing to the E might require some planning... no photo of THAT either because I had Jake looking out for power lines, sorry. Coming back over the spit...

Intermittent rain on the way home but no problem. Halfway home I abandoned economy and ran it up to 140MPH :-) It still took 1.7 Hrs.