GPS Installed

On the flight home from Indus, I mounted the GPS on top of the dash with one of the mounts it came with, but it was designed to be a flight-yoke clamp, and stuck pretty much right in my face for the whole trip.  Not a great location if I had a rough landing, groundloop etc.

Today, the plan was two-fold;  first get the dash-mount installed for the GPS, and second, get the new radio installed in the dash.

The new radio is a nice microair 2-1/4″ in-dash, so I sacrificed (temporarily) the compass and got it installed in it’s place.  The compass moved up to the front cockpit (I need to add basic instruments up there anyway).

The transponder mount went in ok as well, but I will need to redo the entire dash in the future to better allocate space.

Fuel Stick

I had a nice new fuel stick from the seller, but he only put a single calibration mark on it, so the grand plan today was to drain the fuel and as we re-filled the tanks, mark off the fuel stick in even increments.  This took way longer than planned, as the only way to drain the main tank was to use the fuel check drain which just kinda dribbles out.

Anyway, after a few hours work, we now have a fuel stick calibrated for both the header and the wing tanks.


I decided that before I start taking folks up for flights, I really need to investigate the envelope a bit.  Today’s plan was to do simple straight ahead stalls…

The takeoff went well, and climbing out to the local west training area was smooth.  It felt great to get back in the cockpit again.  I set up for the first stall from 3000′ and it broke fairly gently straight ahead with just a slight wing drop.  I was trying to watch the ASI, but it was reading weird.  I repeated the stalls a couple more times and discovered ASI readings all over the place, as high as 65, and as low as 45.

Figuring I needed to get this checked out before I went too far, I headed back in and landed (still ballooning in the flare BTW).

Home at Last

Made it!

After spending an entire extra day in Merritt waiting for the winds to calm down, today seemed a bit better, and the Hope webcams showed enough of a break that we figured it was worth a shot (we could always abort back to Merritt if needed).

Departure was fine, we were able to get the 5500′ needed to cross the Coquihalla hump, but the clouds were lower than we liked.  Remaining VFR, we circled in the valley by the hump and discussed the options.  Gary elected to try first (he’s got a few more hours than I do) so he headed down the valley towards Hope.  He got about a mile in (to the first turn) and radioed that it was marginal, but VFR all the way to Hope.  I turned on a wing and blasted off after him.

Ceilings were lowering as we got half-way down the valley to Hope, and we were able to maintain VFR, but there wasn’t much room to turn around if things went bad in a hurry.  My biggest fright came when I rounded a corner, and like a tired idiot stuck my head outside of the windshield for a better look (rain was falling).  The windblast promptly caught my ballcap and headset and deposited them behind my back in the middle of the turn.  Fly the plane! rang true in my ears, after years of being taught that mantra, and in turn teaching it to each and every one of my students, it was never truer than today.  I finished the turn, locked the stick with my knees and fished the headset back out and onto my head.  I could hear Gary calling me (he hadn’t heard from me for a minute and was getting worried), so I assured him I was okay and would explain when we landed in Chilliwack.

After that, the ceilings opened up as Hope passed under our wings, so we beelined for Chilliwack.  To be honest, this was my best landing so far as I was too tired to over think it 🙂  We taxiied in and shut down by the diner and went inside for some pie (best pie in the world).

After the pie, we checked the weather which was improving rapidly this side of the hills. Unsure of the status of the transponder, we decided to don the PFDs in case Vancouver wouldn’t let us get 4500′ across the straight.  Plotting a low-level course through the various chunks of airspace on the lower mainland took some time, but with charts in hand and a programmed GPS, we fired up the planes.

Everything went well until we tried to call Vancouver asking for 4500′ across to Duncan.  As feared, they couldn’t see me and I got the dreaded “… remain clear of class C airspace …” transmission.  Stuck at 2000′ we departed White Rock direct for the south tip of Saturna Island (closest land).  Ceiling are now unlimited, and I was actually getting hot in the cockpit with my leather jacket etc on.  I made landfall well ahead of Gary (seems my engine likes the west coast air, it picked up a few knots across the straight), and I turned direct for Duncan.

We had planned in Chilliwack that I would take a stab at landing here, but if I felt I couldn’t get down, I’d divert to Nanaimo and bring it home another day.  Again, quite tired, I set up my circuit and even though I used up more runway than needed, I got it down, and taxiied to a parking spot.

All tied down, and covered up, we debriefed, put things away, and headed home.

Goodbye Salmon Arm

Checking out of the hotel this morning, the weather looked so-so, but we headed to the airport with high expectations.  As we loaded up the planes, I found a computer to check the weather and webcams along our intended route.  The weather looked good for the first bit, but went downhill the nearer we got to Hope.  This is pretty typical in that area, all the moist air is getting pushed onshore and the valley that it all collects in is at Hope.

We decided to fly to Merritt as the skies were nice and clear that far at least.  Refueling of the birds underway, one last look at the oil hose and brakes, I felt good to go.  Another round of thank-you’s for all the the guys in Salmon Arm, and we took off on the next leg.  I kissed a runway light taxiing out, but the airport manager/operator told me not to worry about it…

We took off and headed west towards the Kamloops area, then joined the highway south towards Merritt.  I had noticed the winds were picking up before we left Salmon Arm, but nothing prepared me for what we found decending into Merritt.  I was getting kicked around quite a bit, but I was close to the valley wall, so I figured it would all even out over the airport.


I crossed midfield, and joined downwind for the obvious runway (windsock rigidly straight out).  Merritt is a wonderful place, all the air that gets funnelled into the valley by Hope, comes out here in Merritt 🙂  The landing was now typical for me (ballooning), and the added winds just made it a horrendous landing.  We found out later that the winds were gusting to 49kts.

After taxiing in to the pumps for a top-up (we had to actually lay on the wings while being fuelled), we got the planes tied down to wait out the winds.  It was clear after a couple of hours and a long talk with the guy who manages the field, that the winds weren’t going to let up enough for a safe departure, and the weather in Hope hadn’t improved anyway.  Off to another hotel for the night 🙁