Dust-Up 2024

Ephrata Dust-Up Report

Here are a few highlights, as best I can remember at what seems like this late date following a whirlwind of a weekend (figuratively speaking, that is):

  • The quash on tent/outside camping at the airport apparently did nothing to reduce participation; all 37 registered glider pilots showed up and apparently found places to stay.
  • The Evergreen Pawnee tow pilot Tim Tanner, seeing the same IFR conditions over the Cascades that killed an Ephrata-bound aerobatic scud runner just a few days before, had to fly the Pawnee from Arlington (WA) to Troutdale, up the Gorge to Hood River, then direct to Ephrata—a four-hour trip instead of the expected 90 minutes.
  • Soaring conditions were relatively weak all three days, although that did not slow down operations at all. The ground crew was kept very busy all afternoon all three days, even though the longest flight might have been two hours, and I doubt anyone got as far away as Mansfield.
  • Evergreen, Willamette Valley, and Noel Wade were running the checkout mill—area familiarization flights in Grob 103’s, Blaniks, DG1000, and Duo Discus. HRS instead brought the main tow pilot (Jonathan), three youth members (Andrea, Mathias, and Kylan), the chief cook (Candida), and the ops manager (yours truly). So it was not the best weekend for the experienced guys but very valuable as an introduction to Ephrata operations and flights. Everyone except HRS that was conspicuously absent from the registration list should now have many more regulars headed off to do Silver and Gold Distance flights later in the summer. Then again, the average age of active pilots in those groups is probably 68, while ours is about 17…
  • Candida cooked meals for our group plus the tow pilots each day.
  • Kylan, Andrea, and Mathias all got area checkouts with Evergreen & WVSC pilots & Noel Wade.
  • Mike Bamberg connected me with the Civil Air Patrol local leadership, and there is a good possibility that they may allow us to use their bunkhouse for juniors and chaperones during the cross-country camp. It turns out that the CAP actually flies in Ephrata, unlike the locals at Hood River, where juniors have to come to us if they actually want to fly.
  • Andrea, Mathias, and Kylan all got 05:30 wakeup shakes of their tents at the campground eight miles from the airport when Candida and I arrived by bicycle each morning. I heard lots of groaning from inside the tents, but not much else.
  • Evergreen’s one junior member Annika (not sure of last name), at 16 years of age, intends to join us at the XC camp in July. I also got calls from a WVSC junior student pilot, a PPG junior in Virginia and a 24-year-old marine aviator in Pensacola that both plan to attend the camp. And we may have one or more from Michigan or other points east. It looks like we will have more from outside HRS than we do HRS juniors—a total of nine now but possibility of something like 15 junior attendees. This is turning the national soaring spotlight on Ephrata, the SGC, and particularly Hood River Soaring. The SSA has already tentatively approved a repeat XC camp in Ephrata for next year!
  • Andrea got a new nickname Mapache/Racoon when she removed her sunglasses after her long hot hatless day in the sun on the flight line.
  • I got to make the trip up and back twice:
    • HR → Ephrata Friday afternoon with Andrea
    • Ephrata → HR solo to fetch Kylan when he got off work Saturday afternoon (you can ask him what the alternative was…)
    • HR → Ephrata with Kylan that afternoon. This was quite a sporty landing on 29 with wind at 20 gusting 30 from 27—wait, 28, wait, 31 (“uh-oh, says Kylan”)—with my toebrake-less Ximango that eventually required Kylan to run the wing so I could actually taxi to parking.
    • Ephrata → HR with Candida (her first flight in the Ximango and my first flight with her!) very early Tuesday morning while Jonathan drove the juniors back home. We were all too tired Monday night to be safe flying—or even driving—home when launch operations—run principally by Andrea, Kylan, Mathias, and me—ran nonstop from noon to 17:45 with a launch on average every nine minutes.
  • Jonathan headed back to Ephrata in the 150 yesterday by way of Wilbur, Davenport, and Sandpoint (yes—it is out of the way, but not if you are doing your 250-nm solo flight in preparation for commercial power checkride), including riding the wave from 3500 to 7500 over Goldendale and then filing an  IFR flight plan to fly—for the first time in actual IFR and solo—through the clouds between Goldendale and points northeast. He continues as the chief tow pilot for the rest of the Evergreen encampment and for Tony Wiederkehr’s New York group encampment at Ephrata next week, then back here for two weeks to study for commercial & CFI/CFIG checkrides, then back to Ephrata as chief tow pilot for the Region 8 contest the last week of June and its back-to-back event the XC junior camp the first week of July. And he even collected a souvenir:

Hmmm, I know nothing about this...

Jonathan in Ephrata w/souvenir
What runway light?!?