Motorglider Musings

Motorglider Musings

Sorry…no pictures today; I was too busy flying, so you will have to take my word for it that it was a gorgeous day to fly, if not to soar. But I have to start with the back story.

I had my first towered-airport opportunities Friday when Jonathan and I flew out to Yakima and Tri-Cities, and I did all the talking (imagine that!). So I got to use that “Yakima tower, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, transponder negative”—just like Vanessa told those of us that were at the WVSC safety meeting last weekend. There is no time like right away to put these things into practice (and practice I did; I probably repeated that all 20 times to Jonathan before we actually got within 10 miles of Yakima airspace).

Then yesterday, I gave Oliver a short ride in the Ximango around the end of the ridge, up the back side of the ridge (a surprisingly good place to be on an east-wind day), then over Hanel Mill to the lava flow and back to the airport. I landed Rwy 7, only to realize just as I rolled past the gliderport that there was Mark waiting for Oliver. So then the Ximango’s enormous vertical stabilizer gave Stan and Mark a workout helping turn it around in the crosswind to deliver Oliver.

After that, while I was tying down the Ximango yesterday, a straight-tail Bonanza pulled in and tied down immediately across from the Ximango. Within a couple of minutes, I had found that visiting pilot Mark Mathis with Kim and son Trevor had just arrived from Fremont via Salem and needed to find a place to stay for the night. So I hauled them down to the Best Western and agreed to pick them up again at 09:00 this morning and give them a tour of WAAAM, just before I took off again in the Ximango. A couple of calls later, and I had Greg Traeger on the hook to occupy the Ximango’s right seat and Mark Johnson and his 140 on the hook with Mathias Payne in his right seat for a 10:00 formation flight to Madras.

So up early we were again this morning and back to Hood River. It is quite something touring WAAAM with an automotive mechanical engineer pilot such as Mark; every plane—and car—was a stopping place for a discussion about “that’s an in-line six inverted” and “rotary engines were just huge gyroscopes out front that made the planes impossible to fly”. Terry joined us, and listening to those two engage in an extended techno-babble discussion was a treat, even though mostly over my head.

And then, after seeing Mark & family off to Mt. St. Helens en route back to Fremont at their 200 knots in their Bonanza, Greg & I climbed into the Ximango and followed Mark Johson & Mathias down to Madras. Our “formation” did not exactly work when we go separated over the ridge and spent most of the way to Madras talking to each other and trying to see each other out there somewhere. In the end, they landed five miles ahead of us, so we did not really connect until we were on the ground at Madras (ask me how I know where the grass runway is now). Then we had a nice visit with local pilot Darryl—who had seven hours’ glider time in Bend some years ago—and his son at Madras before we headed out again.

Mark & Mathias headed back to Hood River, while Greg and I headed to Condon on the way back. Condon is kind of way out there, and with a runway only three feet wider than my wingspan, it was a bit narrower than many and gave me a couple of surprises.  But after a somewhat colorful touch-n-go, we were headed back to Hood River by way of Lookout Mountain and a (mostly) idling return from Lookout to the airport. Then I got to see what it is like sequencing in behind some Cessna that did a midfield crossing from the south into a teardrop that went all the way to the river at pattern altitude then into left downwind for 7 that seemed to go halfway to Mt. Defiance before turning base. Good thing I had a motorglider this day!

It was a great way to spend almost three hours in the air on such a beautiful day. There was no soaring to speak of, but it provided some great opportunities to explore areas a little farther afield, and as always, a lot learned. And I think Mathias even got a bit of simulated IFR toward his instrument hours with Mark as his safety pilot on their way back.

Looking forward to more Hood River flight in the coming weeks

ximango motorglider
Yakima airport
Yakima Airport looking (roughly) north
Lookout Mountain near Hood River, OR
Lookout Mtn
Google Earth, upper Hood River Valley
Mt Hood, Lookout Mtn & lava flow