Ocean Shores – the name looked pretty on the map and I wanted to see the pacific coast. Today the sky was blue and I went on the trip. 🙂 It was the first flight as a certified pilot and it was a real adventure! My flight planning was thorough as I learned it. Well I had no choice anyways since my airplane had no GPS, no fancy instruments, no board toilet or anything. Wings, compass, chart and clock is all that I need. 🙂
I took off at Paine field at 1655pm and enjoyed the flight. There is not a lot to say about the way there. The sky was blue and the air was calm. I had planned to get flight following for cruise but I thought it was so nice and calm I didn’t really want someone talking to me all the time. I had a flight plan filed anyways and had lots of time looking out to spot traffic. When I came close to Ocean Shore I saw the sea fog lying on the pacific. Like the weather briefer on the phone told me, the clouds didn’t reach the coast. They would move inland in two hours or so. I circled the field once to see the windsock and landed with a gusty left crosswind. I tied the plane down and wanted to go to the beach. I didn’t even get half way….
After 10 minutes walking the clouds started rolling over my head. The wind got stronger as well and I decided to leave right away. I went fast back to the plane, checked the fuel and began to untie the airplane. It must have looked funny when I had to keep the plane from rolling in the wind. I hopped in and hit the brakes. I thought let’s get out of here… the clouds didn’t look too bad. After all I could see blue skies all the time just five minutes away.
I fired up the engine and taxied to the run up area. But what the heck – deer on the runway! The animals were two wings to my right when I checked the engine. On the left magneto the whole airframe started shaking and the motor sputtered. Oh that was a great start, I thought. Clouds, wind, engine, deer – could it get even worse?! But hey stop… I learned something during a lesson with Isaac. If a spark plug is foul just go to cruise power and lean! After some minutes playing around with the engine the deer found it was too loud and went their way and the problem was fixed as well. Confident about the last events I lined up and applied power. I kept an eye on the engine gauges and listened to the motor while I started into the cross wind. The wind gusts often slowed the propeller momentarily down and every time I believed it was the engine sputtering. The adventure went on when I realized the clouds were lower than they looked like. For a short moment I was about to choose whether I wanted to stay in the pattern, land and stay overnight or if I wanted to go on. Well, I saw the blue sky just a few minutes ahead and you will see on the pictures that it was not that bad as it sounds like. I flew slower than normal, otherwise the situation would have been a bit overwhelming. By the way, when I think back I was lucky with the class echo airspace of the bigger airport to the east of Ocean Shore. Just when I entered that airspace I had blue skies over my head. In that moment my focus was only on staying out of clouds which was in retrospective right and wrong… (Was I a hazard for IFR traffic? Whether yes or no, I learned a lot for the next time…)
I applied full power and climbed up to cruise level. I finally had time to activate the flight plan and think about the next steps. Everything was great in the rest of the flight. I took a shortcut over a few mountain ridges and had a blast just flying by pilotage. No GPS, no fancy instruments. I was proud that I could fly without such aids but still knowing where I was at all times.
And there I was, flying into the sunset all by myself in this little airplane. Wow, I learned a lot in the past two months. Thank you Isaac!