I didn’t write yesterday because I didn’t think anyone would be interested in Geoff and I bopping around to air museums all day. Briefly, though, we saw some utterly astounding airplanes, including WWII fighters that are still actively flying. Contrast this with the most modern airplanes in the world in the form of Boeing 787s and 747s sitting, literally, right across the street from these icons. It was a remarkable day of contrasts, and it completely saturated us in aviation.
When we first started planning this trip last year, our idea was to fly from Seattle to Castlegar to spend some time with my dad before the last day of flying back to Kirkby Field. But the weather forecast for tomorrow indicated we could possibly be stranded in Castlegar due to the potential for low cloud that would prohibit us from getting over the surrounding high mountain passes and down into Cranbrook.
Thus, we decided to head straight for Sandpoint, Idaho. From there, the valleys are all low enough that we can more easily get through if the weather comes down a bit tomorrow.
As for this morning, we’d planned a nice early departure out of Snohomish Harvey Field, but the weather had other ideas. We sat and watched as a series of thunderstorms moved through going from southeast to northwest! I’ve never seen thunderstorms move in that way in my life.
After a 3-hour wait for the low ceilings and mist at Harvey to lift enough for us to depart, we headed for the Snoqualmie Pass along I-90 east of Seattle. We kept a sharp eye open for traffic heading in toward Arlington for the airshow.
The weather was marginal, and there were a few times I wondered if we’d have to turn around. But the Snoqualmie Pass is pretty low and the ceiling kept lifting and starting to break up in bits and pieces.
Finally, just a couple miles back from the pass, the weather cleared, just like that, and we were into clear blue sky with high clouds. It was quite a relief and beautiful to see. We were never in danger, but I would have turned around had the weather gotten any worse. It really paid off for us to wait it out for a while.
After about 2 hours of flying we landed in Ephrata, where it was blistering hot and utterly desolate. It’s truly a place in the middle of nowhere, and one I didn’t really mind. Geoff didn’t like it much, though.
I had to spend about half an hour fixing a minor electrical problem in the form of a blown fuse. It was only accessible after removing an access panel on the side of the plane. Of course, the tools and fuses are stored underneath all my luggage in the cargo bay.
It was an easy job to replace the fuse, but the heat made those 30 minutes go on for hours!
We left Ephrata and caught every thermal we could to get up out of the heat. We bounced around between five and six thousand feet, more or less at the whim of the afternoon heat, until we started into some more populated country northwest of Spokane.
It was stinking hot, 34 degrees, in fact, when we touched down at Sandpoint, but the assistant airport manager was there to welcome us and he even gave us a ride to our hotel. Terrific service.
We also talked with a guy who built a Murphy Moose on floats that he says burns about 20 gallons an hour! He asked me all sorts of questions about how to cross the border in an airplane because he wants to fly BC with his plane in August.
We logged a total of four flying hours today and anticipate a similar amount tomorrow to get home, maybe a bit less.
Here are today’s photos. They show Geoff and I waiting on the weather at Harvey Field; three photos showing the ceiling and visibility just after leaving Harvey field, at a place called Fall City, and as we climbed into the Snoqualmie Pass; me doing some field repairs in the baking hell that was Ephrata; and Lake Pend Orielle as we approached Sandpoint.
There’s a substantial thunderstorm north of here tonight. What worries me about it is that the lightning may spark off some fires that will block our way northward out of here tomorrow. We saw one fire north of Spokane today and there were aircraft working it. There’s normally a five mile exclusion zone around the fires. We had to deal with one on our way out of Redding last Friday.
We’re really looking forward to home, but with a mixture of regret, too. Hopefully, the weather will let us get there.
More news tomorrow, boys, hopefully from home!