A much better day of flying today than we experienced yesterday. We left Vancouver Pearson this morning after waiting once again for the weather to clear, which it did quickly. It was still quite hazy and humid as we made our way northward, but the big problem once again was the wind.
We had hoped to make Snohomish Harvie Field in one long hop of about 2.5 hours, but with the wind at sometimes 25 mph on the nose, it was pretty clear that wasn’t going to happen.
We decided to land at Centralia-Chehalis airport for some gas. We topped off and were soon on our way into some of the busiest airspace in this part of the world. And busy it was. We had to avoid a military operational area south of Seattle, then enter the Mode C veil surrounding SeaTac airport and make our way up the east side of Seattle’s airspace.
My radio was acting up the whole time, too, just like it did yesterday in Portland. For some infuriating reason whenever I get over a large urban area my radio becomes nearly unreadable. I was able to hear the tower just fine, but they couldn’t get any readable transmission from me. Absolutely maddening!
The controller was a really good fellow, though, and allowed me to acknowledge his transmissions by squawking my ident. I think the problem has something to do with the intense concentration of other radio signals in these urban areas.
At one point the controller called out some traffic of a Canadair Challenger whose call sign was Flight Check. He was 5 miles west of us at our altitude. I think these are the planes the FAA uses to check the calibration of the nav aids around airports on a regular basis. Transport Canada does the same thing. The Challenger reported he had us in sight, then proceeded to buzz us! He passed so close behind us that Geoff and I took evasive action to avoid this asshole. If he missed us by 200 feet, I’d be surprised.
We continued up the east side of Seattle fighting the turbulence from the afternoon heat and trying to stay within our altitude bracket until after an hour of transiting over the surrounding suburbs of Seattle, we were finally able to sight Harvie Field and begin our descent.
The whole time we were in the Seattle area Geoff stuck to my wing like glue. He reported afterwards that our formation flying was the most intense hour of flying he’d ever done. We didn’t want to get separated and have to find each other with a bad radio in controlled airspace.
After dinner we popped over to Paine Field here in Everett and poked around for a few minutes. We looked at several huge Boeings under construction or re-fit of some sort. We were right up close to 767s, 777s, 747s, and, of course, the brand new 787. Very cool.
Tomorrow we’re going to more fully explore Paine Field, Boeing Field in Seattle, and the Museum of Flight. We’re going to have dinner in downtown somewhere and then head out to Castlegar on Friday morning to see my Dad.
Today’s photos show the Cub that followed us from Roseburg yesterday; Geoff flying in the hazy morning northbound out of Portland; downtown Seattle; downtown Renton; a Beaver with tundra tires on Harvie Field; a KLM 777 on the ramp at Paine.
More news on Friday.