Desert Flight Salvaged, part II (it is FOLLOWED, by part I)

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Dave Krall CFII, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    Dave Krall CFII SEL SES, Cmcl HELI
    Couldn't get it transferred the way I wanted in the new thread so posted part III here for now:

    Desert Flight Salvaged pt III followed by pts II & I ,books.

    ~LAZY, HAZY, DAZY DAYS ON SUMMER BEACHES~

    Summer weather held strong with sun and my student and I landed on our own USA's ocean beach sand so we could not only temper the heat while taking a break from flying maneuvers in our rented SkyHawk but, also get her caught up on some ground instruction in my net tent pitched under its wing in the sand. Our ground lesson was progressing nicely, being surrounded by fresh, salty sea breeze and summer sunshine and the wet sand was getting quite warm as the tide continued to rise. After a while, a guy came walking towards our netting wall which was facing the blue green and white breakers in full view -somehow in the concentration of our lesson we hadn't even heard the C150 flying overhead for landing.

    "Do you know where I can get a tow?"
    "What's the problem?"

    "Had a hard landing and my nose gear's collapsed…. I don't know what happened....."
    "See that five foot layer of water vapor coming off the warming sand like steam fog?" I asked.

    "Ahh…. yeah…."
    "That's providing the haze illusion, making your landing surface look farther away than it really is, since the human eye automatically focuses on infinity in haze. Were you using full flaps?"

    "I always use 20 degrees of flaps on landing so if I forget to retract them on a go-around my plane will still climb."
    "Your operator's manual calls for FULL FLAPS for a soft field landing."

    "I've always used 20 degrees...."

    It is of course always the PIC's responsibility to make sure to retract flaps as needed for a go-around or other reason, as needed for that case. Getting into the one-size-fits-all habit is often not at all good for flying. If the PIC had been really on top of his landing while in haze effect illusion, probably the 20 degrees wouldn't have mattered enough to descend so fast as to collapse the gear but, the combination of the two factors at the same time was not so forgiving.

    We resumed our ground activities at an increased rate to make up for the lost time and about a half hour later, saw the PIC riding on his bent plane's horizontal stabilizer to teeter-totter the gnarled nose wheel up off the sand while a small 4X4 towed him along the extra long mile of ground foggy sand to the beach road access, for later trailering back to his FBO.

    A few years before that, I inspected a VERY sandy SkyLane on a trailer at our club/FBO with its wings off and the nose strut and wheel jammed clear up through the engine compartment. It had "landed" on the same beach with 4 souls on board and nose-dove completely over onto its back. I don't know what landing configuration was used or the surface visibility or illusions state was but, SkyLane's are always nose heavy on landing and require extra diligence on soft surfaces of any kind for safe touch downs.

    The many different Haze Illusions and, the illusion-of-haze illusions, are particularly prevalent in the seaplane environment both on the waters and the beaches or runways. A whole paper could be written on their often deadly variants alone. One such variant occurs most often in desert regions well away from ocean moisture. Especially at night with the landing lights on, an artificially induced haze illusion often occurs and even runway edge lights can induce it or add to it, especially on dry dirt/sand/gravel airstrips that have been used recently and the narrower the runway, especially less than 50 feet wide, the more likely runway edge lights will induce Haze Illusion. The suspension of dust can last for many hours in no wind conditions and some wind may clear it or, just the right amount of wind will kick up enough to maintain the dust, particularly in the desert where all surrounding quadrants are constantly supplying light, desert-dry dust.

    Not visible when doing a low, night over flight of these runways, the above phenomena can range from subtle through severe and, both Haze Illusion techniques and precautions are appropriate in any of these conditions, which will make the runway appear farther away than it actually is, due to the human eye focusing on infinity when in hazy conditions.

    In a few new students, minimally experienced pilots, and non-night current pilots, I've also seen evidence of the landing light BEAM ITSELF causing haze illusion effects in perfectly CLEAR, recently rain-washed air with no vapor. Each and every landing should always be approached on a case by case basis, and I prefer to prepare and practice for the unexpected so it is less surprising when non-standard conditions appear in flight.

    Another insidious, sneaky, back stabbing way haze illusion occurs to varying degrees, is when flying from dry conditions (or in any conditions when a normally effective defroster vent is temporarily switched off) and approaching a cool marine layer, especially at night:

    Particularly if there are a little bit of fine dust particles on the windshield acting as condensation nuclei for water vapor to condense around. The small area of windscreens that commonly curves down to provide enhanced side visibility is typically particularly prone to this condensation. Even though the outside air is perfectly clear, the haze illusion can in such a way be fully present however, outside the aircraft, additional meteorological haze will synergistically exacerbate the phenomenon.

    Often not looking out the windshield much, this slowly forming windshield "haze" and the varying illusions it causes can be even worse for IMC pilots transitioning to VMC just prior to touchdown but, should be kept in mind at all times by any type of pilot.


    DESERT FLIGHT SALVAGED, part II
    (it is FOLLOWED, by part I, newly edited)

    ~FRIENDLY CANUCK BEACHES~

    A few days later the fires were still raging in the dry country to the east, so we got some new charts from VIP Canada, some local airman's intel from friendly Canucks, called flight service & customs, then launched in MVFR for the border. Whidbey Approach formally handed us over to Victoria Approach for a descent into Nanaimo Customs. No probs even for bear spray and guns (firearms must now be registered).

    Took off under the rainless scud which covered the mountains to over 10,000 feet MSL and flew under it just over the tree tops of the Somerset Range and then snaked NW in exploration through the new terrain over many big lakes and small, eventually making a salt inlet to follow to the North Pacific. The Garmin GPS was helpful at times but not essential. A 1-2000 foot thick broken layer extended out over the ocean, but after shooting the traditional NDB into Tofino, we could see a 5-800 foot MVFR zone just above the water and low laying islands by the dozens. So we turned out to sea and NNW towards more islands & islettes.

    The tide was turning and we found some likely beaches that would be good for landing just before sundown. Returned to CYAZ in the national park for fuel but the manager/attendant (in Alberta) said over the phone that 6 AM to 6PM was better. So we killed some time watching a bear on the runway & some deer (fauna impressed even my South African flight student) while radioing some seaplanes we could hear making their way up & down the coast under or over the scud. They told us anything below the high tide line was available for legal landing in BC. Sounded good enough for me (too good to be true ?) so we took off again and found a nice big beach exposed from the two hours since high tide turned.

    Clouds everywhere, but days for us to kill and weather generally forecast to improve in the next 2 days. Found a hole down into the beach and touched softly and held off until certain it was firm, then let the SkyHawk settle & roll out directly up to almost the high tide line before the drier sand bogged it down. Faced the bird seaward into the twenty knot breeze by hand for the night & watched the tide continue going out, while scenting the fresh sea air (freshest in the world) its exquisite airborne saltiness laced ever so slightly only at one small point on our beach, with the wood smoke from a single small campfire glowing on an island a few miles in the distance upwind and out to sea.

    No other light except the brightening stars through the now dissipating ceilings which gradually revealed all the constellations in detail around midnight. Stretching my legs on the sand under all the starlight, I continued flying along in unending apprehension through the universe while savoring one of my succulent, home grown cherry tomatoes wrapped in a baby spinach leaf grown from seed, both of which had evaded the earlier customs search (they're both illegal to transport into BC). I pleasantly recalled the sundown beachcomb that had yielded raven squawks, loping sea otter and wolf tracks, and a brief brush with a beach badger, confirming some of the pictures we'd seen at the Tofino golf course. Not far into the darkness of the dense woods beyond the beach grass a wolf huffed once then, howled loudly in the night and I heard the badger growl as I shut my eyes for some sleep that never really came.

    Next day we were enveloped in most vile, thicke and stinking fogges, as Magellan used to observe and write of this coast as its fogs regularly placed his ship in grave peril. Even though my years living at my sailboat rental in northern Oregon consistantly showed Sept. & Oct. to be fantastic months for seashore weather still, fog and clouds and rain are never a surprise here. Foglifter coffee brewed strong and sipped hot and black by the pot over the DragonFly burning 100LL had no effect on the 1500 foot layer of unbroken fog that was ouir ceiling, but tasted particularly exceptional out in the cool of the open sands and air. What a fantastic flight it had been, and look were we were! Even the scuffling beach badger made another quick round of her territory.

    Another beachcomb through some large, sea-washed sea otter middens glistening with polished agates and pearly white shells and their fragments worn smoothe by the steady sea into all kinds of spiraling forms, and some more PIXs & we could stay, but were ready to go. I'd charted an instrument departure on the approach last evening and after digging 3 taxi trenches with driftwood to get started we blasted our wheels free at full power. We then rolled slowly along just above idle the length of the beachstrip in swirling fog with the tide all out. A fog hole was actually developing over the beach as well. Still only a few hours fuel under gross we lauched easily up through it and got on top no prob.

    In the "pattern" I saw the foghole opening more in the breeze and dipped a wing into a banking descent for another landing captured on video followed by takeoff & return to Tofino for fuel. Bought a calculated minimum of 35 liters of the precious stuff (I heard we get 80% of our oil products from Canada !) which got us back to BFI with an hour reserve after a climb to over 8K to get on top of the clouds covering all of the magnificent Vancouver Island. BFI was about 3000 overcast, but improved to almost clear within an hour after we landed.

    Cleared the nuisance that is called Customs, got home, & THEN started to relax and really enjoy the flight !


    DESERT FLIGHT SALVAGED, part I, with new edits:

    ~FLYING THROUGH A NORTH CASCADES PASS ONCE MORE~

    Have been trying to fly over the North Cascades and out into the desert for a few weeks now and the continuing forest fire TFRs on my route did not abate at all recently, as our coastal rains did not make it over the mountains to put them out. Over 100,000 acres are burning in the worst fire, with 3 others nearby, generating IMC regularly and generally far less than ideal MVFR the rest of the time. The massive forests on fire often smell pleasingly like a distant campfire from the cold air aloft but this year's smoke is acrid with the punky, rotten wood and bodies smoldering in thousands of acres infested with pine beetles. We could fly over the top of the highest TFRs at 11,000 and get business done in town, then back through one of the mountain passes before sundown and into Seattle if the ceilings held. Icing in IMC was predictable with the freezing level at our Victor Airways' altitudes.

    So, I realize I'll probably cancel the desert trip again for ice and fire but, call my safety pilot anyway for some flying recon, at least. Always the type to maximize total mission benefits, I also call one of my flight students to ride shotgun and camera, encouraging mom who's visiting the student from South Afrika to come along as well. It's nice, sunny WX when we taxi past the new Boeing Super Guppy that's just in from Taipae, sitting on the Bravo taxiway with the other huge tails straight up in the air on ships from around the World. We launch off of Boeing Field, the heat of the city raising the ceilings nicely for some good views of the city, so the mission's a partial success already.

    We fly low and as fast as it will go to the NE snapping a few PIX of the MSFTopolis, just under the clouds that get lower and start bouncing us around in light rain as we get into the cooler countryside which also rises up to meet the thickening cloud bases in places. I'm generally on the heading for the desert and there's one leeettle blue hole up in the sky between some 6000 foot peaks that line two valleys in front of us. My safety pilot asks,
    "Where we goin'?" as he looks at the scud closing in on the sides and in front of us.
    "Up there."
    I point to the little speck of wild blue-yonder. That's where we'd go if we really wanted to get above this stuff where it's clear, then head over the top and then down into the smokes as usual.

    By now we're snaking through the etherial cloud wisps, up against emerald green slopes and purplish hazed granite cliffs and peaks. I take over flying from my safety pilot and head up a narrow valley route which I've used for this scenario over a hundred times. One rear seat PAX is snapping PIX while the 74 year old grandmom seems too be taking it all in. We turn back 180 from one valley when the scud goes to total IFR ahead. Backing up aways we tool around awhile where there's a little more breathing room and I then head back into and under the scud of a smaller valley that is headed in our general direction.

    A small glacier appears shinning and fractured with crevasses just below us, and alongside on the gray cliffs a couple of luxurious white mountain goats (really a type of antelope) sure-footedly leaping in their fluffy winter coats, appear for only a few fleeting seconds. We bank and turn constantly through the wiggley wisps in intermittent light rain. "Should we tell them we're not going over the mountains to the desert?" my safety pilot asks.
    "No, let 'em sweat. They'll enjoy it more and it will mean more to them in the end." I briefly consider the benefits of even adding that 'we're lost' as I've convincingly done in the past (it never takes much, in fact usually I'm trying to convince PAX that we're NOT lost) but this time decide against it for some reason. Instead I'm blessed to gratefully taste again the cool, moist air living in these mountains -the freshest in the World- rather than smell and breathe a whole region's nasty funeral smokes composed of rotten trees, killed by now burning billions of barbequed pine beetles and enveloped in drifting borate bombs from the Catalina, DC 6s and assorted fire-choppers including a Sky Crane and Chinook.

    We fly point turns just above a site on a rugged ridge where a friend had done some helicopter logging a few years back, the under growth has filled in nicely and soon there will be little trace to the casual observer from the air. I finally spot his cabin in the temperate jungle, barely visible alongside an old mine shaft opening and the thread that is an ancient oxcart and skid road going straight up the steep slope until the rain-soaked ferns and silver trunked alders close in upon it and eventually obliterate it from our aerial view. The engine mixture's been leaned out for some time now in the high, moist, mountain air and my safety pilot richens it up for me as I do a mild canyon turn and dive down into a creek bed to follow it downstream with the treetops blurring abeam. The crick bed widens to a river that will be our meandering runway should anything untoward occur or, the safety net of thick alder tops on either side... choices, choices.

    The thin, muddy brown of an old logging road appears sporadically winding alongside the rapids and it crosses over tiny narrow bridges a few times as the rushing flow builds to become a raging river when that side's steep granite becomes too formidable even for massive amounts of TNT and labor. We fly low and full speed under the scrud and over thousands of wisps of radiation fog or upslope fog or whatever it's called for a while, then climb up about a thousand in a larger valley where the ceilings become conveniently higher. I pull up alongside some massive dark cliffs, their tops obscured by clouds, just as they were when we flew through here in the other direction about 45 minutes earlier.

    I'm looking again for a ragged ravine, flying through which will yield a cedar and heather trimmed alpine cirque and its crystal clear lake, at once both mirroring and forming the pretty picture. A rich ivory veil rolls gently in constant motion just over the ravine, and we will not be seeing its inner beauty on this flight. So instead I fly alongside the face of the eastern mountains that form the now widening valley, close enough to the slope to make the PAX wonder if the right wing will hit some of the nearly endless points of green that carpet the slopes but, this time they don't actually ask. Another particularly long, wispy veil appears. This time I do a left point turn on it for PIX because it is not another cloud but a long and undulating cascade of slender, liquid lace, shimmering softly into a pure pool of icy water from the glaciers and slopes fresh with the first light snowfall, trimmed sparingly with brilliant scarlet maple leaves that are bright with floating spray and accented with fleeting, miniature spectral bands of colors on each turn.

    It is picturesque I'd say, so reversing the point turn, plant the scene steady as she goes under the middle of the starboard wingtip while everything else whirls around it. I point below to turn heads away and surreptitiously scarf from my pocket, a freshly picked cherry tomato which bursts warm in tastes both sweet and slightly tangy -it has been flown in here at considerable expense for my lunch. It is paired with the spoils from summer's long battles with bands of bold, citified raccoons just barely held at bay with everything from chicken wire and re-bar encapsulations to multiple varities of electronic counter measures to anticipatory grasps of my spear. It is no less than the very last, small ear of sweetcorn from the patch waiting to be next, a few bites of juicy light yellow and white kernals are eaten raw then re-wrapped in their own husk to be finished later, at which point the flag should be lowered to half mast.

    Pointing below to the falls and making the shutter snapping sign with one hand to my PAX, one of which acknowledges but plainly shows there will be no more pictures taken by her right now. What could be viewed as miserly hoarding of the small ear of corn and few cherry tomatoes by me turns to benevolence as clearly, food should be far from passengers' thoughts at this point in the series of tight, aerial circuits. Granted, it can look unsettlingly wierd when the ground starts wheeling around the opposite way through the viewfinder in those point turns, so we mercifully plot a course under the scud and west to Seattle, waiting long enough for our position report call to BFI so that the most convenient clearance for them will be to vector us over downtown and the football stadium on final.

    The diametrically opposed change in scenery and straight, sea level flight revives one PAX and my safety pilot (both of which keep returning to fly with me after nearly a decade) and the PIX resume with vivid steel and glass skyscrapers indeed appearing try to scrape us from their sky. I let my safety pilot take the rugged Sk'awk's yoke, he calls to dump in all flaps, and then handily bounce us in for landings on 13L at just under full gross for both our practice, and to successfully end another fantastic flight into the mountains that I'm fortunate to call my back yard, one more time.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2013
  2. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    3Green
    Wow, Dave, you can really write!! Thanks for sharing, and for the well-composed word pictures ("rather than smell and breathe a whole region's nasty funeral smokes composed of rotten trees, killed by now burning billions of barbequed pine beetles and enveloped in drifting borate bombs", and "rather than smell and breathe a whole region's nasty funeral smokes composed of rotten trees, killed by now burning billions of barbequed pine beetles and enveloped in drifting borate bombs", among others).

    When do we get to see pictures/video?
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2006
  3. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    Thanks Troy, glad to provide something decent to read!
    BTW: Did I repeat myself as above or did you?
     
  4. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I was just quoting some parts I thought were very well composed.
     
  5. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    What I meant was, it looks like you quoted the same passage twice instead of the other one that you were thinking of but then again with the holiday cheer flowing freely, I may be seeing double! Thanks Again.
     
  6. TangoWhiskey

    TangoWhiskey Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Whoops, I guess it was MY holiday cheer flowing a little freely! :)

    "I finally spot his cabin in the temperate jungle, bearly visible alongside an old mine shaft opening and the thread that is an ancient oxcart and skid road going straight up the steep slope until the rain-soaked ferns and silver trunked alders close in upon it and eventually obliterate it from our aerial view."

    I think you meant "barely", but since you were flying in the mountains, "bearly visible" works, too.
     
    Dave Krall CFII likes this.
  7. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    You are correct , either way! Tks for the proof read, I wish spell check was on this PoA -or is it? Wouldn't have caught that one anyway I guess.

    As for videos, I've a metric ton of them and they're amazing but, don't have any SuperNerds available right now to make the films go into the computer box for me.
     
  8. Richard

    Richard Final Approach

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    Ack...city life
    Very good writing, Dave. You were definately in your zone when you wrote that, I enjoyed every bit of it. Thanks.
     
  9. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    [​IMG] September 17th, 2006, 09:07 PM Posted in reply to Dave Krall CFII's post "Desert Flight Salvaged..."
    #2 Grant Prellwitz [​IMG]
    (User ID: gprellwitz)

    Touchdown! Greaser!

    [​IMG]

    Join Date: Jun 2005
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    Re: Desert Flight Salvaged...
    Okay Dave, I now dub you a PROFESSIONAL WRITER! That was Great! Reminds me of a couple of novels I read about New Zealand flying last year.
    __________________
    Grant Prellwitz
    PP-ASEL-IA, AGI & IGI
    ASNV 1C5 (Bolingbrook's Clow, IL)
    Lifeline Pilot volunteer pilot
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gprellwitz
    Okay Dave, I now dub you a PROFESSIONAL WRITER! That was Great! Reminds me of a couple of novels I read about New Zealand flying last year.

    Thanks Man,
    Too bad I used up damn near all the words I know on that one...


    Thank you all very much, glad you enjoyed them.

    Couldn't get it transferred the way I wanted in the new thread so posted part III here (ABOVE) for now:
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2013
  10. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    Finally in a SWZR 300 cruising at treetop level, ~4000 msl on a timbered ridge with a small lush green grassy clearing, saw an actual small bear barely visible while sitting on its haunches. Thought it might be a black trash bag left by litterbug scum until we made another low pass and it was gone.