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More of the same

I've been with my current employer for some time. One consequence is that I earn a significant amount of PTO every year. I have to make sure I use it because I can carry only so much over to the next year. So I occasionally do what I did this week, which is to take one or two days off and just do other stuff. Of course, "other stuff" includes flying if the weather's nice. Yesterday the weather was lovely, so I headed out to the airport to exercise the plane. I didn't have any particular timetable or destination. I took my time with the preflight inspection and with putting gas in the tanks. Once I took off I made a trip around the pattern, then made an acceptable landing. The wind was a bit squirrely on the approach but I'm getting better at dealing with it. I took off again and headed north. I flew inland from the cost a ways, then decided, what the heck, I'll head out to the San Juan Islands again. I ended up flying a course similar to the one I followed
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Scheduling my first annual inspection

Ariel's last annual was performed on June 11 of last year. As I understand it, I have until the end of June this year to have the next annual performed and signed off. After June 30, if I haven't had this done yet, I can't fly the plane until I do. I'm still waiting for the shop at Harvey to have an opening to do the work that has been scheduled since I first purchased the plane. None of this work is required for airworthiness, so I've still been able to fly the plane while waiting. Well, there are a couple of things that are required if I want to fly at night, specifically replacing the landing light bulb and fixing the red cabin light (hopefully also just a bulb replacement). But I can fly during the day and I've been doing so about as often as I can. I spoke with the shop today and my annual is now scheduled. Unfortunately, the earliest they can get me in is the first full week of July, so there will be a few days where the plane will be out of annual and I w

The grand tour

(Note the lower case letters in the title. Please don't sue me Amazon. Thx!) The weather of late has been variable. Spring has sprung in the Pacific Northwest and with that comes weather that can vary widely from day to day. But today was pretty nice so I took Ariel up for the first time in almost two weeks. Today I flew a sort of grand tour of the San Juan Islands. Earlier flights had been to Friday Harbor and Orcas Island, but this one was basically a large loop over the islands while staying at altitude. There weren't any landings during the trip so, even though I flew a relatively large distance, it didn't qualify as a cross-country flight. I took off from Harvey Field and headed north. My route stayed over the mainland until I reached Chuckanut Bay south of Bellingham, and then turned east. In fact, the first part of the flight mirrored my earlier flight to Orcas Island. This time, however, I flew over Orcas Island, then headed south to Friday Harbor. Once I got there,

Knowing when to stay on the ground

This past Friday, the weather was nice enough to go flying. As my company has been giving us Friday afternoons off, I could have gone. However, I was feeling somewhat tired, and I examine what my motivation would have been had I gone. One of the aspects of owning and maintaining an airplane of that vintage is that you want to run the engine on a fairly regular basis. If you let it sit too long, moisture can make its way into the cylinders and cause some corrosion. Over the long term, it reduces the lifetime of the cylinders, and even the entire engine. So, something I've tried to do is fly the plane every couple of weeks or so. Friday, I realized that my main motivation was the obligation I felt to run the plane as often as I could. But I determined that it wasn't really enough of a reason to go absent any others. So I decided to stay home. I figured I'd fly it again in the next couple of weeks and that would be plenty soon enough. Yesterday, my wife became ill. We don'

Vacation days

I took Monday and Tuesday of this week off from work. I was going to do so regardless of the weather but it turned out to be absolutely gorgeous both days. So, I did what you would expect if you're reading this and I went flying both days. Monday's flight was a planned cross-country to Orcas Island. As with my flight to Friday Harbor the previous weekend, I wanted to scout out the route, so to speak, because I'd like to fly there with my wife someday soon for a visit. The airport is located in the town of Eastsound. It doesn't appear that there any hotels there, so it might be difficult to stay overnight without a car. If nothing else, however, we could fly out in the morning and spend the day there walking through town and enjoying the shops and restaurants. After activating my flight plan, I took off and climbed to my cruise altitude of 4500 feet. My route stayed over the mainland until I reached Chuckanut, at which point I turned east and headed toward Lummi Island.

Island hopping

One very positive aspect of being a pilot in the Puget Sound region is the existence of the San Juan Islands, as well as the other islands and coastal areas that make up the region. There are many airports, large and small, scattered throughout the islands and they make for fantastic flying opportunities. Today, I took advantage of that and made a flight out to Friday Harbor. The town of Friday Harbor is a picturesque community on San Juan Island, after which the archipelago is named. Friday Harbor Airport is a small, one runway airport located on the south side of the town. I flew out there for a few reasons. I'm hoping to take my wife out there, hopefully later this year, and stay a few nights. We took the ferry to Friday Harbor a few years ago and had a nice time. Flying there would, I think, make for a wonderful vacation. I wanted to scout out the route, so to speak, and see what the airport was like. I wanted to practice talking with ATC and using flight following. I wanted to