Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Orcas Island [ Part 2 ]

We awoke on the morning of July 3 to cloudy skies over Kelso, WA, in a quaint hotel that served a free breakfast and had free wi-fi. So Kay went for the breakfast, and I went for the wi-fi, to check the weather. Looked like ceilings were around 5000, and I needed 6000 to go IFR to Orcas, so I filed it.

As our taxi approached the airport, I thought about another first that was about to happen -- getting an IFR clearance from a non-towered airport. When we arrived, Denny was there in the terminal, so I asked him how people usually do it ("they call WXBRIEF?"). No, he informed me, and he gave me a frequency to use.

So after a preflight, I started my taxi and radioed for my clearance. They gave me a clearance with a void time of 8 minutes, which was generous, so I took off well before the void time and made with the departure procedure. This time, I did have to go into the hold...and in retrospect, I think I did it exactly backwards. Luckily I wasn't there very long before being cleared to 8000 and direct someplace. At 8000, we were above the clouds, and were treated to views of Mt. Rainier blasting up through the cloud layer.

The flight was smooth, and as we approached Puget Sound, the clouds broke up below us. We went all the way in to Orcas IFR, but we were VMC from that point forward. The islands were absolutely beautiful!! We flew up through the middle of the horseshoe of Orcas Island, at the center of which was the airport, and we circled to land on the opposite runway. Smooth landing, easy parking! We made it to our island paradise!

I had originally thought that, having an airplane at our disposal on an island, we'd be flying all over the place, using Orcas as a home base. But that was not what happened, at all. We pretty much just wanted to stay on Orcas, and hang out. Many reasons for that, none of which were aviation related (except to say that the thought of going to Boeing Field or Victoria seemed impossibly complex, compared to eating pie on an island). The only trip we took was to Friday Harbor, on Tuesday, July 6 -- that was fun, old school flying, none of the IFR preparation -- it was a bright, sunny day, so a quick preflight and a review of the noise abatement procedures, and off we went! We took an S-shaped path over to Friday, landed, parked and walked to town for lunch; came back, took off, reversed our pattern back to Orcas. 0.8 hours on the Hobbs.

That was it, until it came time for the return flight back to Palo Alto.


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