Idaho Flying Trip August 30, 2016
Got up very early this morning so I could meet Gary, the instructor, at 6:30 am and we could get as much flying in as possible before it got too hot. About 11:00 am the wind usually gets stronger, the density altitude gets high and there's more turbulence. Density altitude is the altitude at which the airplane thinks it's flying. The air gets thinner as density altitude increases. The airplane's engine produces less power, the propeller produces less thrust and the wings produce less lift. Temperature is the primary reason that density altitude increases but humidity can play a part, too. For example, today it got up to 80 degrees in McCall. The airport runway elevation is 5,024 feet but the density altitude got up to 7,469 feet. Take offs take longer and climbs are slower. That's why we don't usually fly in the afternoons.
|After takeoff we did stalls in every flap configuration, determined a canyon cruising configuration and speed, and practiced normal and emergency canyon turns. This resulted in an accurate performance card specific to my airplane.||Here's the route we took after that.|
|Headed NE to Loon Lake. Click the photo to see the story of the B23 Dragon Bomber that crashed there in 1943. I took a picture but it didn't come out very well.||Followed roads and the tributaries of the Salmon River to stay away from box canyons.|
|Warren Airstrip information from Fly Idaho book. Click the photo for a larger version.||My Maule at Warren airstrip - my new wall photo. Click the photo for a larger version.|
|Click the photo to see the Warren takeoff video. We flew to Dixie Town but didnt land there since it was much like Warren.||Landed at Wilson Bar. Tricky approach over the river with lots of twists and turns at low altitude. Click the photo to see the Wilson Bar landing video.|
You might think that I landed far to the right of the runway in all of these videos, but that's not the case. My GoPro HERO4 Silver camera is mounted on the right wing tie down bolt, which is 13 feet to the right of the airplane's center line. Even so, we tried to land with at least one wheel off the runway center, if runway conditions allowed it, to avoid further runway wear. So many airplanes have landed at these airstrips that many of them are rutted and worn down to rock and dirt. It's pretty bumpy. I'm glad I had my 31" tundra tires, Alaskan Bushwheels Heavy Duty main gear legs, Alaskan Bushwheels 3224A tail wheel and tail spring, and had all the landing gear bolts checked, lubricated and torqued before the trip. Gary and I walked the length of the airstrip at Wilson Bar moving larger rocks and cutting down some of the larger brush since we wanted to take off to the right of the center of the runway to avoid wearing it down any further. This is where big tundra tires and a metal propeller help. The tires get the nose higher off the ground so the propeller tips don't hit the brush as much. The metal propeller blades chop the brush without damage if they do hit some, whereas a composite propeller might get damaged.
|Click the photo for the Wilson Bar YouTube take off video.||Looking back at the approach end of Wilson Bar and my Maule parked to the side.|
|Nice view of the Salmon River tributary off the Wilson Bar airstrip departure end.||I don't have an information page for Reed Ranch airstrip in my Fly Idaho book. It's west of Johnson Creek along the South Fork of the Salmon River. Runway 16/34 is 2175 feet x 100 feet is at an elevation of 4157 feet. The bulky black fisherman's vest that I'm wearing is filled with survival gear. I had a larger survival backpack within arm's reach behind the front seats as well as an 18-gallon bin filled with survival gear lashed down with cargo straps behind the front seats, but in a crash you might only be able to escape the aircraft with what you are wearing. You keep the most critical survival items in a fisherman's vest that you wear while flying the back country, including some kind of satellite locator device like a SPOT or Personal Locator Beacon. I had both.|
|The southerly wind blew smoke from the Pioneer fire 40 miles southeast of us into some of the canyons east of McCall,such as Johnson Creek. This is a beautifully maintained, popular, large grass airstrip with complicated approaches on both ends. Click the photo for a larger version.||You can land in either direction at Johnson Creek but there are houses at one end that have to be avoided and there's a bowl at the other end with high terrain around it. Runway 17 landing to the south is the normal runway if wind permits since it avoids the houses and lowers the noise level for them. Some of the smoke from the Pioneer fire settled into this area. Click the photo for the YouTube landing video.|
We arrived back in MCall about 1:30 pm. There was a lot of smoke from the Pioneer fire around McCall and in many of the canyons. Total flying time for today was 4.2 hours.