Oh, The Places I’ve Been

Many pilots stick pins in a wall chart to track the airports they’ve landed at during their trips. I’ve been doing the 21st-century equivalent with Google Earth so that I can zoom in and roam around the globe to revisit old flying memories.

It’s easy to build an Excel worksheet that lists the vital statistics for an airport (identifier, lat/long, name, etc.) and then convert that to a KML file that Google Earth can display. To learn about the simple process, see Excel To KML – Display Excel files on Google Earth, which includes a free Web utility to convert your Excel worksheet.

Here’s a link to my KML file. You can open it in Google Earth.

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The Extra is in Seattle for the Summer

I launched in the Extra 300L from its winter home at 61B at 0600 PDT Saturday and cruised to KVIS via DAG and PMD, etc. on the dogleg to California’s Central Valley (I don’t like to fly the lonely stretch between Las Vegas and Reno in the Extra); 1.7 en route on a clear, smooth flight. That’s the time of day to cross the desert.

61B-KBFI-May10-2008

Refueled at KVIS (I was there before the FBO opened the doors) and rocketed on to KOVE, which has the cheapest ($4.80) gas I could find in CA; 1.4 up the valley, including, with ATC’s blessing, a scenic overflight of Beale AFB, which now has a permanent temporary flight restriction (National Security Airspace) superimposed on its Class C. One U-2 variant on the ramp; several other pointy aircraft (probably T-38s) were in evidence.

The next leg is the usual run from KOVE to KCVO in Oregon. But everybody north of Medford was reporting broken and overcast layers at 3000-4000, and that’s what the XM weather on Garmin 396 continued to report (how did I fly before I had that feature?).

So after 1.2, I plopped down at KMFR, refueled, and hung out at the nice, remodeled FBO (Medford Air) for about 90 minutes.  The gas wasn’t cheap (but not outrageous these days), and the folks were helpful, and they have good facilities for stranded pilots.

The next round of METARs looked better, so I departed KMFR. I spent the next 1.2 beneath an overcast working my way north through the hills. I always had excellent visibility (20-30 miles), all of the mountain tops were in the clear, and I had several alternates (e.g., KRBG) reporting good VFR.

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According to the fuel computer and my Mark 0.5 brain, I had just enough gas to make it all the way home to KBFI. But the weather in the Willamette Valley had me at 2000-2500, and I didn’t want to start poking my way through the infamous Chehalis Gap south of KOLM in MVFR only to find that I didn’t have enough gas to go to Plan B, so I dropped in at KHIO for some insurance fuel and another look at the weather. Then it was on to KBFI (0.8 en route).

I’d had so much fun that I decided to stop flying for the day. Wouldn’t want to spoil that endorphin high. Besides, around 1900 PDT, the skies opened up and poured rain as another front passed through.

Not much chance of doing acro for the next several days, but it looks like I’ll get some flying in later this week:

A STRONG UPPER RIDGE WILL BUILD OVER THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR WARM SUNNY DAYS WEDNESDAY THROUGH FRIDAY.

We may even get close to 80!

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