Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Smoke haze looking away from the sun.

Flying Early is the Answer

I managed to wake up early this morning and decided I’d try to into the air before it got really hot. The forecast high in Reno was 103.

I completed a couple of quick errands on the way to the airport, did a thorough preflight since it had been 3 weeks since my last flight and was number one for takeoff at about 8:45 am.

By that time I was already sweating. I thought I might visit one or two airports in the area but instead I just climbed up to try and find cool air.

We’ve been getting smoke from California fires burning SW of us The smoke has been messing with out air quality but hasn’t been really bad yet – only to ‘unhealth for sensitive groups’ a couple of times.

I ended up cruising around for a while at 12,000 feet in the cool, smooth air but never reached the top of the smoke layer. I have a couple of photos below. I just looked at ForeFlight and the temperature has reached 99 deg F at Stead giving a density altitude of 8500′. Not conditions for the faint of heart.

I noticed a couple of visiting aircraft on the ramp when I drove in this morning – Canadair CL-415 ‘Super Scoopers’.

Truckee-Tahoe Airshow 2022

The Truckee Airport had their Airshow last weekend. It would have been nice to fly over and take in the festivities but the timing/temperatures were not something I wanted to endure. The airshow portion of the events restricted fly-ins to arriving before 9 am (acceptable) and then not leaving until after 3 pm (not good). The Reno forecast predicted a high for the day of 100 deg F. The temperature usually peaks around 4 -5 pm.

So, I drove over to Truckee for a few hours. I had been to the event in past years so I knew what to expect. They have lots of ramp space there and most of it was covered with airplanes. Display and airshow planes started at the south-east end of the main ramp and continued to well past the terminal building. Transient parking was northwest of that area.

The crowds filled the area for the entire time I was there (10 am – 2:30 pm). Lots and lots of families and kids all over the place. The event organizers made sure that there were several ‘kid friendly’ areas with fun things to do in shaded areas while learning about aviation and airplanes.

They had a nice Food Court area and a large open-sided tent filled with tables and chairs so you could sit and eat in the shade. Maybe next time they will include a way to provide shade for the ever-present line into the food vendor section.

Here are a few of the photos I took as I was walking around. [Click on each to see a larger version.]

Pyramid Lake - Swift Flight 7/1/2022

No Smoke Yet This Year – But a Bit of Wind

We have been lucky so far this year to have had very few fires in our area or out to our west. The prevailing winds are west to east, so brush/forest fires in Northern California tend to destroy our air quality because of the smoke blowing into the area. I’ve even watched our locally assigned air tankers going out to drop water for currency because they haven’t had any fires to attack.

Frenchman Lake - Swift Flight 7/1/2022
Frenchman Lake, NW of Stead

On the other hand, it seems that at least once a week we get winds in the 30-40 knot range because of a dry cold front passing west to east just north of our area. Sure, it’s nice to get crosswind landing practice once in a while but that’s a bit extreme. Without the cooling effect of the fronts our daytime temperatures have been in the mid/high 90s. That generates its own winds here in the high dessert – referred to as the Washoe Zephyr (it even has its own Wikipedia page). Late afternoon gusts are generally 20-23 kts.

I’ve tried to get up into the air at leas once a week just for general practice. This past week it was on Friday with a takeoff just before 8:30 am.

I gut up to cruise at around 8500′ MSL, pulled the power back, leaned the mixture and just enjoyed the ride. Flying early means you will generally have a nice smooth flight. If you go somewhere for breakfast though you will probably have plenty of bumps on the way home.

Honey Lake - Swift Flight 7/1/2022
Honey Lake in the distance – SE of Susanville, CA

As I headed home from my tour of the local area the Stead AWOS said the winds were still light. Listening to the Stead CTAF frequency I counted 4 planes in the pattern so I didn’t hurry back. I fly a fairly tight traffic pattern and have found that with more than a couple of other airplanes in the pattern with me I can’t fly as I want without screwing up everyone else’s sequencing. By the time I entered the pattern all four had either landed or departed the area. That was a good time to get a few patterns in and secure my landing currency for 90 days. I accomplished the task fairly quickly and headed for the fuel island to top off for my next flight. Hardly even scared myself…

It was a very enjoyable morning, one I hope to repeat soon.

Pyramid Lake - Swift Flight 7/1/2022
Pyramid Lake, NE of Stead – Anaho Island on the right

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