Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Swanson - Portland / Cessna 182RG II (N7109V) / VFR

It's not a lot of fun to fly with a migraine, but it's possible. I'm lucky in that I never get the kind of migraines that make a person vomit or anything like that, but they are severe enough to be preoccupying, and they can make me queasy if I'm not the person driving (or piloting). Nevertheless, I thought a nice little VFR flight would take my mind off it, so I fired up the Cessna I had parked at Swanson (Eatonville), and flew it to Portland.

Conditions were just barely legal for VFR. I had originally planned to join V495 direct to BTG, but there were so many clouds in the way that I had to veer way west. I tried my filed altitude of 7500, then 9500, and still there were clouds in the way, so ultimately I went back down to 3500, and that was below the cloud deck and I could safely fly there, although it was a bit misty.

Eventually I came across the Columbia River, and I decided to just follow that to Portland at around 2300 feet. That also lined me up fairly nicely for runway 10L. Portland itself was clear with winds calm, and landing was without incident.

I had the airplane loaded with just me and some stuff in the back, and it kept wanting to turn left in consequence. I'm going to go back to my practice of loading water ballast in the back to compensate for myself when I'm flying alone, so I don't have to constantly steer to the right. The Cessna doesn't have aileron trim, and rudder trim doesn't quite fit the bill. With the autopilot on it doesn't matter much, but I get tired of holding the yoke to one side when flying by hand. It's easier to just try to get the aircraft balanced in the first place. Of course, hauling ballast means using a tiny bit more fuel, but fuel is cheap in the virtual world.

I was also cutting things close by filing VFR in this part of the country. Terrain is low around here (if you stay west of the mountains) and MEAs aren't too terrible, so maybe I'll just file IFR next time so I don't have to dodge the omnipresent clouds.

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