Visiting an aviation museum, by plane

The best way to go!

On Saturday, I flew from Corvallis (KCVO) to the McMinnville airport (KMMV), about 50 miles to the north. It was my first flight to a new airport since moving to Oregon. I was very excited to get out and explore from the air! It was a beautiful sunny day, with a nice bit of wind for takeoffs and landings (10 knots). I completed my engine runup, held short for a helicopter that was landing on a taxiway and kicking up dusty vortices, and then I was off. Flying solo, I got a great rate of climb! I headed up to 4500′ and then called Cascade Departure to request flight following. (I understand local pilots mostly don’t bother, but I love flight following! More information is always good, and if something went wrong, I wouldn’t have to fiddle with the radio to find someone to talk to.) After just a few minutes, they handed me over to Seattle Center as I traveled north.

The left picture shows Corvallis (OSU’s Reser Stadium is a good landmark with its red margins), and the right shows Mt. Jefferson in the distance. I hope to get closer someday!

As I approached McMinnville, I started making radio calls and listening carefully to the plane and helicopter activity. The wind was from 030 at 8 knots, so I planned for runway 4. I crossed over midfield at 1000′ above pattern altitude (apparently folks here prefer 1000′ to 500′, and I’m happy to have more buffer). This airport is tricky because it has two intersecting runways. The wind primarily favors one at a time, of course, but often both are in use anyway (e.g., to do instrument approaches). I’m still trying to find out the best way to handle this (all runways at this airport use left traffic, which seems like a problem to me if two are in use) – I asked a local pilot and he said he just does an extra-wide pattern to try to minimize conflict. Ugh! I miss control towers already :)

Anyway, so I crossed over at midfield and then did a “teardrop” descent to turn around and enter on the 45 for the left downwind for runway 4. Here is what it looks like from the air. I annotated the runways, so you can see that I’m coming in perpendicular to runway 04-22 (and looking and listening like mad for anything happening with runway 35-17).

I landed fine and taxied to the transient parking area, which had tiedown chains all ready!

One of the great things about this airport is that there is the amazing Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum just across the highway! Normally they offer a shuttle from the airport, but when I called, sure enough, no shuttle now due to COVID-19. The museum itself was open, though, so I hiked over (very glad I brought my hat!) and then spent 1.5 hours happily browsing the collection. So much great information and so many great machines! Here I am with the Spruce Goose, which was carefully transported here from Long Beach, CA:

They also have an outstanding history of space flight side of the museum – I could spend many more hours here. There were no crowds and it was very easy to stay far from the few other museum-goers.

I then hiked back to the airport and prepared to return. The winds had shifted a little, so now runway 35 was primarily in use, so I figured out how to taxi there, which involved taxiing across runway 04-22. I reached runway 4 (resisting the urge to announce that I was holding short, which apparently isn’t done at untowered airports) and noticed that a helicopter was landing on the runway (so both were indeed in use!). I waited until the helicopter was clear and then quickly taxied across runway 4. I took off on runway 35 and climbed back to 3500′ for my return, again with flight following. Back at Corvallis, I did another cross-over-midfield-into-teardrop (good practice for me since I rarely had to do this maneuver in SoCal!), landed, and taxied back to the hangar. A delightful day of flying and museum-going altogether!

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