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Flying to Texas for Paint

After flying for a year and a half, our airplane is overdue for painting.  Because of some of the peculiarities of RVs and the RV-10 in particular (e.g. plexiglass windows glued into the fiberglass top), we decided to have the RV painting experts at GLO Custom do our paint.  They’ve panted almost 150 RVs already, including several -10s, with great results, so we’re confident they know what they’re doing.  The only downside is that they’re nowhere near Seattle—they’re outside Fort Worth, Texas.  Perfect excuse for a long plane trip!

Last picture together with an unpainted airplane

There are several ways to fly between Seattle and Ft. Worth, but if you draw a straight line between the two, it goes very close to Jackson Hole.  That, combined with the fact that my mom needed a ride from Seattle to Jackson at the same time sealed the deal.  We’d take our usual route via Boise; then, the next day, I’d continue east, toward Cheyenne, then down through central Colorado and straight to Ft Worth.

Ready to go!

The flight to Jackson was mostly uneventful, though clouds in western Washington meant my mom got a taste of instrument flying.  We were in a solid layer of clouds climbing out from Paine field from about 3000’ to 8000’ before leveling off at 9000’ and heading over Snoqualmie Pass.  This provided a spectacular view on top, with Mt. Rainier in the background.  We stopped again in Nampa, Idaho (great fuel stop), before continuing on to Jackson.  There, we landed in a gusty crosswind, which was fine, but after we parked, I was so fixated on installing the gust locks that I forgot to chock the wheels.  With the airplane pointed away from the wind, a gust blew the tail around and toward the airplane parked next to us.  Fortunately I grabbed it in time and my mom put the chocks in.  I won’t make that mistake again.

“On top” approaching Snoqualmie Pass. These would be the only clouds we see on the trip to Jackson

Here’s a video of flying through turbulence in Teton Pass and landing in Jackson.

The next day my parents dropped me off at the airport, and I took off headed east, toward Togwotee Pass (a 9000+’ mountain pass on the east side of the valley).  I saw smoke in the area before departing, but I had no idea the visibility would be so bad at altitude.  The thicker smoke, combined with the sun coming out of the east, meant I couldn’t see well enough to proceed.  After circling and thinking about it for a while, I decided to land and figure out what to do next.  With oxygen onboard, I decided to file IFR at 14,000’ (the minimum instrument altitude headed east) and go that way.  This time, I still couldn’t see anything climbing out, but I was on an instrument flight plan and high enough, so I knew I wasn’t going to hit anything.  The smoke had a definite top around 13,000’, which made for an interesting view up there.  Going on top over the pass, I could see the ground directly below, but not much further out than that.

On top of the smoke, headed east from Jackson Hole

Loving the oxygen

The rest of the leg was uneventful.  After hitting Cheyenne, I turned southeast and ended up landing in Lamar, a small town in southeast Colorado.  It was another good fuel stop, where I also had lunch and stretched my legs a little before proceeding about an hour later.

From southeast Colorado to Texas, the land is very flat and very low, which meant I could get a direct routing.  There were thunderstorms in Oklahoma and north Texas, but they were spread out enough that it was no big deal, and the onboard weather data made avoiding them even easier.  A couple hours and a couple deviations later, and I was in Texas approaching my destination.  By then it was Saturday afternoon, and I didn’t need to be to the paint shop until Monday morning, so I took the opportunity to visit my friends Adam and Monika in the SW Ft. Worth area.  Therefore, I picked the airport closest to their house, which was Bourland Field, a little private strip.  That worked out great.

Right after takeoff from Lamar, got “direct Maverick” which is the VOR (radio beacon) at DFW airport. Sort of boring having your next waypoint 380nm away.

Convection! Clouds! A rare sight in the Seattle area. This is over Oklahoma

NEXRAD weather radar keeping me away from the bad stuff

Parked at Bourland Field

On Sunday, Adam gave me a tour of the F-35 production facility, and I had the opportunity to take him flying while Monika took pictures from the ground.  Here’s a video of the flight.

Monday morning, I made the quick hop from Bourland to the paint shop at Northwest Regional.

Made it! At the paint shop

Flight track visualized in Google Earth

All in all, I flew 1925 miles in 9.9 hours, not including the aborted flight from Jackson and taking Adam for a ride on Sunday. The airplane also landed in two new states: Colorado and Texas. In retrospect, it would have been easy to get Kansas and Oklahoma, too, so probably should have done that. Anyway, the trip was three times longer than my previous longest trip, was a great learning experience, and tons of fun, too!

The rest of the pictures are here.

Next: Part 2 – Picking up the Airplane from the Paint Shop and Flying to Houston

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