Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Solstice Fly In

    Few people can attest to having an airport on their front yard, although I generally don't advertise or promote the fact, a plane now and again is fine, people I know kind of thing. Not much of an airstrip mind you, just an oversize lawn surrounded by tall trees. Just a big enough slot to approach through the trees, put it down and hard on the brakes to avoid plowing into the formidable log cabin located at the end of the lawn/airport.
Takes a certain type of pilot to side-slip in here in these tight quarters.
    Mark Sorensen is a Hotspring Lodge reader in Oregon, he has been planning a trip (his first) to Canada for some time in his pristine little Maule aircraft, looking to do a little bike riding and spend Summer solstice at the hot spring. He made his way up the coast and crossed the border into BC, clearing Canada customs and spending a day mountain biking up the backside of the Chief in Squamish . We had been communicating about the conditions and I had told him we were having some strong June winds that were lasting all day, they come up valley, creating a tailwind condition landing that pilots hate to execute, unless they have to. The sun had set in the valley here when I heard him go over that evening, the wind was still gusting from the south as he circled back down valley and set up his approach between the trees into the awfully small looking green spot. I'm sure if it were not for the attraction of the famous Hotspring Lodge and the hot spring tubs waiting below, he would have kept right on going.
 He greased it in on the second attempt, tail-wind and all. leaving great long skid marks on the airstrip and charging right up to the cabin, almost sending me running for cover for a moment. He swung it around and parked, cooled it off and shut down, with shaking knees he got out and came over to introduce himself. I had not met him before, but I was pretty sure his eyes were not always bulging open like that, and sure enough, after a bit they returned to their normal size. He spent quite a bit of time looking back at the slot he had just flown through, shaking his head and talking excitedly, as pilots often do after landing here the first time.
 People often ask why I don't have a plane, I tell them if I did, I would have to have a job.

 He set camp up right under his wing, and joined the campers down at the hot spring enjoying the longest day of the year. Sometime during the evening he chatted up a certain Tina and offered her a ride out the next day in his plane. I'm not so sure she may have fully believed him, until he rode his bike down the next morning to confirm. They quickly packed up their tent and half hour later, Tina and her friend Laurie pulled in the yard and she could hardly believe her good luck.
Lucky Tina, gets to fly to Sqaumish over snow capped  mountains on a beautiful sunny day, you can tell this is an every day occurrence for her.

Poor Laurie, not enough seats, anyways, someone had to drive the mini van back home. "It's all so surreal" she said, taking it all in.

Here is a take-off fly around and approach filmed under better conditions the next day.
Hang on to your seat.


  1. I was sitting with my 3 kids in one of the tubs when the plane came in. My thoughts were also "wow that plane sure is coming in fast and low"

    Solstice at the lodge is always a great time of year eh Mr T?

  2. Yeah it was a great weekend once that wind quit, you guys don't feel it down in the campsite, but it sure can blow over here in the clearing. June 21 is always interesting at T'sek alright. Seemed like a pretty good bunch down there this weekend. lol, its been a long time since I have been called Mr T. !