Anybody Recognize that Glowing Fireball in the Sky?

KPWT sits up on a hill and in a slight valley, so even a sunny morning downtown can turn into a scud-loving mess by the time I get to the airport. Today though looks like a summer day in Seattle.


kpwt sunny day

KPWT 231535Z AUTO 03006KT 10SM CLR 06/02 A2987 RMK AO1

We’ll see how the winds develop. As the sun heats up the surrounding terrain, the winds (theoretically) could start whipping through here, making it too gusty and turbulent to fly by mid-afternoon.

A Change in Plan, 0.1%, and Something to Add to the Resume

One week on the job and over a week at Heli-Expo, and the first thing I know when I come back is that the senior instructor here is leaving in a week for a job in the GOM. I knew that was coming…part of the reason I was hired was to “take over” this location as the 2 high-time CFIs here move on. I just didn’t expect it to be so soon, and I’d hoped to have more time to figure out how to run the shop before being on my own. To add to it, the instructor that’s leaving was a treasure trove of instructional knowledge, and I’d hoped to sponge off him while doing my CFII. Guess that’s not going to happen either.

peninsula helicopters northwest

On the plus side, I finally got a nice long break in the weather last Thursday. Even with the ceilings sitting around 5000 MSL and some scud here and there, wow. This is an incredible area to be flying around in. Sadly, I left the mount for my Contour HD in a packed box at home, so no pictures. We scoped out the local landmarks, the practice area (basically the whole western part of our little peninsula), and the abundant areas available for practicing off-airport landings. The dominant la

nd feature in our area is Gold Mountain. Even though it’s not evident from the satellite, it’s the area we mostly skirt to the north and east. Along with the wind, low ceilings (5000 is low when you’re used to clear below 12,000), and mountainous terrain, I’m having to adjust to not having the usual VFR references. Either way, 1 hour flight time is 0.1% of the way.

After my flight, it was back to a bit of reality. Maybe one day I’ll get to say it, but for now “Just the pilot” isn’t a phrase I’ll be using much. With the departure of the senior CFI–the guy who established this location, set up the office, and built the business–the responsibility for setting up our renovated office space and keeping this location in business is most likely going to fall on me. To that end, I can add installing vinyl siding to my skill set. Fun. But I’ve said it before: in this market, the CFI who can wear many hats and adapt to the needs of the school is the one that gets hired.

peninsula helicopters northwest
You can't fully appreciate the symmetry of the lettering on the door from this shot. I still get paranoid that I misspelled something....

First Week on the Job

It was months in the works, but I finally landed a job as a CFI with Peninsula Helicopters Northwest (more on how that happened later). Once it happened, it happened quick, and last week I picked up and moved to Bremerton (KPWT). This is the slow season in the Northwest…it’s cold, wet, and cloudy. Although it’s been pretty frustrating not getting to fly, both for lack of students and weather, it’s been a gentle introduction to getting my head back into flying. This has been especially true with respect to the weather: the Olympic Peninsula is lower and wetter than where I trained in the Inland Northwest (dry and high). One of the challenges that I expect with working out of KPWT is dealing with the weather…most of my flying has been done on hot, but otherwise clear days with 10,000 ft ceilings. Weather here, at least in the springtime, changes fast and dramatically. On Tuesday, it seemed like a great day for flying at one end of the field, but not so much at the other end. By the end of the week, a low pressure system swept in, blanketing the the airport with <1/4 mile visibility and dropping snow on the field.

For those of you interested in beginning training, Helicopters Northwest has been at it for 25+ years, and has an in-house financing program. Check it out here.