Bowman Field’s annual 2-day fly-in is becoming a regular trip for us. It occurs each year close to my birthday and is a good excuse to visit some fun strips, hang out with cool people and camp out under the stars next to the airplane.
The 2018 Bowman Fly-in will be August 25-26.
The first question on any similar trip is, “What airplane does Emilie want to fly”. …and the answer is always, “Mine!” There has been much discussion about getting her up to speed in the Bearhawk, but thus far she’s having too much fun with the RV-4.
The other question for this specific trip is what other stops and activities do we want to plan. The Bowman Field Fly-in is more of an excuse or catalyst to get out and have fun than the singular point of the trip. Emilie wanted to bring the bikes and find a lobster on the Maine coast. We have a friend, Cliff, who has a private strip in his backyard in Maine. He previously built an RV-6 or RV-7, but sold it before building his new strip and had wanted to see an RV land there. At 1,200 ft it is more than long enough for a skilled RV pilot, but the combination of trees and hills makes it similar to landing at the bottom of a small canyon. We also wanted to make a stop at one of our favorite places, Richmond Island. [Update 2019: Access to Richmond Island has since been restricted.] There are several other places we wanted to stop, but they would have taken us further west/inland than would permit a reasonable stop at Richmond Island.
The plan that formed was to fly to Hampton (7B3) for breakfast, warm up on a couple strips near there that were familiar and/or easy and then work our way north to eventually arrive at Bowman. The original plan included 12 stops before arriving a Bowman. 12 stops is probably a bit optimistic, but plans are made to be changed.
Due to a late start, the first change was to eat breakfast at home, skip the stop before Hampton and have lunch at Hampton. Because of a busy schedule and a previous crash on her bicycle, Emilie had not flown much recently. Before eating lunch, she did a couple of practice landings and then fueled the RV. She wanted to be light departing Richmond Island and Cliff’s, so took careful measure of how much fuel was in the plane, figured how much she would need (plus reserves) before the next fuel stop and finally determined how much fuel to add. At the “Airfield Cafe” we ran into the daughter of one of our friends. She was waiting other tables and came over to say, “hello”. On a previous visit, Emilie met with our friend and had taken her for a ride in the RV-4.
After lunch, we headed to Greenland, NH. It is a 2,100 ft grass strip with a steep hill at one end. If you use it as a one way in/other way out strip, it makes for a good backstop for stopping (though with 2,100 ft, that hardly seems necessary) and a fun down hill launch on takeoff.
Next up, Epping. It is owned by a nice older gentleman who used to keep a Cub there. It is about 1,100 ft long and runs down the middle of a corn field. One end is on the top of a hill making for a clear approach, but a slightly down hill landing. The owner no longer flies, but likes to see people visit and the neighbors also love it. When they know a group is coming, we sometimes get fresh squeezed cider and doughnuts hot out of the fryer.
Greaton (98M) is under the southwest edge of the Portland class C airspace. It is privately owned, public use strip that is 2,200 ft long. Neither of us had ever been in there, so we stopped out of curiosity. There isn’t much there, but the strip has a nice backcountry feel to it and is a worthy stop.
Following that we headed east under the Portland airspace and stopped at Baileys and Spurwink, then to Richmond Island, just off the coast. Richmond has a nice 900 ft strip mowed in the center. The primary inhabitants are sheep, and on this day it had LOTS of tree swallows that swarmed up chasing bugs. Thankfully they stayed out of the way during approach and departure.
We went for a short walk along the beach and said hello to a couple of groups camping for the weekend. Isaac was about to have his last week at the daycare/pre-school he had been going to since he was 6 weeks old and we wanted to give all his friends a card saying, “Good bye” and include some contact info for those who might want to get together again. We posed the RV-4 with the ocean behind it and Isaac standing in the pilot’s seat waving. It came out great!
At this point the day was getting short so we cancelled all the remaining stops except for Cliff’s. Emilie got there first, naturally, and found that not only was Cliff there, he was parked in the middle of the runway! Emilie wound up the RV-4 and “knocked on his door” with a nice high speed pass. That got Cliff’s attention and he pushed his Cub off to the side. I had arrived and happened to be in place to land first. I parked off to the side at the north end and Cliff came over with his son to say hello and ask if Emilie was planning to land. You bet she is! As we watched her on approach, Cliff expressed concern that she might be too high. Looking straight down the runway it is very hard to judge her position on the approach, and thus, how high she should be. All we knew is that we could see a lot of sky between her and the tree tops. …something you would not want to see as she passed those tree tops. As the approach progressed she got lower and lower. Then, just as the sky between her and the trees disappeared I saw her shadow pass over the treetops. I could also see from the pitch attitude of the airplane that her speed was right on the money. I told Cliff, “She’s got this!” Landing and roll-out were beautiful. First RV successfully landed at Cliff’s! After chatting with Cliff for a bit, it was time to attempt the first successful RV departure from Cliff’s. We briefly discussed strategy to get maximum performance out of the RV-4 and Emilie saddled up. Hint, maximum performance is not the FAA way. Look for ‘The Obstacle Way’ near the bottom. The weather was quite warm, but the RV was light and Emilie knows how to fly it. Still, breath was held until we again saw sky between her and the treetops. Once she had built up speed to where the RV performs well, the pull and steep climb was impressive!
Final leg to Bowman! When Emilie arrived (she got “there” first again?!) she found Rene playing with his Super Cruiser in the pattern and was greeted on the radio with something like, “We were talking about you guys and wondering if you were going to show up?!” Yeah, we were late. When we parked, many of the day visitors had already departed, leaving largely those that planned to spend the night. Isaac was quite disappointed that the bouncy house (big inflated thing for kids to jump in) had already been taken down for the day. He was consoled with assurances that it would be up again in the morning.
We had a great evening hanging out with friends next to the airplanes and under the stars. Isaac and Emilie had done some birthday shopping for me and presented some wrapped boxes of tasty chocolate that was shared with the group. I had recently bought a Wind Pouch inflatable couch and had it with me for its first test run. I think a few more planes in the area will soon also be equipped with one. The band played late to the enjoyment of the crowd. The evening was capped with a fireworks show.
The air cooled off considerably, to the point that we ended up using all of our “spare/extra” clothing to keep warm during the night. Cliff had been on a quick trip home to get camping gear when we found him at his strip. Everyone was a little confused in the morning because we found him commenting (complaining?) that he had forgotten nearly everything needed for camping. He had little more than the tent!