A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Return to the bar

November 8, 2020
Emilie Phillips

Tyson flew the whole family back up to the Thornton gravel bar so we could see the river landing. Tyson was really hoping I could get some good video, but I’m afraid I am out of practice taking video and missed most of the shots.

Gravel bars on the Pemigewassett River

Tyson did one low pass to check the gravel bar was still safe. Isaac and I got out of the plane after the first landing so we could video Tyson’s takeoff and second landing. Isaac liked the approach flying down the river. Tyson said he got more confident every approach and landing. Following the meandering approach took less concentration, and he could save more for spotting the correct landing references.

Landing and taxiing on the rock surface was rough, but the round rocks weren’t as big as Tyson’s description made me think. None were as big as a loaf of bread. Most were fist sized. They were all loose, so you had to be careful to not twist an ankle, and not push up a berm with the big bush wheel tires.

Rock skipping lessons

Isaac hadn’t wanted to come because there wouldn’t be any salamanders at a gravel bar. I am not sure what he was expecting. He was quite happy skipping rocks into the Pemigewasset River.

I have wanted to learn how to land on gravel bars too, but landing this seemed above my skill level for now. However, both Tyson and I thought I could do the final takeoff. As I feared, I got stuck turning the Bearhawk around at the narrow point of the bar. We sat nose pointed to the river for several minutes as we discussed the options for how much power, braking, and rudder I could use to get the plane turned around quickly. The takeoff itself was easy, if bumpy. On the departure, I felt some of the same mental overload Tyson had described for the approach. I had to both manage the post-takeoff checklists, and follow the river’s turns as we climbed up out of the trees.

Apologies for the terrible video. Next time I’ll get the gopros out and clean the windshield.

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