Nehalem Bay State Park (3S7)

Nehalem Bay is a wonderful fly out destination. There's camping (6 campsites, all free, but "primitive" meaning no water or electricity, so bring your own), walks on the beach, trails to walk or bicycle, a trip to Manzanita for Clam Chowder. Fishing in the Bay or off the beach. Kite Flying. You name it!

Nehalem Bay

However, there are a couple things you need to consider when flying into or out of 3S7.

  • Wildlife - Deer and other wildlife are plentiful in the Park. Because of the safe park environment, they are also more likely to make themselves a hazard to aviators, especially deer, but also beware the typical shore or predator bird. As evidence, take a look at this video of an EAA-105 member flying into Nehalem Bay. This was the first landing for this pilot at 3S7, so he experienced several issues. The first he never even knew had occurred until he saw the video, taken by an EAA-902 member, and that is he did not take the precaution of ensuring that the field was clear of wildlife. It would have been best to fly low to the side of the runway to scare off any lurking deer. Don't fly over the runway, but to the side. The deer will then either be flushed out of hiding, and thus you'll be able to see them, or they will go for deeper cover. Watch the video!

  • Wind Shear - The second thing that happened that he hadn't experienced before was the wind shear that results when transiting from an open, windy environment to one that has virtually no wind because it is sheltered by trees. The wind blows from the ocean to the shore in the afternoon (opposite in the mornings), so in this case it was blowing a steady 10-15 knots from the west. When he transitioned from the windy to the sheltered environment, his reduced power and full flaps made him settle onto the runway fast, with no time to flare (note the three point landing). He now knows that he should add power in anticipation of the wind shear. Take a look at this video from Hillsboro Flight Training on landing at Nehalem.

  • Take off strategy - The windsock at Nehalem can be tricky to read, since the trees block the true direction of the prevailing winds. Mostly they are from the west after mid-morning, but often they are from the northwest, which can present a pilot with a dilemma. You'd like to land on 33 (from the south over the bay) and take off on 15 (to the south, over the bay). Both are fine to do, but you have to stay low. Watch this video again to see that both the RV and the Glastar stayed within the shelter of the trees to gain speed, then popped out into the prevailing winds. The Glastar decided to turn directly into the west wind and gained that extra lift, whereas the RV felt comfortable heading east with the tailwind. This downwind turn is fine, but only if you have sufficient speed. It's a tough call, but if that windsock is mostly limp, with just a hint of wind from the north, a southern launch is possible, but only if you stay within the protection of the trees, where there is basically no wind, especially at the southern narrow part of the runway.

    Do not launch towards the north unless you know you'll have favorable winds above the trees! The pilot in this video was very lucky. Take a look at what might have been a tragedy at the north end of 3S7. Note the windsock. He may have been overloaded, had engine problems, or just poor technique, or, as is sometimes the case, the windsock down low was different than the winds above the trees. Kites on the beach or smoke from campfires will tell you what to expect once clear of the treetops!

Other Considerations

  • Taxing - Do not taxi toward the tie-down area until you are at the end of the runway, then turn left and follow the "taxiway". There is a hidden ditch that runs between the runway and the tie-down area. Driving your baby into this ditch could ruin your whole day. Tie down - Wing tie down chains are located inside the white tires.
  • Run-up - If you value your prop and tail surfaces, do your run-up on the pad provided.
  • Bathrooms - The park has good bathrooms. Walk to the north side of the field, go through the gate, make a slight turn to the right and you'll get to an intersection, turn to the left and walk past the park gate. The meeting hall / restroom building is just ahead past the trailer dump station.
  • Beach access - Go past the meeting hall / restroom building (just cut through) and turn to the right on the road, past the yurts on your left. Eventually you'll see a park information sign on your right and trail to the beach. It's not far past the meeting hall / restrooms. Look here for a park map.
  • Bikes - Bring them if you can. It makes it easier to get around the park and north to Manzanita for chowder!
  • Sign the register - We need everyone to sign the register so the folks in Salem will know this is a valued airport and will keep it functioning!

More information

AirNav information here
Sectional chart location here
Oregon State Park information here