Flying over water, volcanos, forest fires and mountains (for you adrenaline junkies out there)
This two-week cross country trip has provided us with some unique flying opportunities. For the pilots who follow this blog this isn't anything newsworthy, but for spouses/partners of pilots or others who don't fly in smaller aircraft this information might be beneficial. Let's break it down by type.
Flying During Heavy Smoke (ie; forest fires)
As we made our way through South Dakota, Montana, Washington, and Nevada, we encountered smoke on every leg of the trip. This was expected during our planning. The photos tell the story, but of note, YES you can smell the smoke. Areas where firefighting activity is taking place are protected by temporary flight restrictions (TFR's). TFR's are displayed on the avionics in the plane and we are not allowed to fly through them to allow firefighting aircraft, such as spotters and water tankers, to do their work The main issue of course was visibility or lack thereof. We missed out on clear views on several of our flights, but this was beyond our control. An instrument rating is critical. The instrument rating training, certification, and regular practice teach pilots how to fly by reference to the instruments in the plane only; with no visual cues outside the airplane such as a visible horizon, for example). Not having the instrument rating would have limited our trip to very few of the areas we covered.
A unique color from the smoke visible from inside the plane; an active fire over Montana.
Footage from inside the plane while over Nevada.
Flying Over Water
When flying over large bodies of water OR in this case, taking off over water, we don constant-wear life vests before we take our seats in the plane. If there is an emergency, the thinking is there won't be time to put them on until you're already in the water, and then it's possibly too late, especially if you're injured.
Renton, WA airport (taking off over water); examples of the life vests we wear.
Flying Over Mountains and Volcanos
The Seattle area provided us with spectacular sightseeing over Mount Saint Helen's, Mt. Baker, and Mt Rainier. We had seen Mount Saint Helen's from the Johnston Ridge Observatory (the "visitors center") a few years ago and this was definitely a breathtaking view. We both proclaimed this a highlight of our trip.
Spirit Lake (still full of the trees snapped off like toothpicks during the eruption); Mt. Rainier; Mt. St Helen's (with Spirit Lake and Mt. Adams in the background); our oldest son along for the ride :) .
A stunning view of our approach over Mt. St. Helens.