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gmurray56

Olympic Peninsula in a Saratoga

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Two years had passed since my move to Washington. The Cherokee 140 had reached TBO and my family had grown, so I had persuaded my wife to buy a bigger airplane. After much research, I decided on a Piper Saratoga. It was very similar to the Cherokee, but with six seats and an engine twice as powerful. I had taken instruction in a Piper Arrow (a more powerful, retractable gear Cherokee) and in a retractable Saratoga to learn the constant propeller and the moving landing gear. Eventually, I found a fixed gear Saratoga and flew it from Aurora, Illinois, to Bremerton. After a couple of local flights, I took the Saratoga on one of my favorite outings, along the coast of the Olympic Peninsula to the Northwest corner of the continental United States. The 300-hp engine easily pulled me up above the Olympics, and, as usual, the scenery was stunning. Alpine lakes, virgin forests, and glaciers to my left and the Puget Sound and inlets from the Pacific studded with islands to my right, with the Cascade Mountains in the distance and the snow capped volcanic peak of Mt. Baker. The beauty was exquisite, and I was alone in the air. I turned inland and flew back over the mountains toward home. I could not resist the urge to let down through the river valley back to the Hood Canal. It had a measure of risk, but so did all flying. It was selfish, it was wasteful, to fly alone with no real destination, but I was happy.

I search the Internet for a fixed gear Saratoga and finally find one, but it is for FS2004. Luckily, I have that program as well as FSX. After some hassle, it finally is installed and I am anxious to fly. I start off at Tacoma Narrows, close to the Narrows Bridge. It is another beautiful simulation, but the virtual cockpit’s instruments are just dummies. That’s okay, I just give it full throttle and take off. Once airborne, I pull back on the throttle and the prop just a little, and it seems to work. I cruise along the Puget Sound, and below me I see ferries! The earlier program appears to have better scenery on this computer. I head northwest along the Olympic Peninsula, and discover that instruments are available with the “W” key, so it gives me a little more precise control. This aircraft certainly climbs better than the virtual Cherokee. I see Mt. Olympus, and in this version, the glacier is visible. I turn back toward Bremerton, and Mt. Rainier is standing there in the distance, with an almost full moon beside it. Beautiful! I pull back on the throttle and descend between the mountain ridges on both sides. I can certainly see why someone would prefer this to flying over the featureless expanse of Central Texas. Even though I know I don’t have to, I fly the pattern at Bremerton and land. The new virtual plane has its drawbacks, and I have gone out of sequence in my recreations, but this is fun, and it has only cost me some electricity and some time.
VIRTUAL LOGBOOK
Olympic Peninsula Piper Saratoga

PA32-301 N18ST (FS2004/FS9)
From: KTIW (Tacoma Narrows, Washington)
To: KPWT (Bremerton, Washington)
Landings: 1
SEL: 0.4 hours

LOGBOOK
Olympic Peninsula Piper Saratoga

May 25, 1996
PA32-301 N8213Z
From: PWT (Bremerton, Washington)
To: local
Landings: 1
SEL: 1.6 hours

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