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gmurray56

Giant Volcanoes

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I have flown above and among mountains, but a few are MOUNTAINS. The super massive volcanoes of the Pacific coast dwarf everything around them. I have had the privilege of seeing several close up (but not too close up.) I have recreated these encounters from my logbook.

Mt. Shasta: I depart from Red Bluff, California (KRBL) and turn to heading 340⁰ on my way to Washington. I climb and climb at 80 mph, eventually leveling off at 8500 feet. (My original goal was 10,500 but I get tired of climbing.) I plod along for half an hour, with mountains below me on either side and occasional glimpses of the Pacific to the west. Clouds are building below me. I go to the map and see no giant mountain, but I know it is on this route. I scroll the map north and there it is! So, I move the plane to a position about 30 miles southwest of it along the planned route. When the new position is established, I look out the windshield and see nothing but a cloud in front of me. The FARS be damned, I fly right through it. When the white mist clears, the view is fantastic. Shasta dominates the horizon. I continue along, passing to the west of the peak at about the level of the bottom of the snowcap. The different views in and out of the plane are awesome. From the nearby airport, my plane is a miniscule speck. The mountain is just massive. At 100 mph, it takes over 30 minutes to pass by. Again I go to the map and move past the Portland airspace. I look out the window to the right, and see the cone of Mt. St. Helens. That will have to wait for another trip. Bremerton is still 2 hours away, so I exit the program. Mountains are on my menu today, not landings.
VIRTUAL LOGBOOK
PA28-140 C-FTVW (FS2004)
From: KRBL To: Mt. Shasta
LOGBOOK
March 28, 1994
PA28-140 N55633
From: RBL (Red Bluff, CA) To: PWT (Bremerton, WA)

Mt. St. Helens
: I take off in the Cherokee 140 from Bremerton and turn to the southeast, climbing, climbing from almost sea level to 7,500 feet. The scenery is fantastic, with mountains and water all around, but the giant volcanoes stand head and shoulders above the rest. After what seems forever, I reach cruising altitude, but I am still an hour away from my target, so I go to the map and move the plane closer to Mt. St. Helens. She is not as tall or as massive as Shasta, Hood and Rainier on the horizon, but she is without a doubt a volcano. I fly around the crater counter-clockwise. The simulation is beautiful, but pale in comparison to the real thing. After one circuit, I do what I would never do in the real plane: fly into the crater. I make two circles around the lava dome, probably banking more than I should in a Cherokee. Woo-hoo! I exit the crater to the northwest, over a blue lake. I freeze the program and enjoy the different views before exiting the flight. The flight analysis shows alarming proximity to the ground, even at 7,500 feet.
VIRTUAL LOGBOOK
PA28-140 C-FTVW (FS2004)
From: KPWT To: Mt. St. Helens
LOGBOOK
March 3, 1995
PA28-140 N55633
From: PWT (Bremerton) To: Mt. St. Helens – AST (Astoria) – PWT

Mt. Baker: I start on the ground in the Cherokee 140 at Concrete, Washington. Looking around, I see a white peak to the northwest. I take off and head toward the biggest mountain around. Fortunately, there is a river valley in the general direction, so I climb while the terrain also climbs on both sides. By the time I pass 5,000 feet, I am higher than the surrounding Cascade Mountains but still thousands of feet below the peak of Mt. Baker. This volcano is squattier and less massive than Mt. Shasta, but bigger than Mt. St. Helens. I inspect the south slope from 6500 feet, then turn toward Bremerton. I can see the Olympic Mountains on the horizon and aim about 10 degrees south. I start descending as I approach the coastline, clearing the last ledge as water and islands are in front of me. As I continue, I see traffic in front of me, a Cessna Skylane. The 75-mile trip back to Bremerton gives me time to check the GPS and map, tune the radios, look around, and generally keep busy. Eventually, I am back in familiar territory with KPWT five miles away, hidden by the hills. My wife comes home and I pause the simulator to help unload groceries. I return to the computer, enter the pattern for Bremerton, and crash on the runway! I realize that I have not practiced landing since I started using FS2004 on the new computer. So I start again at Bremerton and shoot a couple of touch-and-goes, using full back elevator and throttle to keep from hitting nose-first. Again, flying is easy; landing is hard.
VIRTUAL LOGBOOK:
PA28-140 C-FTVW (FS2004)
From: 3W5 (Concrete, WA) To: KPWT (Bremerton, WA)
LOGBOOK:
September 1, 1995
PA28-140 N55633
From: PWT (Bremerton) To: WA13 (Concrete) To: PWT

Mt. Rainier: I take the PA32 (Saratoga/Cherokee Six) from Bremerton to see Mt. Rainier close up. Duplicating the route I took in 1997, I maintain 1500 feet from take-off east to SEA-TAC and cross midfield. There are a lot of planes moving around on the ground and in the air, both big and small. Once past the airport, I had planned to climb through Snoqualmie Pass, but I cannot identify which pass is which, so I just start climbing and turn toward the biggest bump on the horizon. The Six climbs much better than the Cherokee 140, but it still seems to take a long time to get up to 9,500 feet. Rainier already appears huge, but is still very far away, getting bigger by the minute. Even when I feel close, I am miles away. The simulation looks very realistic, with fantastic textures. I climb through 10,000 feet and circle the peak, still 4,000 feet higher. This is truly a majestic mountain. I explore the view from every angle. Finally, I turn back toward the west and start letting down, which seems to take almost as long as the climb. I use the GPS and map for position awareness, and experiment with “talking” to Seattle approach for flight following and permission to enter their airspace. A 747 passes in front of me on approach to SEA-TAC. Below, I see the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, and then a ferry in the water. Soon I am on final to KPWT, where I manage to land without crashing.
VIRTUAL LOGBOOK:
PA32-300 N30062 (FS2004)
From: KPWT (Bremerton, WA) To: KSEA- Mt. Rainier- KPWT
LOGBOOK:
September 7, 1997
PA32-301 N8213Z
From: PWT – SEA- Mt. Rainier – PWT

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