Monday, October 26, 2009

Chasing the Volcanos (part 6)

Today is the last day of our Chasing the Volcanos flying tour! 7 Days ago we left Livermore (CA) in our Cessna C172R, on a flying and photography adventure. Today we plan to get back to Livermore in the late afternoon. Time flies!
The take-off at South Lake Tahoe airport (density altitude +8500ft) in our 160 horsepower Cessna, is not going to be a spectacular one. You pilots, will know what I'm talking about… Making things worse we're having a dilemma. Taking off with a 15 knots tailwind towards the lake or taking off, into the wind and accepting a rate of climb of about 200 to 300ft/min towards high ground. After seeing a fully loaded TB20 taking off downwind we go for the latter one. A spiraling climb to 9500feet over the lake brings us high enough to safely cross the surrounding mountains and we leave beautiful Lake Tahoe behind us. We need to get back to this place. Today's flying covers a large part of the camper tour we plan to do after this trip, in opposite direction.
First interesting viewpoint is the Gold Mining town of Bodie. A very special place in a great location. More on this in our "Back to Nature" camper tour blogpost in the coming weeks.
After passing Mono Lake we climb to an altitude of 12500ft… pretty much the maximum altitude we can get to in the current conditions. ChasingVolcanos
We need the higher altitude in order to pass the east entrance to the Yosemite national park, the 10000ft Tioga pass. Overflying Yosemite is limited to having a minimum of 2000ft terrain clearance but provides us with some great photo opportunities. ChasingVolcanos
We can clearly make out El Capitan and Half Dome. The latter being "The icon of Yosemite".

Leaving Yosemite to the West we start our descend into Pine Mountain Lake, a very nice airpark which we visited earlier in 2001. Airparks are places where people live on the airport and have a car and an aircraft parked in the hangar. Retirement paradise, if you ask me!
After filling up with some cheap gas, we hop across to Columbia airport and walk over to Columbia State Historic park. A very nice and well preserved Gold Rush boom town.ChasingVolcanos

It is closed to all automobile traffic and is only open to pedestrians, horses and carriages.ChasingVolcanos
Just after our last take-off of the trip, we overfly the artificial New Melones Lake and have a nice view on some of the bridges. Less than an hour later we handover the keys of our faithful Cessna 172 to its owner at Livermore, CA. We finished our amazing weeklong "Chasing the Volcanos" tour with a total flying time of 23 hours over an estimated 3700km. It brought us great views of the North West Pacific and the Sierra Nevada and will give us lifelong memories.

I have a busy upcoming 10 days, so the next blog segment with the continuation of the trip and the "Back to Nature camper" tour only be online after the first week of November.

Till then,

Fly safe and happy shooting,

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