Tuesday, September 18

Breathtaking flight

St. Helens with Rainier in background
The flight from Seattle to Aurora was the best I have experienced on the Flagship for sheer drama. First it was Mt. Rainier. What a sight! This magnificent mountain made the others around it look like ant hills with its height and width.  The sun shining on its snow gave it a jewel like appearance. All four of us were in the cockpit with cameras clicking, taking shot after shot.
Soon we spotted a snow shrouded Mt. St. Helens on the other side. We approached from the north where the eruption took place and could clearly see the destruction.  From the air it appeared to be a large mudslide. Not the color I expected for lava. After thirty years, it is still quite barren. There were areas farther out where rows of logs were lying on totally barren ground. There was an area like this next to Spirit Lake and logs floating in the lake. Can these logs be still there after all this time?
We flew quite close around the eastern and southern slopes of the mountain, viewing it in detail before heading on our way.  As we neared Aurora, the land became quite lush and there was a lot of agricultural activity including fields of cultivated flowers.
As we landed in Aurora, we were greeted with the rare sight of two gleaming DC-3s on the ramp, awaiting our arrival. One is N18121, formerly part of Eastern Airlines Silver Fleet and has the highest flying time of any 3. The other is Esther Mae, one of the youngest with the lowest time. Esther Mae was never an airliner, she has been a corporate plane her whole life. Our host, Paul Bazely, owner of Aerometal, maintains 3s, among other things. Paul takes time to greet us before taking off for a check ride. There being nothing planned for the afternoon, we headed off to McMinnville  to tour the Evergreen Air and Space Museum. Steve arranged for us to have a cockpit tour of the Spruce Goose and an interior tour of the Reno Mainliner DC-3 housed there.The Reno was part of United Airlines and one of the two oldest museum 3s. She dates from Nov. 1936, was the first to be certified with Pratt & Whitney supercharged engines, and is still airworthy.  Later, we went into the charming town for dinner. This is wine country which means a lot of tourism and the towns reflected that. The countryside reminded people of the French landscape.

DC-3 under wing of Spruce Goose
On Wednesday, Steve headed back to Ft. Worth and the rest of us prepared for a 3 P.M. membership  flight. Because the people at Aerometal are experts on DC-3s, we asked one of the mechanics to do a bit of maintenance. One thing led to another and a new part was required. That caused the postponement and then cancellation of the flight with hopes of doing it on Thursday. We will now be a day later getting to Salt Lake City.

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