In early May of this year, Annette and I took a vacation in Oregon. One of the “destinations” for the trip was Mt Hood.
In researching for the trip we came across a flight service in the town of Hood River. This flight service was offering sightseeing flights to Mt Hood, Mt Adams and along the Columbia River. We thought this would be so cool, so we made reservations for the first Saturday of the vacation.
Well, Saturday dawned and we called the flight service. Unfortunately, the clouds were at 5-6000 feet and the top of Mt Hood is 11,812 feet. We wouldn’t be able to see the mountain, so we postponed the flight. We checked again on Sunday, and again, the cloud ceiling was too low.
So we decided to see how far up Mt Hood we could drive. It was a semi-weird experience. Down in the valley, the temperatures were in the 50’s and 60’s F and the sun was shining brightly. Just a beautiful day.
But the farther we drove up the mountain, the more like winter it became. We made it to Timberline Lodge. At least we think so. We drove through the parking lot, but the fog was so thick, that we never saw the lodge! Oh! And the snow was still a couple of feet deep!
We stopped along the road to take some pictures. Doesn’t it look like winter? And this was May!
Finally, on the second Saturday, the day before we were to fly home, we called again and it looked OK, but not great. So we headed to the airport. From the webcams they knew that only one side of the mountain was not covered in clouds, so we decided to go.
I have to tell you, I don’t like bumpy airplane rides! And the beginning of this one was definitely bumpy. Annette and the pilot were fine, chatting and looking around. Not me! I was in the back seat with death grips on the arm rests!
I closed my eyes, but my stomach started to get queasy! So I opened my eyes.
Having worked in Engineering, I know a little bit about fatigue, and loads and stresses. I would have been better off thinking that the airplane was able to stand up to anything and last forever.
Having worked in Manufacturing with people performing tasks, I understand the need for procedures. Without them, people will eventually become lazy and cut corners. So, my mind immediately asked, how well did the maintenance team perform the work on this airplane?
But I looked at the pilot and saw that his demeanor was as if everything was totally normal and I focused on that. I just told myself, if things go bad, the pilot will be my first indicator.
Once we got above the clouds, the ride straightened out. It was great! But then I noticed that it was getting cold in the plane. The pilot said that it was 15 degrees outside!
We flew towards Mt Adams in Washington and then turned around and flew towards Mt Hood. Here are a couple images of Mt Hood.
As we left the Mt Hood area, the pilot offered to fly down the Columbia River, however, the clouds were low and it was likely to be a bumpy ride. “No, thanks!”, I said as quickly as I could. I didn’t know if I could handle more bumps!