Columbia River Gorge

Discussion in 'Cool Places to Fly' started by DesertNomad, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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    I'm trying to fly from the Portland area to Reno next week (Wed, Thu, or Fri) and it looks like it will be overcast and a bit of rain. I've always gone direct over the mountains on clear days. What's a reasonable altitude and ceiling to safely fly up the river from Troutdale to The Dalles?

    Is 2500' with a 3000' ceiling, and 6mi+ (or maybe 10mi+) visibility reasonable?

    I am IFR rated but guessing there will be ice. Does traffic doing that route just stay to the right side below 3000'?
     
  2. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    I’ve flown it many times that low. Only once when ‘going somewhere’ instead of just sightseeing. That was underneath a ceiling but can’t remember what it was. Never seen it written, but I’ve always drove on the right side, just seems the natural thing to do and all the other traffic I’ve seen seems to be the same. Here’s pics of it https://www.pilotsofamerica.com/com...-oshkosh-and-beyond.96649/page-7#post-2135819 post #269

    Paging @Pilawt
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  3. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    NB There is at least one spot where power lines cross the river. Know where that is!

    -Skip
     
  4. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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  5. Pilawt

    Pilawt Final Approach

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    I've done it with a 2,500' ceiling, and a little lower in a Super Cub, but only after making sure visibility below the clouds is excellent, that the east end (and preferably everything from Hood River eastward) is wide open, and that there are no significant winds. Winds can make life miserable in the Gorge, and make maneuvering more difficult.

    Keep airspeed down, and be spring-loaded ready to turn around and go back if you can't see past the next bend in the river. I wouldn't want to try it with anything more than very light precip. Know where the Cascade Locks (KCZK) airport is, just in case.

    Today, for example, winds are light and variable at 4S2 and DLS, but out of the east at 25-30 at TTD. Even though the ceilings are decent, and better to the east, it would not be a day I'd try it. 10-15 knots end-to-end would be about my limit when flying that low. Years ago there used to be a weather reporting station at CZK; too bad it's gone now.

    It's a good idea, but don't count on everybody else doing it. Turn on every light you got. Below 3,000 TRACON radar can't see you east of Bonneville Dam

    According to the article, that one is east of DLS. There are a lot of towers and wires around Bonneville Dam; chart says the highest is 439' MSL (345' AGL).

    Some pics:
    Eastbound approaching Bonneville Dam, with clear sky ahead:

    IMG_2760_HDR.jpg

    IMG_2762_HDR.jpg

    Another trip, eastbound between Hood River and The Dalles:

    IMG_2513.jpg
     
  6. DesertNomad

    DesertNomad Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks for the pics. I'm thinking conditions will need to be better than 15kts, 10mi visibility and 3000' ceiling. KCZK is a pretty short strip so I'd like to avoid having to land there by not setting out in conditions that might require it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2018
  7. Let'sgoflying!

    Let'sgoflying! Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I've flown the right side in the few cases I did this. Unless there was wind, then I stayed on the uplift side.