Fly Away Simulation

Columbia River Tour

Guest Ed Guest

Well, after crashing 747s from coast to coast, I decided it was time for something a little more manageable. I'm at the age where I know what are my talents, and what are my limitations, and now I realize that some people just aren't cut out to be 747 pilots. 😂

I had a couple of days of fun flying my old favorite, the Lear Jet 45, up the western US, when the inspiration for another tour came along.

I had been flying up the central valley of California, across Oregon, and through Washington to land at Seattle (KSEA). It was such a scenic tour (described in detail in the "B2 Bomber came to lunch" thread) that I decided to spend more time in that part of the world.

I started by renting a Cessna 208 Amphibian at Seattle and flying back to Crater Lake in Oregon. For those who haven't been there, Crater Lake is so named because it is the remnant crater of a huge volcanic explosion, thousands of years ago. Now it is a deep cold lake, miles across, surrounded by the jagged edges of the blasted-out crater, with one little island off on the west end. The island, called Wizard Island, is all that remains of a second volcanic peak which formed after the inital explosion. The lake and the surrouding area is a national park, so of course it's illegal to land a plane on the lake-- so I HAD to put my plane there. 😀

If you want to attempt this stupid sim trick, the surface of the lake is at 6180 feet, and the lowest part of the rim (to the northeast) is at about 7000 feet, so that's the way to come in.

After after taxiing around Wizard Island on the lake, I took off again and headed to the northwest and landed at Astoria, Oregon (KAST), right on the mouth of the Columbia River. My wife and I visited there many years ago, when we did our first long driving trip in the first car we bought together after we married, and I have always remember it as a beautiful spot. To the west is the mighty Pacific Ocean, and to the north, across the Columbia River, is the state of Washington. The town is spread up the hillside overlooking the river, and when we were there was wreathed in a patchy fog. Very pretty.

I spent one sim-night in Astoria, then started up the Columbia, with the intention of flying all the way to the source of the river at Columbia Lake, in British Columbia (that's in Canada, for those of you who slept through geography class 😉 ).

I've been taking it low and slow, usually just flying a thousand feet or so above the river. Since the course of the river flows through mountainous areas, I am often flying with cliffs on both sides.

My rules for this tour are that I will stay on the river, and always land on the water when I stop for the evening, except when I need fuel, when I will land on an airport with a few miles of the river. So far, that should be easy because there are lots of little airports along the way, but I haven't needed fuel yet. Actually, I started this tour four days ago, and I'm still only 200 miles from Astoria! This is truly "low'n'slow" flying (although the C208A can move along at about 140 kias at this altitude).

So far I have stopped on the river near Cascade Locks State Airport (KCZK), the town of Boardman (nearest airport M50), and last night I set it down near Pangborn Memorial Airport (KEAT) somewhere north of Richland, Washington.

After I reach Columbia Lake, I'm considering a continuation of the tour by flying to the source of the Mississippi River in Minnesota, and following that river to the Gulf of Mexico.

I like flying the amphibian because there is a great deal of freedom in where you can go and where you can land-- any patch of water will do. No need to ask ATC for permission, just drop the flaps, cut the throttle, and set 'er down (just watch out for bridges!). This is my second amphibious tour, and I still have never actually landed on an "amphibious" airport. I suppose I should try it some day.


Pro Member First Officer
mrkonk First Officer

Cool tour I will try that some time. I only live 30 miles from crater lake,and have snomobiled there several times.

Pro Member First Officer
Steve (megafoot) First Officer

That really sounds like a fun trip 🙂

I want to download a Beaver Float plane (its a 2 seater i think) and do Alaska and Western Canada sometime. Now all i need are virtual Fly Rod and some virtual Cutter for them darn virtual skeeters! oh and be careful of the virtual Grizzly and Kodiak bears!

Happy (virtual) Trails!

Rick Lee Guest

Hi Megafoot,

see if you find something here ➡


Pro Member Chief Captain
Matthew Shope (mypilot) Chief Captain

When I get mega scenery I'm gunna tour Alaska again in a small plane. Have fun! 😀

Pro Member First Officer
Steve (megafoot) First Officer

WOW! thanks Rick 🙂

I just downloaded the Alaska DHC2 Beaver with floats! ima gonna take it for a spin tonite !

Guest Ed Guest

Hey all, thanks for the kind remarks.

mrkonk, just out of curiousity, does Crater Lake freeze over in the winter? That would be something to see. The only time I was there in real life, there was still snow piled up several feet deep, off the sides of the road, where it had been plowed off the road-- and this was in July!! It must get COLD up there in the winter!!

I continued the tour last night, flying east and north. The first couple of hundred miles of the trip, I was following the Oregon/Washington border (which seems to be in the middle of the Columbia River) but I've finally left Oregon behind.

All along I had been been thinking "There should be dams on this river. I distinctly remember dams," when I came around a big bend and almost ran into the biggest dam'ed dam I could want. Probably not coincidentally, it is located near an airport: Grand Coulee Dam Airport (3W7). Not the most realistic looking dam I ever saw because it's not attached to the valley on either side, but it is big. So I landed downstream, taxied around to have a good look, then took off and flew over to the airport (a few miles away to the south of the dam) to check that out, then continued up river.

Before too long, I left the US of A and entered Canada. We're definitely getting into mountainous terrain now, flying parallel with the western edge of the Rockies, so flying at 1000 feet above the water is kind of like flying down a long, winding, hallway. Occasionally I pop up for a look at the surrounding terrain, but mostly I'm flying low and following the river. In fact, there was an hour or so of foggy/drizzly weather when I had to drop down to 500 feet above the river to stay beneath the clouds.

Fortunately, the weather had cleared by the time I reached Castlegar, BC (airport CYCG), because I decided to land on the airport to refuel-- CYCG has a 5000 foot runway, and the airports get smaller as you go further north.

Castlegar is the the only airport I've ever seen where the ILS localizer is not aligned with the runway. I don't know if it's because the airport is down in a deep valley or if this is just a "feature" of FS09, but the localizer course is 176 degrees for runway 15! If had come in on ILS, I would have needed to do a quick turn of 26 degrees at the runway threshhold!

But I was coming in from the south with a head wind, so I landed VFR on runway 33, fueled up and wandered over to the virtual coffee shop for a virtual burger, and to plan the rest of the trip.

Castlegar is at the junction of the Kootenay River and the Columbia, but it took me about an hour on the Web to figure out which way to go at the fork. Sure would be nice of FS09 had geographical names on the map! But now I know that the western-most tine of this fork in the river is the Columbia, so that's where I'll be going later on today.


Guest Ed Guest

Here's a bit of flight sim weirdness: try creating a flight from Revelstoke, BC (CYRV). The runway is a couple of hundred feet UNDER WATER. There is a shear wall of water (the Columbia River) on three sides of the runway, and a shear wall of rock on the fourth side. I landed on the river nearby, and tried to taxi back to the airport, and found myself plummeting down from the surface of the river toward the runway.

I saw another spot downriver a few miles that looks the same, where a bridge or something crosses the the river, but not so wide or deep.

Oops. 🙄


Guest Ed Guest

I finished the Columbia River tour this evening. Actually, I'm not sure exactly when I finished; in FS09 the river kind of disappears before I thought it should, based on information I found on the web. And then, when I reached the area where I thought Columbia Lake should be, there are actually a string of small lakes-- not being sure which one was the real Columbia Lake, I did a touch and go on all three.

Finally, I landed at Fairmount Hot Springs Airport (CYCZ) and refueled before declaring the tour over.

It was a very scenic trip, although not really very long-- I left Astoria, OR, at dawn (about 6 AM) and landed at CYCZ at about 4 PM, on the same sim day. Only 10 hours elapsed time, minus an hour or so for various landings and refueling, cruising at 140 kias-- roughly 1200 miles, total.

To end the trip, I flew east to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (KMSP), in Minnesota, to start my tour of the Mississippi River. The next time I fly, I'll head north to Lake Itasca, the source of the Mississippi, and follow it south 2600 miles or so to New Orleans, Louisiana, on the Gulf of Mexico.


Pro Member First Officer
mrkonk First Officer

No it doesnt freeze over.Too deep.It is over 2000 feet deep!

Guest Ed Guest

mrkonk wrote:

No it doesnt freeze over.Too deep.It is over 2000 feet deep!

Thanks, mrkonk, I didn't know that.


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