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Cruising In The San Juan Islands (WA)

Fri Jun 30, 2006 11:23 am

Hey guys,

Since there aren't very many TRs about GA flights, I decided I would post one since it was such a kick ass flight! So the routing goes as follows...

BFI-ORS (or ESD)-Roche Harbor-FHR-SEA-BFI


I flew this route in a Cessna 172SP with GPS but no glass cockpit. I flied my flight plan with Seattle Radio, then got dispatched, pre-flighted, and taxied to runway 31R.

After run-up, I called Seattle Flight Service and opened my VFR flight plan from BFI-ORS. We had about 40 gallons of fuel onboard, so takeoff was a little quicker than normal. We flew straight out past the space needle, called Seattle Departure to get flight following, and climbed to 4500 feet into SEA class B airspace. We tracked the 180 radial to the PAE VOR and got an excellent view of some heavies on the Boeing Ramp. We then made a right turn and tracked the 310 radial outbound all the way to Orcas Island. I got to tell you right now: if you have a private license, come to Washington and take a flight in the San Juan Islands. There is absolutely nothing like it in the world. Or, buy a ticket on Kenmore Air and take a flight up there. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world!

We flew straight in to runway 34 at Orcas Island. I had to take a wicked piss so we parked the plane and to a walk around the airport. While we were there, a T-51 airplane did a low flyby and buzzed the whole airport! Pretty cool. I then bought myself a coke and took off out of Orcas to go to Roche Harbor.

ESD-WA09 (Roche Harbor)

Roche Harbor is a private airport that has the worst design of any airport I have ever been to. It is engulfed by trees with a 35 foot long runway by 4300 feet that goes up a hill and isn't even straight! It is like an S curve! It scared the s**t out of me and I went around. I then made the quick hop over to FHR for a quick landing. FHR is a great airport right next to the water and an easy walk from the city. It also has customs  Smile

FHR-BFI (through SEA)

After departing FHR, I flew low over the Sound because there were lots of boats, and sure enough, I saw at least 5 whales jump in the sound! Awesome! From there, I climbed to 5500 feet and flew towards Port Angeles to avoid Whidbey Island's Class C airspace. I then intercepted the 310 radial on the SEA VOR and tracked it to Bainbridge Island, then turned south towards Vashon Island to get to the VFR corridor across SEA. At this point, I had descended to 1500 feet and gotten SEA ATIS. The controllers at SEA were very helpful, and I crossed right over the numbers as an SK A343 landed from CPH!

I had a great view of all the terminals. The N satellite looked like a ghost, with one UA plane and two AS planes (MD80 and 734). The D terminal was jumping with AS planes, as was the C terminal. The C2 QX terminal wasn't too busy, although two were on final. The B terminal had one CO 738 w/ winglets, two SW 733s and two 73Gs with winglets. I guess B6 moved there recently. The A terminal consisted of one US A319 and one A320, one HP 733, an AA Super 80 and 757, and a DL 738 and 757. Since I passed directly over the S satellite, all I got were a BA 744, a NW 753, 752, A320, and a 752 landing on 34L. Also, two QX Dash 8s from Canada.

After passing over the S satellite, we made a left turn and called BFI tower. We went straight in to 31R, and made a smooth touchdown. Total flight time was just over two hours.

That concludes my amazing trip to the San Juans. Seriously, go check them out. Great place to fly, hike, camp, lounge, or really anything. Hope you enjoyed my trip report. Sorry for no pictures, but I was kind of busy flying the plane  Smile Take care.

From YVR
Posts: 1750
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2005 1:27 pm

RE: Cruising In The San Juan Islands (WA)

Fri Jun 30, 2006 2:59 pm

Cool trip report! You are right, the San Juans are really nice, I have gone there by boat. I would also recommend the Canadian part, the Gulf Islands.

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