Originally Posted by BobTurner
Interesting what a difference a 'few' miles can make. We came back to LVK on Monday afternoon from KGCD/John Day, in eastern OR, via Lakeview, Redding, down the central valley, and while it was smokey it was always VMC, visibilities over 5, we could see the ground 10 miles away as well as blue sky above, etc.
Interesting. I wondered how far east you would have to go to be smoke free-ish.
I looked at a route during planning that was something like PDX DSD LMT RBL SAC and then another EUB ONP OTH CEC FOT ENI STS CCR but decided against them for a few reasons.
1. The MEAs were no better or sometimes even higher.
2. We were going to be IFR but somewhat stuck to victor airways instead of GPS direct. The route down EUG RBG FJS OED SAC cleared all the TFRs and was pretty close to on track anyway considering a start in KPDX. Yes, we were vector equipped but I wasn't going to count on that at the lowest IFR altitudes out in the mountain west were radar coverage down low is not super.
3. Going far enough east to be somewhat smoke free would have added almost an hour to the flight. The flight was already 3.5 plus hours. No need to add unnecessary flight time (says the guy who is in the airplane for 10 hours every time he goes to work).
4. Going down the coast had the added joy of even fewer places to bail to in an emergency. I brought a jacket in my backpack in case we went down in the mountains but I didn't bring a swimsuit or life vest.
While the route chosen put us in the thick of the smoke with the fire TFRs burning on both side of the route, the plan was to be IFR anyway. The smoke was pretty thick in places. When we were in the Medford to Fort Jones area at 11,000 the ground was not visible and we were only about 4-5 thousand feet above it in places so visibilities were down to a mile or so. Most of the time you could start to see clear air above but it was obvious it was going to be several thousand more feet to get there.
To be clear, it was either get to go flying with Jeremy or sit in the office and try and stem the seemingly endless flow of paperwork required by the FAA. Thanks for allowing me an excuse to duck out of the office for a day. Let's see, flying-paperwork, flying-paperwork. It wasn't a hard choice.