Myself sitting in a Cessna 172

Flying in the Pacific Northwest

by Steve Kuo, March 13, 2007

I am a Private Pilot and enjoy flying Cessna 172's of out Auburn Airport (S50). Airplanes are very expensive to buy and operate. Unless you fly a lot (more than a few hundred hours per year), it makes economical sense to rent or join a partnership. I chose to join Valley Fliers, a 60 member club that owns four airplanes - two Cessna 172's, one Piper Cherokee 180 and one Cessna 182. Members pay for airplanes only when the engine is running. The Cessna 172 costs $65/hour. This means that you can fly the airplane somewhere for lunch or shopping, and only pay for the actual engine-on usage. As an example, Auburn to Port Angeles is about 1.5 hours, whereas driving there would take 4 hours.

Most of the time I just fly around the Seattle area for sightseeing and photography. Occasionally I'll use the airplane as actual transportation and fly somewhere far away like Portland, OR or Forks, WA.

Below are some of my favorite pictures flying in the Pacific Northwest.
Jump directly to Boeing Manufacturing and Seatac Airport

Bainbridge Island ferry terminal
Bainbridge Island ferry terminal

Cargo ship in Puget Sound
Cargo ship in Puget Sound

Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood
Seattle's Greenwood neighborhood

Bremerton's Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
Bremerton's Puget Sound Naval Shipyard

Olympic Mountains near Puget Sound
Olympic Mountains near Puget Sound (available in Wikimedia Commons)

C-17's at McChord Air Force Base
C-17's at McChord Air Force Base

Oak Harbor's (76S) very narrow runway, one of my favorite airports
Oak Harbor's (76S) very narrow runway, one of my favorite airports

Yelm (92W) offers a great view of Mount Rainier
Yelm (92W) offers a great view of Mount Rainier

Lake Tapps with the water level looking pretty low
Lake Tapps with the water level looking pretty low

Boeing Manufacturing

Seattle is home to The Boeing Company's Renton and Everett manufacturing facilities. Renton assembles the 737 while Everett builds the wide body 747, 767 and 777.

A pair of new Singapore Airlines 777's at Boeing's Everett facility
A pair of new Singapore Airlines 777's at Boeing's Everett facility

Renton Airport (RNT), mostly general aviation and Boeing
Renton Airport (RNT), mostly general aviation and Boeing

A bunch of unpainted 737's on the Boeing ramp at Renton
A bunch of unpainted 737's on the Boeing ramp at Renton

Seatac Airport

Seattle's airspace allows for a VFR crossing directly over Seatac Airport (SEA). This allows East/West transitioning aircraft to avoid flying excessively far North/Sound around Seatac's airspace. This can save a bit of time and provides for an enjoyable view of the airport.

Getting the clearance to enter Seattle's Class B airspace is easy. If departing Auburn Airport you call up the tower on 119.9 MHz and say "Seattle Tower Cessna 12345 just off of Auburn climbing through 900 feet, Westbound transition". The tower will assign a transponder code and may ask for a squawk ident. Once radar identified a clearance will be issued to cross the North or South end of the runway at 1,500 feet. That's all there is to it. You then cross over the airport and enjoy the view of commercial airplanes taking off and landing underneath.

Overview of Seatac Airport. To the right is Seatac's third runway, 16R-34L, still under construction
Overview of Seatac Airport. To the right is Seatac's third runway, 16R-34L, still under construction

Seatac's South Terminal, mostly Northwest Airlines
Seatac's South Terminal, mostly Northwest Airlines

FedEx A300 at the cargo ramp
FedEx A300 at the cargo ramp

American Airlines MD-80 holding short of the runway
American Airlines MD-80 holding short of the runway

All content and photos Copyright © 2007 Steve Kuo. All rights reserved.