40 More Great Flight Simulator Adventures

by Charles Gulick

Lake Washington

In Search of
the Floating

North Position: 21481 Rudder: 32767
East Position: 6738 Ailerons: 32767
Altitude: 50 Flaps: 0
Pitch: 0 Elevators: 32767
Bank: 0 Time: 9:00
Heading: 250 Season: 4-Fall
Airspeed: 0 Wind: 5 Kts, 245
Throttle: 0

There's this body of water called Lake Washington on the east side of Seattle. And there's this island called Mercer Island in the center of the lake. And there are supposed to be these "Lake Washington floating bridges," which are a tourist attraction. And the Piper version of the simulator even claims, as one of its interesting topical features, "Mercer Island and Evergreen Point Floating Bridges."

    As far as I can remember, I've never seen a floating bridge. Also, I've never been to the state of Washington, let alone to Seattle, except in the simulator.

    So I would like to find these floating bridges and see them up close. Although I've flown frequently in the Seattle area and noted a few bridges crossing water here and there, they looked like just ordinary simulator "bridges," which are simply ordinary highway lines crossing bodies of water.

    This morning, you be the pilot and I'll be the navigator as we try to find any bridge over Lake Washington which is more than a highway-type pencil line.

    As far as I can tell, there are just three bridges which have anything to do with Lake Washington. One is a few miles north of Mercer Island and connects Bellevue, Washington, to central Seattle. The other two connect Bellevue to Mercer Island and then Mercer Island to, again, central Seattle.


We're looking out at runway 25, Flying F Ranch Airport, Monroe, Washington. Tune your NAV to Seattle VORTAC, 116.8, so we'll have an idea how far we are from the Seattle area. However, we won't fly there in a straight line. Instead, we'll fly west a bit and then point south.


Take off normally, but get level and in slow flight at 1000 feet. We'll want to do some close-up observing, and I forgot my binoculars.

    Keep your takeoff heading for a bit. That's Harvey Field off to your right, and presently the strip at Martha Lake Airport will appear on your left. Snohomish County is the big airport beyond and to the right.

    The highway on the other side of Martha Lake is Interstate 5. Turn and track it south as you come up on the airport.

    Follow I-5 where it bends westward, but keep the highway a bit to your right. Presently, you'll be able to see the northern banks of Lake Washington up ahead. Aim for the center of the lake. You'll be able to see where you are very clearly on radar.

    Don't turn where the lake bends left, but stay straight on your course. You'll be flying over a little nub named Sand Point. When you can make out the northernmost of the bridges crossing the lake, turn left a little to fly across its approximate center.

    Pause whenever and wherever you like to examine the bridge closely, from all possible angles. Does it look like it's floating? Or does it just look like any other simulator bridge crossing a highway.

    I vote this first bridge no candidate for a floater. So if there are floating bridges (plural), then they must be the two bridges still ahead of us.


Take a close-up radar view that shows Mercer Island and the two bridges connecting it to Seattle on the right and Bellevue on the left. Then turn right to overfly the approximate center of the one crossing from Seattle.

    Again, examine this bridge closely for signs that it's floating. When you can't see it out front anymore, look down and watch it pass under you.

    Did you see it?

    Now fly counterclockwise around Mercer Island, and then north to inspect the other bridge, to Bellevue, again overflying its approximate center.

    Well, they're nice bridges, aren't they? And Lake Washington is a very attractive lake. But if those bridges can float, then so can all the other bridges in the simulator.

    Except, of course, that stalwart bridge by your airport in downtown Manhattan, the airport for which I floated that multimillion dollar loan. And I haven't even got a thank you note.

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