Flight Simulator Co-Pilot

by Charles Gulick


Salt Lake City Int'l, UT to Brigham City, UT

Scenery Disk 5.
North: 17636. East: 8720. Altitude: 4228. Pitch: 0.
Bank:0. Heading: 315. Airspeed: 0. Throttle: 0.
Rudder: 32767. Ailerons: 32767. Flaps: 0. Elevators: 32767.
Time: 14:00. Season: 1. Cloud Layer 1:15000,13000.*
Surface Wind: 5 kn., 330 deg.

*Only if your mountains are green. If they appear black, then there are no clouds.

We couldn't be this close to Great Salt Lake without touring some of it. Go into radar, and view it on your display.

“Great” is the right adjective. This is the largest brine lake on the North American continent and, next to the Great Lakes, the largest lake in the U.S. One remarkable aspect is how shallow it is, with a maximum depth of only about 30 feet. Averaging 72 miles long and some 30 miles wide at its widest point, the lake has an area of approximately 2000 square miles. However, Great Salt Lake is rapidly increasing in size and has become a serious flood threat. Still, it's only a shadow of its ancestor, Lake Bonneville, which covered a major portion of the Great Basin in prehistoric times. You may have partaken of both on your eggs this morning, since 600 million pounds of salt are extracted from Great Salt Lake every year.

Speaking of Bonneville, the Bonneville Salt Flats of auto racing fame are about 90 miles west of where you're sitting.

Salt Lake City itself, founded in 1847 by the Mormon Community under Brigham Young, has a unique history as a part of the even more unique history of the Mormon Church. The story of Mormonism has the qualities of great drama and the mighty legends of antiquity, but it is a true story.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont, and grew up on a farm in western New York State. Beginning at the age of fifteen, he had visions in which a heavenly messenger, Moroni, told him to found a church. The visions continued for seven years. In 1827, Smith claimed to have discovered a set of golden tablets, inscribed with hieroglyphs, which with the help of Moroni he translated and published as The Book of Mormon. The tablets held the record of a sacred history, including that of a migration from Jerusalem to the Americas, which began 600 years before Christ. The author of the history was Mormon, a prophet and warrior said to have lived in America in the fourth century A.D.

One of the Articles of Faith was that Zion, a New Jerusalem, was to be built on the American continent. Harassed and persecuted by outsiders for their polygamy, their claim to have divine authority, and other beliefs and habits, Smith and his followers moved west. They tried to settle in Ohio, then Missouri, then Illinois, but were attacked and driven out by other settlers. Founder Joseph Smith, imprisoned in Nauvoo, Illinois, for destroying the presses of a newspaper that had criticized Mormonism, was lynched by a mob. He was succeeded by Brigham Young who, hoping to find refuge from persecution for the church and its followers, led an advance party of 143 men, 3 women, 2 children, and 72 covered wagons 1400 miles across the Great Plains from Nauvoo to what came to be known as the Jordan Valley, in which Salt Lake City is situated and where he finally made his historic “This is the place” proclamation.

The advance party was followed by thousands of the faithful in wagons and on foot with their few belongings on their backs or in pushcarts. Hundreds died of exposure, disease, and starvation enroute. In Utah, which they called Deseret (which does not mean desert, but is the Jaredite word for “honeybee” in the Book of Mormon), they fought an Indian war, built systems to use melting snow from the mountains for irrigation, and gradually converted the bleak landscape into farmland. Today, the agricultural aspects of Salt Lake City have given way to residential neighborhoods, green lawns, trees, and beautiful gardens. The most notable structures in the city are the Mormon Temple in Temple Square and the great Mormon Tabernacle, famed for its construction and acoustics and for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I was privileged to climb up many flights of steep, narrow wooden stairs and through the mighty rafters of the Tabernacle with a Mormon business friend as my escort. There is not a single nail in that incredible timber structure. It is meticulously and lovingly fitted to endure forever, locked piece by piece, as it soars heavenward, with hand-fashioned wooden rods and spikes.

But it's time that we were on our way. Runway 32, a short strip crossing the parallel major runways at an angle, is just to your right.

Since the Great Salt Lake is 4202 feet above sea level, let's plan a cruise altitude of 5500.

As you climb out, you'll see hilly Antelope Island on the left side of your windshield. Make a standard-rate turn to the left to skirt its southern tip, starting as soon as you reach your cruise altitude. Roll out on a heading of about 230 degrees. Then when you're clear of Antelope, correct your heading by approximately 10 degrees to the right so that you are aimed toward the southern tip of the second island, which is Carrington Island. Use your radar to observe where you are going, and aim to follow the lake where it bends around Carrington. The big mountain on the left of your screen is the one we saw when we flew out of Provo—Deseret Peak.

The highway along the south shore, visible out the left side and, shortly, ahead of you, is Interstate 80, also known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Highway, which traverses the Great Salt Lake desert. There are three major military installations out there—Hill Air Force Range north of I-80, Wendover Bombing and Gunnery Range, and Dugway Proving Grounds south of it. Further west, near Wendover and just this side of the Nevada border, are the Bonneville Salt Flats.

A left rear view during your flight toward beautiful Carrington Island reveals Timpanogos, Alta, Sunset Peak, and Mt. Olympus, punctuating the landscape between Provo and Salt Lake City.

Follow the lake clockwise around Carrington, then fly approximately parallel to the west shore.

When you're about a third of the way up the lake, look on radar and you'll see Promontory Point at about two o'clock. Take the maximum closeup view that includes the point, squared off on three sides. Turn to aim at the center of the near side. Your heading will be approximately 6 degrees, and you'll soon discern the point through your windshield.

If you look at your Salt Lake City Sectional, you'll see what's happening. You're heading in the general direction of Brigham City, Utah, and its airport. Now that you know where you are going, fly it as you see it. The one runway at Brigham City is 16/34, the same numbers from which we departed Salt Lake City International. So you know what direction to land. Use your chart to help you get into position, paying particular attention to your bearings with respect to the lake and I-15 going north out of Salt Lake City; in other words, fly contact. After all, that's why there are mountains, rivers, lakes, highways, and cities in the world—to help pilots locate airports.

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