Learning to Fly with Flight Simulator

by John Rafferty

Solo Training Assignment (II)

Seattle-Tacoma to Snohomish and Return

This is a pleasant, short hop of only 28 miles, with a route that's almost a perfect straight line from one runway to the other. The navigation involved is therefore negligible, so the flight is perfect for practicing the basics. The one-way trip will take about 15 minutes, and after landing at Snohomish you'll turn around and return to Seattle Tacoma.

Enter the following set-up parameters to get started.

Set-Up for Seattle-Tacoma

These parameters will put you on the ramp at Seattle-Tacoma International (Henry M. Jackson), with the airplane parked near the fuel pumps.

Departure. As shown by the Seattle Area Chart, Seattle-Tacoma has only two runways, which are parallel and close together. You'll depart from Runway 34 Right, so you need only taxi ahead, turn slightly, and then follow the taxi strip to the end, where you'll need to make a 180° turn onto the runway.

You could turn onto the runway earlier, but it's good practice to begin your takeoff roll right at the runway threshold—give yourself as much real estate as you can.

En Route. Runway 34 Right will give you a departure heading of 340°. Maintain that initial heading and climb to 2500 feet; then level off.

Boeing Field is directly ahead. Interstate 5 passes just to the right of the field, to the east, then crosses your flight path and continues along on your left.

Setting Up For the Approach. As you approach Snohomish, Interstate 5 turns back to the east again, so you'll cross over it a second time, as it continues off to your right. That's your checkpoint for your set-up procedure. Have the airplane all set up before you reach that point.

Descent and Landing. As you cross the highway, throttle back and begin your descent. The airport should be clearly visible by now, directly ahead.

When the runway direction becomes distinct, line the airplane up for the final approach. You'll have to turn right a bit, then left again to get lined up; keep the banks shallow, and be patient as the airplane comes around.

You're landing on Runway 34, so your inbound heading on final approach will be just about 340°.

The field elevation at Snohomish is 603 feet. Locate 603 feet on the altimeter dial and fix that point firmly in your mind; then monitor the altimeter as you approach the runway threshold.

Return Flight. After landing at Snohomish, taxi down to the end of runway 34 and turn around; then get into position for takeoff there at the end. This is now Runway 16, so your departure heading will be around 160°. (Did you remember to raise the flaps and center the controls?)

Maintain that heading of 160° on the way back, and then use your radar view to locate the airport and Runway 16 Left.

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