A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

Allegheny Special

Chart: Detroit
En Route Coordinates:
   Aircraft: N16648, E19348
   Tower: N16712.768, E19550.093
   Aircraft: 5000
   Tower: 2280
Heading: 056
Time: Daylight

Unpause immediately and fly as you read.

The altimeter (and your engine, too) may be cantankerous around here. Nevertheless, your assignment is to fly from where you are to Johnstown-Cambria Airport, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where you'll land on Runway 09. You're to maintain at least 5000 feet of altitude until you have the air-port in sight. On your right are some ranges of the Allegheny Mountains. You'll navigate by VOR, but more than that I won't disclose. This is one flight where you're entirely on your own.

You'll need to study your chart, obviously, and take a few other things into account too. I'm sure you're up to the job.

Johnstown is the site of the great and terrible flood of May 31, 1889. After extremely heavy rains, a dam across the South Fork of the Conemaugh River, 12 miles above the city, gave way and released 700 acres of water 60 to 70 feet deep. The wall of water coursed through the valley at frightening speed, and in less than an hour Johnstown was almost completely destroyed. Seven other towns in the valley were entirely wiped out. Wreckage piled up against a Pennsylvania railroad bridge, and many people clung to it to escape drowning only to face an equal horror when the wreckage caught fire. Between 2000 and 3000 lives were lost, hundreds of them never identified, and damage was estimated at $12 million. But in a remarkable demonstration of courage and vision, the city was rebuilt over the ruins of the flood (which was not the last the city was to see; it has been repeatedly devastated, most recently in 1977).

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