Coping With the Oso TFR

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On March 21 a historic land slide devastated a little community east of Oso, about 15 miles from Arlington airport. And since March 23 a "temporary" flight restriction zone (TFR) with a radius of 8 nm and up to 6000 ft has been in effect. Unfortunately this TFR, which extends to Jordan Ridge and Ebey Hill, makes XC soaring for AWO pilots considerably more difficult. While nobody wants to interfere with the ongoing salvage operations at the land slide and all would agree with reasonable demands to keep the disaster area free from interference by extraneous traffic, the current size (valid now up to April 30) seems to be out of proportion. It should not take 266 square miles to shield the disaster area from conflicting air traffic. So far any suggestions to review the required size of the TFR have been met with "we want to keep people away".


However, as annoying the current situation may be, it is still possible in most conditions to get away from Arlington, including flying into the mountains, one just has to accept some detours and probably weaker conditions at first. An example is the following flight on March 31 that went around the TFR counterclockwise (the TFR location is approximate):

The first leg involved a somewhat tedious course along the TFR via Jordan Ridge and Pilchuck, trying to gain a good working altitude and to get into the higher country (normally one would choose a more direct route east, probably to Threefinger Mountain). Because thermals were still developing and because the first leg involved also gaining 2800 ft, it took 11 thermals and 1 hour and 10 minutes to cover 22 miles. But then conditions were more in line with mountain flying at this time of the year and the rest of the flight - some 125 miles - took only 17 more thermals, resulting in an overall speed of 38.4 mph. This is nothing to brag about and indicates a flight with many back tracks and off course deviations but it does show that reasonable XC flights are still possible from AWO.