Last June 6th we wrote about touring Nueva Ecija in a flying soda can — a mysterious lake and a World War II airstrip. Earlier, we shared pictures and stories flying over northern Pangasinan — Lingayen Gulf, the Hundred Islands, and the power plant attacked by the killer salabay.
We now tour Central Luzon, best seen low and slow. Our ‘backyard’ is big enough to play in, small enough so that we can see it all on a full tank of avgas.
If you know how to find your way around, that is. We did promise to share the secret of how pilots REALLY find their way… .
Concepcion, Tarlac, is the birthplace of Ninoy Aquino, the martyr assasinated at what is now the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.
Exactly 10 miles from Clark, Concepcion is the northern VFR reporting point when entering or leaving the Clark control zone.
When you aren’t sure where you are, you fly low over a town — the name will probably be painted on a school or municipal hall’s rooftop 🙂
It sure is nice of this municipality to identify itself to pilots!
Zaragosa is the second waypoint in the 90-mile “outpattern” navigational training route of Omni Aviation. There are no roads from Concepcion, the first waypoint, to Zaragosa. So cheating via IFR (“I Follow the Road”) won’t work for student pilots — they need to learn real pilotage. And navigating to Zaragosa is key to flying the remaining 6 waypoints in the maze.
Mexico, Pampanga, the fifth waypoint, is almost impossible to miss. Someone with an airdale’s pizazz has painted the roof of his warehouse like the national flag of…
… You guessed it — Mexico! Can you see it? 🙂
Central Luzon is a rice granary — this is where nearly all our domestic rice is planted and harvested. Below, San Roque, halfway between Gapan, Nueva Ecija, and San Miguel, Bulacan, is surrounded by bountiful rice fields ready for harvest.
San Roque. The diagonal feature is an abandoned railway.
We’ve flown over the rice fields and fish ponds when they are emerald green and rich with treasure at harvest time…
Tarlac-Subic highway construction, at Concepcion
… When they are furrowed and parched in summer …
Haystacks and plowed fields, near Cabanatuan
… When they are fertile and planted with seedlings …
Newly planted ricefields, near Magalang, Pampanga
… And when they are pitifully submerged by typhoons.
Flooded rice fields, near Mt. Arayat
The typhoon season ravages Luzon just before harvest time, and it is heartbreaking to fly over fields flush and bursting with grain one week, and then see them completely submerged and ruined the next week. Water everywhere, as far as the eye can see.
I flew with Jaime U., a professional photographer, and he took these pictures of the same river I flew over just a week later. Rural serenity one week, …
… Widespread calamity the next 😦
We love flying over the waterways of Central Luzon. The fishermen on the pencil-thin bancas never fail to wave.
Mt. Arayat, an extinct volcano 3,100 feet high, stands sentinel over the plain. In the 1950’s the Hukbalahap communist guerrilla movement owned all of Mt. Arayat.
Today they probably own most of the surrounding countryside as well 🙂
In the southern shadow of Mt. Arayat is the town of Arayat, Pampanga.
I often see religious processions when I fly over Arayat on Sundays.
There is a weir on the river, near Arayat. Irrigation control.
Near San Fernando, Pampanga, is the small hill where they hold crucifixions, on Good Friday. I took this picture a couple of years ago. The crosses are on the round, barren hill.
The picture was taken from about 1,500 feet. That’s near enough. I’m not sure I ever want to see a real crucifixion up close.
To be concluded — Ben Hur’s aviation farm, ultralights and what was once the most secret airbase in the Philippines.