Every year at Christmas, Carlo and Tonet fly an aerial odyssey. From December 23 to January 4 they did 1,600 nautical miles in 9 days, logging over 20 flight hours. Not bad for a Cessna 152.
They took hundreds of pictures. Thumbnails are click-able. Photos are copyrighted.
On December 27 Carlo and Tonet sat in the airplane, ready for engine start, flight planned for Baguio, in the mountains of northern Luzon. Just then, Baguio tower sent word that bad weather had closed the airport.
They revised their flight plan — a tour of Pinatubo volcano and Zambales instead.
Pinatubo was dormant for 600 years before it’s cataclysmic eruption in 1991, which turned a thousand feet of solid mountain into a massive pycroclastic debris cloud that circled the earth’s troposphere several times. The eruptions smothered Central Luzon in lahar mud and ash, burying several towns and sending walls of lava, mud and lahar rampaging down rivers, submerging farmland and demolishing bridges and highways.
Today, with a thousand feet of its summit missing, Pinatubo is quiet. Carlo, writing his first article since turning 21 in August, is not.
This is supposed to be the year when I officially grow up. Let me see, 21 years old? Check. Apartment? Check. Knowledge of the fine points of beer and good wine? Check. Diploma and job? Getting there. Eats vegetables? Check.
My name is Carlo, and I eat my vegetables without being told to, and this worries me immensely.
Oh yeah, I’m back! 😀
My goodness, am I really twenty-one? I joke with people that I feel about twelve – not that they have trouble noticing. But I notice signs. Subtle ones, like being excited on getting a new cell phone and a new bookshelf for Christmas. A bookshelf! Any self-respecting kid or teenager would wince at the thought. Me, I get excited. Maybe I’m getting older. Or weirder. Both.
Amazing anecdotes, eye-popping photography.
Yes! I’m a kid on Christmas Day again.
He can be my wingman any time!
“Let’s go flying!” With the exception of a rain-soaked trio of takeoffs and landings with Omni’s Captain R in the right seat, this is my first flight in nearly three months. Tonet, ever generous, insists that I take the left seat.
Of course, he also insists that I file the flight plans. Oh, the burdens of command.
“1513 now airborne!”
Tonet calls for spiraling climbs to 5,500 feet, then straight and level photo runs over Pinatubo.
My awareness of the aircraft, from pitch to radio to cylinder head temperature, is higher than it has ever been.
God, the view!
Climbing hard to 6,000 feet over the southern flank of Mt. Pinatubo
The lake inside Pinatubo’s crater has a color unlike any I have seen in nature, a brilliant turquoise blue. No photograph I’ve seen quite succeeds at capturing it. I’m hoping Tonet’s ten megapixel Nikon will.
Pinatubo looking south, Subic bay in the distance
The turquoise is a visual shock compared to the imposing gray cliffs flanking the lake on every side.
Flying over Pinatubo caldera, looking west to the South China Sea
We spend a few minutes admiring the volcano that once wrecked much of Luzon, and I find myself hoping it will be at least another six hundred years before this beauty is interrupted and flame-broiled again.
Two volcanos, Mt. Pinatubo and Mt Arayat, Central Luzon, Philippines
Next in this series: Iba and the Hermana islands, Zambales