We launched from blue skies in Pitt Meadows and instead of flying to smoke-choked Lillooet for lunch as the Awesome Plan called for, we headed to Vernon CYVK, diverting around a couple of fires (which were located exactly where Pacific Radio said they’d be) and pockets of smoke (which were located exactly where firesmoke.ca forecast them to be). As new fires continued to break out, this was to be the only time during our trip that www.firesmoke.ca gave an accurate forecast as to where the smoke was going, and the only time that Pacific Radio was equally as accurate….
En-route to Vernon, while passing through Kelowna’s ATC zone, an aircraft ahead reported a fire breaking out on the east bank of Okanagan Lake. ATC directed us to keep to our planned heading but quickly climb, and to stay over the west bank, to clear a route for water-bombers. Ten minutes later as we climbed on our heading over the west shore, we watched water-bombers circle the fire, which looked like molten lava pouring down the mountainside. I was PIC and had my hands full fighting funky turbulence, while David handled the radios and snapped a quick photo as we skeddadled out of there.
Blue skies and local family greeted us at Vernon. The little Vernon flying club was, alas, locked up tight, but the wee `terminal building’ was open (with much appreciated toilets available and air-conditioned lounge).
Before retiring for the night at the Holiday Inn, we consulted with Pacific Radio, studied smoke & weather forecasts, & planned to depart Vernon by noon the next day, to head for Oliver CAU3, to camp under the wing and the stars.
Vernon airport map: