Friday Photo: deviating around a forest fire

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CO Forest Fire 2020 10 16 600 - Friday Photo: deviating around a forest fire

The view: October 16, 2020. Friday afternoon cross-country flight from Telluride (TEX) to Omaha (MLE), just south of Denver at 11,000 ft.

The pilot: David Lennox

The airplane: 1999 Saratoga IITC (PA32-301T)

The mission: One leg of a round-the-country flight visiting five national parks from Boston, MA, across north to northwest, southwest, then back to Boston.

The memory: My wife and I were flying from TEX through/near Denver to MLE on afternoon of 10/16/20 in otherwise good weather. As we were approaching Denver airspace, we asked to deviate to left to avoid what looked like an unpredicted storm coming in from the northwest. The controller suggested there was no storm activity in the area, but permitted the deviation anyway. Shortly after, we found ourselves between layers of what we thought was the edge of the “storm cell” off our left wing. Not until that evening, did we understand why we also detected a faint smell of smoke. We were concerned and considered landing, but the smell dissipated shortly thereafter. The “cell” and smell were instead caused by the smoke from one of the largest forest fires in CO history.

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