Mt Pinatubo Lost in Plain View

The first time I flew up to Mt Pinatubo I could just catch a glimpse of the caldera lake hidden in the clouds. On the second day of flight training at Subic Bay I tried again to get to the lake but the cloud cover sat quietly over the volcanic peak hiding the view.

As the rim of the caldera is only a few hundred feet above the surrounding peaks the volcano is difficult to find. Before the last eruption of 1991/1992 the volcano lie dormant for over 600 years. During that period the rain forests smothered the slopes and erased the collective memory of the local residents. The 330,000 villagers living in the area didn’t realize that this was a dangerous place to live.

On the third and last training day we finally got a clear day and were able to fly past the peak of Mt Pinatubo. Even then it was hard to find.

Local hiking trail to get up to the Mt Pinatubo caldera lake.

First glimpse. Mt Pinatubo Caldera Lake


In 2001 the local government decided that the lake was building up too much of a reservoir creating a hazard where the drainage water eroding the soft volcanic rock could break the natural dam loose and flood the downstream regions. You can see the difference in the lake’s size here. This cut down my potential takeoff area for the seaplane and ended my hopes of landing in the lake. I will have to wait until we get a Super Caravan on amphibs.

Local camp for hikers visiting Mt Pinatubo caldera lake.

The natural drainage “cut” in the caldera rim was dredged out by authorities to prevent the reservoir from getting too large and creating a flood hazard.

This year’s volcanic activity in pictures


About John S Goulet

Air Transport Pilot, consultant, writer, blogger and photographer with 45 years in Professional Aviation.
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