Flight Training - March 2011 - 42
By Jeffrey Burl
FLIGHT LESSON offers the opportunity for pilots to learn from the experiences of others.
DELAYED NEAR THE GREAT LAKES
he 4.5-hour trip in my Piper Warrior from Greenwood Municipal Airport in Indianapolis to Houghton County Memorial Airport in Hancock, Michigan, would prove to be through a variety of weather, which is typical of the Great Lakes region in late November. Hancock is located on the Keweenaw Peninsula along Lake Superior’s south shore, a little more than 1.5
hours flying north from Green Bay. My ex-wife was to bring my girls to the airport after school while I got the airplane ready for departure. I checked the weather and the forecasts on the morning before the flight, both on the computer and with flight service. The weather in Indianapolis was overcast with 800-foot ceilings and rainy; the temperature was 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The weather at Hancock was about 10 degrees F and clear. The weather was forecast to be overcast and rainy southeast of a cold front, and clearing to the northwest. So I filed an IFR flight plan to Gary, Indiana. I planned this stop because Gary has an ILS and the cold front wasn’t supposed to reach Gary by my arrival time. I hoped to avoid icing until after the stop at Gary. I planned to fly VFR below the Class B airspace along the Lake Michigan shoreline (a standard practice of local pilots). The ceilings at Gary were forecast to be 1,800 feet, high enough to make the shore route possible. I planned to land at Gary and wait for better weather, or, if possible, shoot the approach at Gary to get under the weather and then fly VFR to Milwaukee or Green Bay for fuel. I was supposed to depart at 3:30 p.m., but the girls needed to pack for the trip and did not get to the airport until 5 p.m. This delay would make getting to Gary more problematic, but I departed anyway at about 5:30 p.m. in light rain and was into the clouds at a fairly low altitude. I climbed to 6,000 feet where we were in a heavy overcast, light rain, occasional light turbulence, and the temperature was 65 degrees F. Everything was fine for about 50 miles—then the temperature started to drop. As it fell, I requested and was granted lower altitudes several times until I was about 40 miles from Gary at
Get-there-itis—don't let external pressures force you to make a poor decision. Always have a backup plan, and be ready to use it.
the minimum vectoring altitude. The temperature went from 65 degrees F to 32 degrees F in about 40 miles. I was below the freezing level and started picking up a trace of rime ice. I informed ATC and requested a diversion to the Jasper County Airport. ATC cleared me to Jasper County and provided vectors to the NDB 18 approach, the only instrument approach available. The ceiling at Jasper County was 800 feet broken. The minimum descent altitudes for both the straight-in and the circling approaches also were 800 feet agl. ATC then told me that the weather was better at Kankakee, which was about 30 miles to the west. Making the approach was uncertain at Jasper County, so I accepted the deviation. I arrived at Kankakee and was vectored onto the ILS to Runway 4. On final approach, my groundspeed was 36 knots (airspeed 90 knots), so I had a huge headwind. ATC may have suggested Kankakee because of the tailwind I would have had at Jasper County. I proceeded to fly the ILS expecting to break out at 1,200 feet, only to get to minimums and not see anything. I went to full throttle for the missed and then spotted the approach lights. I landed on Runway 4, which was covered with six inches of slush. I taxied without slowing, parked, and my girls and I were safe. I will never forget the are-you-nuts? look on the face of the guy at the FBO. Some of the lessons learned from this flight were: First, resist the tendency to let external pressures force a flight. Second, plan an escape strategy and follow through with it when flying in weather that may become hazardous. I should have landed at Jasper County or made a 180 and landed at any of a number of airports with acceptable instrument approaches. Third, it is always safer to confess problems and elicit ATC’s help. Good judgment is the result of experience and experience is the result of bad judgment. I definitely gained some experience that night.
What would you have done? Discuss the scenario with your instructor.
Flight Training - March 2011
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - March 2011
Flight Training - March 2011
Air Safety Institute
Since You Asked
Legal Q & A
The Flight Training Experience: Making It Work
Where Do You Stand?
Is This Flightopia?
The 12-Step Lesson Plan
Who Will Fly?
Career Pilot News
Can a CFI Use Pizza in the Cockpit?
Flight Instructor Burnout
By the Numbers
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Training - March 2011
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover2
Flight Training - March 2011 - Contents
Flight Training - March 2011 - 2
Flight Training - March 2011 - 3
Flight Training - March 2011 - President’s Perspective
Flight Training - March 2011 - 5
Flight Training - March 2011 - Right Seat
Flight Training - March 2011 - 7
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Forum
Flight Training - March 2011 - 9
Flight Training - March 2011 - Going Places?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 11
Flight Training - March 2011 - This Weekend
Flight Training - March 2011 - Tech Tip
Flight Training - March 2011 - Success Story
Flight Training - March 2011 - Air Safety Institute
Flight Training - March 2011 - Since You Asked
Flight Training - March 2011 - 17
Flight Training - March 2011 - Final Exam
Flight Training - March 2011 - Legal Q & A
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - March 2011 - 21
Flight Training - March 2011 - Insights
Flight Training - March 2011 - Checkride
Flight Training - March 2011 - The Flight Training Experience: Making It Work
Flight Training - March 2011 - 25
Flight Training - March 2011 - 26
Flight Training - March 2011 - 27
Flight Training - March 2011 - 28
Flight Training - March 2011 - 29
Flight Training - March 2011 - Where Do You Stand?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 31
Flight Training - March 2011 - Is This Flightopia?
Flight Training - March 2011 - 33
Flight Training - March 2011 - 34
Flight Training - March 2011 - 35
Flight Training - March 2011 - The 12-Step Lesson Plan
Flight Training - March 2011 - 37
Flight Training - March 2011 - 38
Flight Training - March 2011 - 39
Flight Training - March 2011 - Weather
Flight Training - March 2011 - 41
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - March 2011 - Who Will Fly?
Flight Training - March 2011 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - March 2011 - 45
Flight Training - March 2011 - Career Pilot News
Flight Training - March 2011 - Can a CFI Use Pizza in the Cockpit?
Flight Training - March 2011 - Flight Instructor Burnout
Flight Training - March 2011 - By the Numbers
Flight Training - March 2011 - 50
Flight Training - March 2011 - Advertiser Index
Flight Training - March 2011 - 52
Flight Training - March 2011 - 53
Flight Training - March 2011 - 54
Flight Training - March 2011 - 55
Flight Training - March 2011 - 56
Flight Training - March 2011 - 57
Flight Training - March 2011 - 58
Flight Training - March 2011 - 59
Flight Training - March 2011 - 60
Flight Training - March 2011 - 61
Flight Training - March 2011 - 62
Flight Training - March 2011 - 63
Flight Training - March 2011 - Debrief
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover3
Flight Training - March 2011 - Cover4