Flight Training - February 2014 - 26

FLYING CARPET

By Greg Brown

PLUS View the slideshow of the
author's visit to San Antonio.
"EASY IFR" over West Texas (left). Wall mural at
San Antonio's Mi Tierra restaurant (below).

EASY IFR

FLYING LOW CEILINGS AND RAIN

W

e awoke in San Antonio, Texas, to low ceilings and steady
rain. At bedtime last night, a massive stalled cold front
curved eastward from El Paso in a great northerly arc to
Canada. Today's forecast called for inches of regional rain,
thunderstorms, and flooding.
Following a week touring Texas, Jean
and I were eager to return home to Arizona; instead, it appeared we'd be stuck
here for days. Futilely, we'd hoped the
front would accelerate past during the
night, leaving clear skies and tailwinds
behind it. Now, resisting the urge to
roll over and sleep, I fumbled through a
weather briefing. Considering the gloom
outside, the news was surprisingly good.
Yes, the front remained stationary as
forecast, but thunderstorms no longer
threatened. And while a few stations along
our route reported ceilings below 500
feet, most were "easy IFR" at 800 to 1,500
feet. Finally, the freezing level was high
enough to relegate any icing threat above
our planned altitudes. While it meant battling 500 miles of clouds and rain, it was
entirely feasible to fly to El Paso on instruments. Beyond there, New Mexico was
forecast to clear by afternoon. If so, we'd
proceed visually through the mountains

26 /

FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

to Flagstaff. If not, a long westerly detour
would circumvent them IFR. Either way,
we had an instrument ticket home!
Where I live in sunny Arizona, pilots
spend far more time practicing instruments than cloud flying, all to prepare
for occasions like this. Instrument sorties
earlier this trip had confirmed my skills
and equipment were up to snuff. Providing
the weather remained near forecast, we
should make El Paso without difficulty.
In cold rain at San Antonio's Stinson
Municipal Airport, we fueled the Flying Carpet, stowed our drenched cockpit
cover, and loaded our soaked bags. My one
concern about facing hours of rain was
that the Flying Carpet had once sustained
window leaks. The windshield had long
ago been replaced and the rear window
resealed, but following years in bonedry Arizona, new leaks seemed entirely
possible in a continuous downpour. Any
thought of water dripping on radios while

in the clouds was unsettling, at best. Cowering under a dripping wing, I phoned for
one last weather update.
"The heavier precip ends just west of
San Antonio," said the briefer to my relief.
Even so, Jean and I cached rags within
reach, draped a blanket and plastic under
the rear window, and pledged to land at
any sign of leaks. Then we launched into
clouds and headwinds for El Paso. Sure
enough, within minutes after takeoff we
exited the rain, and soon found ourselves
skimming cloud tops in and out of sunshine at 6,000 feet. Flying instruments
rarely requires endless hours in solid
clouds; more often you transit to warm sun
on top, coast between layers, or glimpse
the ground through stunning cloudscapes.
When rain rematerialized on our datalink weather display, I compared notes
with Flight Watch radar and, collaborating
with air traffic control, detoured south
toward Del Rio to avoid it. That put us
back "in the soup" for a while, but with a
smooth and uneventful ride.
"What's that whining noise?" asked
Jean. I laughed. There's nothing like
the whistle of wet Cessna wing struts to
renew your relationship with clouds. No
longer threatened by weather or leaks, I
found myself tremendously enjoying this
extended instrument journey-I rarely


http://FLIGHTTRAINING.AOPA.ORG

Flight Training - February 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - February 2014

Flight Training - February 2014
Contents
Member Benefits
Right Seat
Letters
Fun on the Water
Success Story News
How It Works
After the Checkride
News Abeam the Numbers
Training Products
News Final Exam
Asi News
News
Flight Lesson
Accident Report
Around the Patch
Flying Carpet
Flight Training Excellence Awards
Awards Recipients
All for You
Dream Maker
Weather
Career Pilot
Instructor Report
CFI to CFI
Career Advisor
Accident Report
Advertiser Index
Debrief
Flight Training - February 2014 - Flight Training - February 2014
Flight Training - February 2014 - Cover2
Flight Training - February 2014 - Contents
Flight Training - February 2014 - 2
Flight Training - February 2014 - 3
Flight Training - February 2014 - Member Benefits
Flight Training - February 2014 - 5
Flight Training - February 2014 - Right Seat
Flight Training - February 2014 - 7
Flight Training - February 2014 - Letters
Flight Training - February 2014 - 9
Flight Training - February 2014 - Fun on the Water
Flight Training - February 2014 - 11
Flight Training - February 2014 - Success Story News
Flight Training - February 2014 - How It Works
Flight Training - February 2014 - After the Checkride
Flight Training - February 2014 - News Abeam the Numbers
Flight Training - February 2014 - Training Products
Flight Training - February 2014 - News Final Exam
Flight Training - February 2014 - Asi News
Flight Training - February 2014 - 19
Flight Training - February 2014 - News
Flight Training - February 2014 - 21
Flight Training - February 2014 - Flight Lesson
Flight Training - February 2014 - Accident Report
Flight Training - February 2014 - Around the Patch
Flight Training - February 2014 - 25
Flight Training - February 2014 - Flying Carpet
Flight Training - February 2014 - 27
Flight Training - February 2014 - 28
Flight Training - February 2014 - Flight Training Excellence Awards
Flight Training - February 2014 - 30
Flight Training - February 2014 - 31
Flight Training - February 2014 - Awards Recipients
Flight Training - February 2014 - 33
Flight Training - February 2014 - All for You
Flight Training - February 2014 - 35
Flight Training - February 2014 - 36
Flight Training - February 2014 - 37
Flight Training - February 2014 - 38
Flight Training - February 2014 - 39
Flight Training - February 2014 - Dream Maker
Flight Training - February 2014 - 41
Flight Training - February 2014 - 42
Flight Training - February 2014 - 43
Flight Training - February 2014 - Weather
Flight Training - February 2014 - 45
Flight Training - February 2014 - 46
Flight Training - February 2014 - Career Pilot
Flight Training - February 2014 - 48
Flight Training - February 2014 - Instructor Report
Flight Training - February 2014 - CFI to CFI
Flight Training - February 2014 - Career Advisor
Flight Training - February 2014 - Accident Report
Flight Training - February 2014 - 53
Flight Training - February 2014 - 54
Flight Training - February 2014 - 55
Flight Training - February 2014 - Debrief
Flight Training - February 2014 - Cover3
Flight Training - February 2014 - Cover4
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