Flight Training - May 2021 - 6

ALWAYS LEARNING BY KOLLIN STAGNITO

Vice President of Publications/Editor
KOLLIN STAGNITO recently got a lot

of practice with the Tiger on
snow- and ice-covered runways.
kollin.stagnito@aopa.org

GET-HOME-ITIS

I was on a tight schedule. Ideally, AOPA will display its sweepstakes Grumman Tiger (see " Year of the Tiger, " p. 21) with new
avionics at the Sun 'n Fun Aerospace Expo in Lakeland, Florida.
I'd waited three months to fly the airplane from Minute Man Air Field (6B6) in
Stow, Massachusetts, to Aurora Municipal Airport (ARR) in Aurora, Illinois, to have
its avionics gutted and replaced. The Tiger was donated in November; its annual
inspection not finished until January; and winter storms repeatedly blocked my route
of flight in early February. The avionics shop requested the airplane arrive by February 8 to install the upgrades and fly to Sun 'n Fun by April 13. The clock was ticking.
On February 10, already behind schedule, I finally began my journey west-toward
another approaching winter storm. Although the Tiger had no installed ADS-B In or
SiriusXM Aviation weather, my iPad and iPhone both powered an electronic flight
bag (EFB) sporting FIS-B weather (see " ADS-B and FIS-B, " aopa.org/ft/fis-b). It's
important to know the radar images received through FIS-B are not real-time. The
delay of 15 minutes or more from the time the radar images are captured to when
they appear on your device means you should use the info strategically (to see the big
picture), rather than tactically (trying to fly between areas of heavy precipitation).
My flight was truncated by the approaching snow, so I overnighted in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. After the snow stopped the next morning, the weather was clear all
the way to Aurora. I anticipated an easy afternoon arrival-a few hours before another
round of light snow was forecast to move into the Chicago area from the north.
As I entered Illinois, snow began to fall over Chicago, as expected. Thankfully, my
destination was well southwest of the city, and still clear. Just 50 miles from Aurora,
6  FLIGHT TRAINING MAY 2021

however, I spotted precipitation not
appearing on the radar-a wall of snow
falling from the clouds all the way to the
ground with zero visibility through it.
The radar indicated I could easily
outflank the isolated snow by flying
southwest, circling north, and then
approaching Aurora from the west.
Big picture assessed, strategy set, and
alternate landing spot Greater Kankakee
Airport (IKK) in the clear to the south,
I went for the end run. But despite the
clear path visible on the radar, no end to
the solid line of snow appeared in real
life. I decided to land at Kankakee to
come up with a better plan.
I was achingly close to my destination,
and aware I was susceptible to the powerful effects of get-home-itis. Getting stuck
in Kankakee overnight could delay the
project far longer than just one more day-
the temperature was going to drop below
10 degrees Fahrenheit for the next several
days and the airport had no engine preheaters, or hangars, available to keep the
airplane warm. It would be extremely difficult to start the airplane until the frigid
temps subsided. I called AOPA's weather
expert Tom Horne to ask about the disconnect between the radar images and reality.
" Sometimes radar struggles to depict snow
accurately, " was his observation.
I decided to make one more attempt to
circumnavigate the snow before the sun set,
promising myself I would not get lured into
visibility less than 5 miles to avoid accidentally flying into a snow squall. There are
too many stories about inadvertent VFR
flight into instrument conditions, and they
rarely end well. I flew the route the radar
showed would provide a clear path to my
destination, but the wall of snow remained.
Frustrated and annoyed, I admitted defeat
and returned to Kankakee to expose the
Tiger to its inevitable deep freeze.
The next morning dawned clear and
crisp. The FBO surprised me by finding a
heated hangar to help thaw the Tiger. Its
engine started right up, and the short flight
was a cinch. Through the fresh perspective
of a new day, I could see arriving at Aurora
the previous evening was a want, not a
need. And, instead of being upset we were
behind schedule, the owner of the avionics
shop said he was happy I did not push my
luck the previous day in tricky conditions.
He correctly stated my safety was more
important than any time pressures we
might impose upon ourselves. FT


http://www.aopa.org/ft/fis-b

Flight Training - May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Flight Training - May 2021

Contents
Flight Training - May 2021 - Intro
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover1
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover2
Flight Training - May 2021 - Contents
Flight Training - May 2021 - 2
Flight Training - May 2021 - 3
Flight Training - May 2021 - 4
Flight Training - May 2021 - 5
Flight Training - May 2021 - 6
Flight Training - May 2021 - 7
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Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover3
Flight Training - May 2021 - Cover4
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