AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 18

WAYPOINTS

Check notams

BY THOMAS B. HAINES
Editor in Chief

Save yourself some grief

In more than 40
years of flying,
TOM HAINES has
learned more from
other pilots than
he's ever learned
from books. Share
your experiences to
help others.

A BIG BLOB OF RED on the Nexrad display appeared just
beyond where our magenta line ended at Johnstown,
Pennsylvania. Good choice to stop here for fuel, I congratulated myself. The long leg is behind us. Fuel here
is more than a buck a gallon cheaper than at home. And,
hopefully, that big storm will be out of the way by the
time we fuel up and take off in that direction for home,
just another 85 miles ahead. Yep, I was feeling pretty
good. We had left Rice Lake, Wisconsin, four hours earlier. Over those 655 nautical miles, we had traversed
a good chunk of the country with a slight tailwind at
9,000 feet. But as we crossed Lake Erie near Cleveland
on our southeasterly course, the wind shifted slightly
to a headwind, and clouds piled up along the lakeshore.
Nexrad showed scattered showers and thunderstorms ahead with tops well above us. I've always said
Johnstown is the breeding ground for eastern thunderstorms, and this August afternoon was proving me right.
We had spent a long weekend at a private grass
strip in rural Wisconsin hanging out with a few other
pilots and doing some air-to-air and ground video and
photography of their remarkable airplanes. Aside from
a few hours of rain overnight Friday and into Saturday
morning, the weather had been great. We accomplished a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the company
and camaraderie we had been missing since COVID19 came crashing into our lives.
The forecast for our Sunday return had been for
mostly clear skies and a strong tailwind. Unfortunately,
forecasts are just that. We woke up Sunday to dense fog
and the promise of storms along the second half of our
route-and not much of a tailwind.
I had scoped out fuel prices along the route and
planned Johnstown as a fuel stop. Fuel there was about
the cheapest of anywhere in the region and it was right
along the route. That way I would arrive back at the home
drome of Frederick, Maryland, with as much fuel as
possible. Fuel at home is among the highest in the region.
As the storms piled up just southeast of Johnstown,
I was beginning to get concerned about our ability to get home after refueling, but we trundled on
through northeastern Ohio and into southwestern
Pennsylvania, all the while evaluating various other
options. As we dodged some cloud tops and picked
our way around the scattered storms, it looked like our
Plan A was going to work. However, fuel was beginning
to be a concern. If Johnstown got socked in, we would

18 | AOPA PILOT December 2020

need to turn around and head back to the northwest to
a couple of airports I had already identified.
Soon, though, we came around the corner of a
large cloud and there was Johnstown's 7,000-foot-long
runway. We landed and pulled up to the FBO. As we
opened the Bonanza's door, a lineman asked, "What
can I do for you?"
"Top if it off, please. We'll be heading right back
out again," I said.
"Oh, sorry. We don't have any avgas. It's in the
notam."
What! How did I miss the notam? He must be wrong.
I pulled out Foreflight and poked the Notam tab. Sure
enough, it was there-right at the top. No avgas available. How could I have missed that? I had looked at the
route a week or more earlier-focused on gas prices-
and was expecting to finish the detailed planning later.
Well, later came and apparently, I missed that step.
So, there we were, low on fuel and with scattered
storms all around. We went inside the spiffy new FBO
and studied the radar map for a while and scoured the
region for airports away from the weather. It appeared
that Cumberland, Maryland, was the best choice, 42
nm south with a path relatively clear of the slow-moving storms. A call to the FBO confirmed they were open
and had avgas.
With an IFR flight plan filed for the short trip, we
climbed away from Johnstown as I carefully watched
the fuel gauges. I had installed CiES digital fuel senders and new electronic fuel gauges a couple of years
ago, so I knew exactly how much I had-but those
yellow bars made me nervous.
Minutes later we descended into Cumberland. As
we shut down, I checked the fuel quantity-13.1 gallons
remaining. About an hour at lean-of-peak cruise.
We topped off and filed another IFR flight plan for
the 65-nm trip home, flying in the clear past some amazing rain shafts. Forty minutes after we landed, those
same storms ripped through Frederick, causing flooding and wind damage on the south side of the city.
You've heard me preach, "Check notams before
every flight." I didn't, and it caused me more angst than
I care to admit. Don't be like me-I'm trying not to be
like me. Check notams. Save yourself the grief. AOPA
EMAIL thomas.haines@aopa.org

@tomhaines29



AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 10
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 12
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 22
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 24
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 26
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 28
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 30
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 32
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 34
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 38
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 40
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 42
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 50
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 60
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 63
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 67
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 72
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 74
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 76
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 79
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 81
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - 112
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - December 2020 - Cover4
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