May 1, 2019 – Aborted Travel

Oh man – I’m slightly bummed!: I am flying a one day Westwind jet trip Thursday and it was my first opportunity to fly myself up there and back in 3DF. Easy trip and a potential perfect day. The definition of the perfect day is riding to the airport on my Harley; jumping in my beautiful twin and flying up to the jet to go play.

N833DF is in fine shape, even though the autopilot is still in AutoPilot Central’s purgatory. I really am expecting to hear something any minute now on that one. It’s been a month now guys – get off your butts! The airplane is ready is all other respects, so I planned to fly up at 9000′ and leave it in the hangar there.

Note that the folks that hired me for the trip are really being nice to me. 3DF will stay in the hangar while I’m there and they’ll cover the cost while I’m traveling.  Nice!

Weather Planning for a the operational altitudes of a light twin is not something I’ve done for over two years! The tools continuously improve, and I started out getting a handle on thunderstorm potential. My schedule was opened up so that I could leave anytime during the day today, and be sure not to get stopped by expected storms. It’s only a two hour flight, so I felt good with it. Ceilings would be as low as 1500′, but my personal minimums are 1000′ until I get more time in my airplane IMC. So the weather looked fine.
You can see that there is rain and lots of moisture enroute, but at first glance this looks like an easy ride.

Then I thought I’d better check the icing levels. I found the forecast at right. I had forgotten what the symbols meant, so I then had to go and get the Aviation Weather Handbook.

The dark blue boundary (circle, line dashed) indicates icing conditions. The altitude range is included in a blue details box. The top number gives the height of the top icing layer; and the bottom left number gives the height of the lowest icing layer. If a bottom right number is listed, it means the bottom of the icing layer varies between these altitudes over the specific area. Altitudes are labeled in hundreds of feet. You can see that the box covering Vermont goes down to 1000′.

I had assumed that since we were having more nice days that ICE wouldn’t be a factor. Surprise! Looks like icing for this trip between Delaware and Vermont will in fact be a big factor – No Go Item.  I’m seeing overcast ceilings from 1500′ to 6100′ with rain in the area and a freezing level down to the surface. Icing, where it occurs, is expected to be moderate. I’m rusty with these forecasts, but re-learning it quickly. After checking it four different times, I let the client know I’d need an airline ticket after all. Bummer!

Lancaster Avionics is doing the autopilot maintenance and I was talking with them this week. While the autopilot is being worked on, I decided to add a FlightStream 210 to my airplane. I explained that I need to do this in one day – the logistics of my going back and forth is just too painful. Hopefully, by next week I’ll have an autopilot and the new ability to upload and download flight plans from my ipad. Come on guys – let’s get this done!

Fly Safe!

Frank