The Harley shop didn’t open until 10am, so I filed for an 11am departure thinking we might not get off until noon. I took a look at the developing weather and decided that a straight shot would be better than including a stop over.

Non-Stop AirDorrin Service From Sunny Tampa
Non-Stop over low weather

My reasoning is as follows:

  • Late start and a layover gets me home in the dark.  Darker is colder and colder is icier.
  • Cold front is moving south into the Carolinas.
  • IFR and Low IFR from Georgia up into Virginia.
  • Thunderstorms were possible in the panhandle to the coast. I didn’t expect it though.
  • Weather in the subsequent days will not be VFR and will ramp up the risks somewhat.

What we experienced on the way home:

  • Temps on the ground at Florida were 23 C / falling to 15 C at 8000′
  • VFR up to the Florida/Georgia border
  • Moving out over the ocean we stayed above a smooth stratus layer. The clouds looked like endless snow banks.
  • Back over land, the tops rose to met us and brought on the bumps. I considered briefly a descent to get under the layer for a smoother ride, but waited it out. It paid off as we slid out the other side and were above the layer again.
  • Now we were over the low IFR zone. I’d performed a low approach into Kingstons, NC only a few weeks before, so I didn’t see any issues getting in here if needed.
  • Approaching Norfolk, the layer came up and over us again.
  • I put Ted in charge of  watching the windshield and wings for ice. That is what I have been expecting based on the forecast and how far north we’ve traveled.
  • I was on the gauges and noticed ice on the windscreen; looked at the wings and saw it there too; then me and Ted did icing 101.
  • Contacted ATC for a descent due to ice and it was granted right away. They asked me to let them know when the icing stopped; and that was 8000′ and now in solid IMC.
  • Heading further north the temperature kept dropping. Down to 7C at this point and passing Melfa, Va.
  • The XM Weather told me that Melfa and Wallops Island were at 3800 ovc and we slid out of the layer as the tops sloped down to 7000′ over Salisbury.
  • Patuxent gave us a descent to 3000′ south of Salisbury. We descended into the deck and Ted called out ICE – we are learning now.
  • I confirm more ice than the first time – but honestly not much at all. I already know I’ll be clear out the bottom, and pushed the nose over to 1000fpm as the ice continued to slowly accumulate. Temps dropped now to -1C and the ice more persistent.
  • We pop into the clear underneath, and not long later slid out into VFR conditions and on into Georgetown.

I left the airplane in Georgetown to have the new AI swapped out for a replacement unit that actually worked with the autopilot.  I did benefit from 1.5 hours of hand flown IMC though, it was a good thing.

Ted and I drove my truck home, and all of the planning paid off handsomely.

By fdorrin

Fully retired now, unless something interesting comes along. I’ve enjoyed a lucrative career as an Electrical Engineer, Certified Software Solutions Developer, and Project Manager. An excellent and fun career that I’m very proud of. I began flying commercially in Dash-8 aircraft for Piedmont Airlines, and moved on to instruct in the Gulfstream 280; WestWind; and Astra jet aircraft. I’ve also been blessed with a type rating in the B-25 bomber in a fortunate turn of events. My wife, Beverly, and I currently own and operate a beautifully restored PA30 Twin Comanche, which we use to explore the CONUS.