March 17th, 2013 – 33N to KHWY to KSBY to KGED

Working out and feeling good. Spent yesterday working with Scot on my simulator room downstairs. Framing is almost done, so I went for insulation and drywall supplies. Moved 20 sheets from Lowes to my house to see if I could do it, and I can. Only 60 more sheets to go, and I’ll do that a bit at a time.

Today I flew the airplane down to Georgetown, Delaware for its periodic maintenance. The ADs and oil are due; flap springs; one oil temp sensor; and its time to rebuild the left fuel servo.

Leaving Delaware airpark, I was watching the rain and some ice moving into the Warrenton area. I entered IMC and started watching for ice the entire time. Temperature at 6000′ was above freezing by a degree or two for awhile, but I expected issues closing in on Warrenton.

Ran into mild turbulence while still on the peninsula, and a significant amount of traffic heading into Baltimore’s BWI airport. I was vectored probably 4 times in a zig-zag pattern. I picked the wrong day to stop using the autopilot.¬†While it is good to hand-fly now and again, and this is the first challenging weather I’ve had in awhile.

On my final vector inbound to KHWY – Warrenton on the GPS33 approach, I made the decision not to land. Weather was closing in and if I were to be delayed on the ground, I may not get out without ICE. Changed plans and requested a low approach with a published missed. Alerted the controller I’d be looking for IFR to Salisbury.

Cleared for a low approach with the published missed, where I was told to expect my clearance on the go. Best chance for ice, in my estimation, was when I climbed back to 3000′ in the hold, which was as far north and west as I’d go today. Right next to the cold air and XM ice indications.

I had an escape plan and was vigilant for ice. I knew I could request 5000 to 7000 and be in a clear layer, or get under 2500 and also be clear, so I held those options in reserve. I could also put my tail between my legs and run like the mighty platypus right on home.

The low approach was like the last one at Warrenton – a lone piper cub going the opposite direction with no radio. No harm – no foul. Brought the gear up and made it a high speed pass to clear the area and started my climb.

Before reaching the hold – I was vectored away from the area. I am certain that the controllers knew where the bad areas were. Their vectors and altitudes were consistently where I wanted to be when it really mattered. I was turned eastbound with myriad vectors in this sensitive airspace, and was finally headed direct Salisbury.

Approaching the peninsula I was in light turbulence in clouds with an outside temp around 1 degree or so. Received vectors for the ILS 32 at Salisbury, where I had requested multiple approaches.

Onto the peninsula now, where it had been warmer and forecast to be even more so as the day progressed, I looked up and saw ice on the windscreen. Not much, just a few specs. Wings were clear. Abeam Colbe now, there was another airplane on the same approach at 2000′. I started to pick up additional ice on the windscreen and noted rime ice on the inboard wings. It was not ambiguous, by any means.

Now I started checking all of the wing surfaces I could see. Excellent idea having the rear curtains removed. I could clearly see both sides of the horizontal stabilator leading edges. They were significantly covered with ice, in a forward Vee formation.

Seeing that, I informed the controller I needed to get lower now, and turned onto the localizer due to ice accumulation. I also informed him I had abandoned my plan to execute multiple approaches (even though I really wanted some actual practice). This was dangerous ice for an airplane not so equipped.

I was cleared down to 2000′ right away, and immediately turned onto the localizer. I jumped on that with too much vigor – and over-banked twice in the turn. Both times I was on it quickly, but did wonder how that would have gone had I lost an engine at that moment. I concluded I could have continued unabated – though my laundry would have represented a challenge, possibly. Mental reality check came up good.

Now I’m on the localizer in IMC and starting down the glideslope. About 1500′ or so I notice the runway coming into view, and start re-assessing my plan after this approach. At this time I tried to get my phone turned on to take pictures of the ice – still covering all the surfaces and most concerning me – the tail leading edges. Abandoned that idea out of common sense, but would like to have had those pictures. Just fly the plane – jackass.

Now down to 800′, the ice is still not coming off. The airplane is flying well, but I’m not taking an already ice laden airplane back up into the same airspace. Land or stay in the clear.

I opted to cancel IFR and fly to and maintain 1500′ agl up to Georgetown, where I’d leave the airplane. Approaching Georgetown, the ice was diminished, but didn’t disappear until I landed. LED Lenses remained covered with ice at the hangar.

I was surprised how quickly the ice accumulated. Then again – I’ve been through worse. Lesson re-learned is that you simply cannot hesitate one minute before taking action when you encounter ice. My planning and decision making were good. I’ll think about this some more, and add further evaluations, I suppose.

Regards – fly safe. Spring is almost here, and we’ll be wrestling with thunderstorms again.