Sunday, February 6, 2011

Angel Flight in IMC

This was a busy flying week indeed... After coming back from Miami, I managed to squeeze in an Angel Flight.  I was a little nervous about this one because it was my first Angel Flight in IMC.  The ceilings in Tampa were ~ 1000 FT and recent PIREPS showed even lower in the area.  In addition to the cloud cover in Tampa, the radar showed an ugly line of RED/YELLOW/GREEN about halfway along our route.  The only good news on the weather was that the PIREPS near Cross City reported smooth air near the altitude I was planning.

The patient (Chris) was a cancer patient, who lives in Panama City, FL and is participating in a clinical trial at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.  She was so grateful for the 1.5 hour flight home, which meant she could avoid the grueling 8 hour drive.  I warned her that due to the weather, it may get a bit bumpy and we will likely be in the clouds the majority of the time.  She was not concerned.  She had been on many small planes before and knew generally what to expect.
So we picked up our IFR clearance on the ground and took off into "the soup".  Shortly after takeoff, we "found just the right altitude" thanks to a cooperative ATC controller.  We were able to enjoy a smooth ride between layers of clouds.

As we passed Cross City, I noticed that the line of storms I was worried about had moved East faster than expected!  That meant we were able to easily dodge the rest of the clouds with just a couple of minor deviations:

Luckily, the radar picture looked far less scary in the plane than on the ground.  Best of all, after another 15 minutes all the weather was behind us.  Then it was just sightseeing and photos:

As we approached Panama City, the weather was no factor.  But I wanted to practice some more video editing.  So I setup the camera and shot the GPS 34 approach onto their enormous 10000 FT runway.  Just for kicks, I even did a "short field" landing on the first 2000 FT.  You can see the approach and landing on my Youtube channel below:

After we landed, the folks at the SheltAir FBO took very good care of us. While this "new" Panama City airport still feels like it is under construction, they are definitely OPEN for business!

Cheers,

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