Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dreary Flight Home

After perfect weather on the way up the east coast, I had the entirely opposite experience on the way home from NYC.  My typical online weather briefing on Flightaware and Aviation Weather showed solid IMC along the entire route and there was icing forecast above 13k FT.  In addition, I called Flight Service to get the PIREPs.  Unfortunately, there were multiple reports of icing @13k FT, 17k FT, and FL230.  Between the Pireps and the TBM icing accident in NJ this week, I was a bit concerned.  But I decided it would be safe if I stayed below the freezing level.  So I filed @ 10k FT and verified that the TKS fluid was full.  
When I was ready for departure @ Morristown, the airport had a 400 FT overcast layer and light rain!  Needless to say, it was not very pleasant pre-flight.  
When I took off, I followed the Morristown 6 departure procedure, and was in the clouds within minutes.  During the entire flight, there was only one brief time that I was not "in the soup".  As luck would have it, these few minutes between cloud layers had a neat surprise in store for me.

I was level @ 5000 FT when New York Departure called out a traffic alert to me as follows:

"Cirrus 6TJ, traffic @ your 8 o'clock is a United 737 climbing out of four thousand for one-seven thousand ; caution wake turbulence"

Yikes! For the first time ever I got to see an airliner "up close and personal" from above!!

Obviously, that didn't last long.  He passed me like I was standing still.  But I did get a gr8  view of his climbout!

A few minutes later I was back in the clouds (level @10k FT) and didn't see the ground again until I was near my destination.  

After more than an hour bumping along in light to moderate turbulence, I started checking out my intended destination,  which was Duplin County, NC, and realized it was not looking good.  The map, which you can see below, looked OK, but the ATIS was below minimums and I knew I needed a plan B...

So I called Washington Center and requested an  IFR divert to Kinston, which had slightly better weather.  The FBO @ Kinston is nowhere near as hospitable as Duplin County.  However, the ATIS showed 800 Ft ceilings, which was a comfortable 300+ FT above minimums.  With only light rain and 300 FT above mins, this was easily within my comfort zone.  You can see the landing below:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Skydiver Sighting

This week I had a rather routine flight up the East Coast.  I needed to be in New York and with near perfect weather, it was a gr8 excuse to practice some "NY big city" flying.  The first leg was the totally uneventful.  From a pilot's perspective, "uneventful" is usually good.  But this flight was"excessively peaceful"!

The routing was direct @17k FT.  The skies were clear and I didn't even see a single cloud!  In addition, there was very little traffic in the air, which meant even the usual  ATC chatter was mostly silence. In fact, the biggest excitement during the whole flight was changing radio stations! 

I stopped @ Triangle North, which is a cool, little  airport just outside of Raleigh.  What makes it cool you ask? 

That would be the skydivers that were landing between the windsock and the runway I was landing on!

As soon as I was clear of the active runway, I stopped on a taxiway just in time to catch one of them landing in this video clip:

Seeing these skydivers in action, as well as the King Air "bus" that took them up, brought back some very fond college memories for me when I did a bunch of jumps in NJ & PA.  

Hmmm... Wonder if my Contour camera would survive a jump? Wait! Scratch that!!   What am I thinking ... Still way more adventures on my bucket list from the cockpit!!!
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