Friday, 2 August 2013

I don’t know why I bother sometimes.

The weather has been fairly fickle recently, going from bright scorching sun to pouring rain in the blink of an eye.  I had a lesson booked for an evening flight. Taking advantage of the fact that Bob was already down there for an instructor’s meeting.  The weather had been variable during the day. Some sun, some rain, so I was keeping a careful eye on the forecasts.

The general outlook seemed ok, light rain showers but good visibility and acceptable cloud base. Bob and I had already discussed our plans to go and do some slow flight and stalls in preparation for me doing them on my own, next time I was solo (eek!)
While I was waiting I took extra time to look at the METAR and TAF for not only city but other local airports to get the general weather trend for the area. I was happy and confident that I’d utilised all information available to me and had a good picture of what was going on. It seemed that yep there was light rain, but the cloud base seemed to be lifting and the visibility was staying static. A steady line of precipitation was being fed from the west but again it didn’t seem to be getting any worse.

Bob agreed with my assessment and we both decided that it would be a great learning opportunity for me to experience these conditions. Just in case I ever got caught in rain when coming back from a flight, to prove that you can still fly in it and be confident in how to handle it. I was 100% behind this. The idea of experiencing less than optimal conditions with an instructor in the seat next to me seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. I was raring to go.
The first hiccup came during start up. JPM has always been a little light on the brakes and the wet surface didn’t help, she almost got away from me when I started her up. Oops! I taxied us out and immediately became aware of the issues involved in lowered visibility. The taxi lines hide. I went a little slower than usual to make sure I didn’t do anything stupid. Bob tried to trick me with the old “turn on the wipers” line.

It didn’t work!

I got us to the little corner of 08, (yay, got her tucked in nicely, maybe finally banishing those 08 demons) and got about half way through my run up checks. I was just explaining to Bob that the 200 rpm drop on the left mag was acceptable, I’d been talking to the owner about it a couple of weeks ago, when I heard a radio call, with my call sign attached to it.
Huh? If you are trying to tell me to get out the way of that Dash 8, I’m not done and I could fit a tank through that gap thank you very much anyways.

Turns out it was ATC politely enquiring if we were familiar with the latest weather and giving us a brief update on the incoming rain. Basically a “are you sure you wanna go up there in this?”
Hmm, if ATC consider this a bad idea, who am I to argue? We did a couple of circuits just for the heck of it and then called it a day.

A good flight for many reasons but it did kind of leave me wondering why I bother checking the weather in all that excruciating detail, when every single source was calling for light rain showers and I ended up in a deluge?


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