Thursday, 7 November 2013

Feeling the numbers

Now that I’ve made decisions about what I definitely won’t fly in, I’ve got to start figuring out what I will head out in.

Highlights from today’s conversation the Flight Services included “winds predicted to be 270@15G20” and “ceilings at 3500ft with light (VFR) showers – rain”
That is a sucky forecast because of its middle-of-the-road-ness. It is doable. It might not be fun-sightseeing-take-your-friends-on-a-pleasure-flight kind of conditions but it’s not inherently dangerous or anything. The ceilings are high enough that you can do the airwork stuff; the winds are on the high side of desirable but almost straight down the runway.

It all comes down to not having a handle on what the numbers on a bit of paper actually feel like. Of course I will never get that feel if I don’t fly in those conditions.  Quite frankly if it were left up to me I would only fly with 10000ft ceilings and zero wind  and no significant weather predicted for the entire day (of course zero wind actually has some issues, especially when landing). I believe these conditions exist approximately once every millennium or so.
I’m over cautious, I know this. I think eventually it will turn out to be a good thing but at the moment its hampering me a little bit, making me agonise over what should be flyable conditions, if a touch on the challenging side.

Anyways, probably against my better judgement, Bob and everyone else ganged up against me and persuaded me to give it a go. Bob employing his usual tactic of “we’ll just do some circuits and see how you go” and J from dispatch trying the more subtle subliminal method of hiding behind the computer monitor and popping up at random to say “gooooo flyyyyying”
I am actually really glad that I did. I have more numbers to add to my list of “I’ve flown solo in that and I did Ok” repertoire.

So far it includes

·         A 12 knot cross wind

·         Ceilings below 3000ft

·         Rain showers

·         15G20 20 degrees off the runway

·         Rapidly dropping cloud base (enough so that I turned back)

I can understand that the more I can add to that list the better, but it’s a fine line between “pushing the envelope” as Bob calls it and doing something stupid.
Numbers are no good on their own. You need to feel them.

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