Sunday, 1 December 2013

Good question

Friday saw me with the evening to myself. I popped down to the flight school to sit the “pre solo cross country” quiz and trundled my way back home through the biting cold. I got home to the obligatory Friday night text from Bob; “what’s your take on the weather for tomorrow?” he asked.

I admitted that I was just home and a cup of tea and thawing out were the first things on my agenda and then I’d take a look. I pulled up the relevant TAFs and tried to make sense of the numbers, figuring out which airport had published what info and at what time. I took a quick glance and then decided that there was someone who could do a better job of this weather interpretation lark than me. Sat wrapped in my blanket on the couch I called flight services.

I got through to a nice and chatty guy, who talked me through the predicted weather. Basically OK at city with gusty-ish winds but he was concerned about a warm front moving down to Muskoka. Reckoned it was hard to judge the speed of it. If it slowed I’d be fine but otherwise I was cutting it a little fine, possibly being caught in 1-4 miles visibility and light snow. His recommendation was to call up again in the morning and see how it was progressing.

I thanked him for his time and dutifully reported back to Bob. I was happy to make the call in the morning.

Bob enquired as to whether there might be a “plan B”. I informed him that I was eager to fly and would be happy with a local east flight with some more diversion practice and instrument work (anything to avoid that bloody simulator!).

I was up early the next morning, knowing that I’d need plenty of time to get the rest of my flight planning done if I was going to head out on the “big one”. I called flight services at around 6:50am local time (11:50 UTC).

“Good morning,” I chirped, “I’d like a weather briefing for a flight from City to Muskoka and Peterborough departing today at 16:00 Zulu”

“Why are you up so early?” he laughingly asked. Half joking but maybe it had been a long night!
I laughed as well and said “student pilot, flight planning takes me a while!”

I didn’t add the fact that a lot of that time is spent recovering my E6b from wherever I’ve thrown it in disgust. Anyways the ceilings were looking marginal and we both agreed that although it may have been doable the low ceilings would have meant that I’d end up in the mechanical turbulence thrown up by the gusty winds. It was by no means an ideal day for a cross country flight, especially a first one.

I texted Bob to inform him I was calling a no-go.

Another cancelled cross country….. but never mind, Bob had a plan.

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