Thursday, 14 May 2015


In the space of two weeks the weather at the airport has gone from “It’s just above freezing, I still need my gloves to do my walkround” to “Argh, it’s pushing 30 degrees I hope I can get the finicky fuel injected engine started

Today’s flying plans have been scaled back, big time. The original plan was to book a block of 4 hours and go somewhere for lunch. I fly one leg, RTH the other.

That plan was nipped in the bud by the two hour booking limitation at weekends. SAR is still poorly, so the flight school is a plane down. Hence the restrictions on long bookings at popular times. While this is annoying, it’s also understandable.

So I downgrade to a local sightseeing jaunt, maybe play with my new Foreflight stuff for navigation. The weather is getting sunnier and the lakes are getting prettier, plenty to see for sure.

Then of course, as the day gets closer, the forecast gets crappier. I’m due to fly late afternoon and my weather app has been bleating at me all morning “WEATHER ALERT!” and “SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH IN EFFECT”*

The METAR is slightly more subdued but even it is calling for a 30% chance of totally unflyable weather.

I wait as long as I can, call flight services for their take on it all. It’s looking OKish at the moment, hazy but technically still good VFR visibility, winds a little gusty but mostly down the runway. Some convective clouds but not as much as advertised, jeez, who knows?

I need to fly, as I’ll be out of currency in a few days, so I decide to just hop down for a few circuits. I could do with the landing practice anyways. RTH decides not to join me, he has shelves he apparently needs to attack with a circular saw.

When I arrive my plane is still airborne, the owner starts fussing about why it is late ( it isn’t really) but I let him know that I don’t like the look of the weather so I’m only gonna fling it round the block a few times. No hurry.

I chat while I wait, TOI from my practice flight test is there, I haven’t seen him in a while but it is nice to chat. I shall remain ever grateful to him, my actual flight test was pretty much a carbon copy of what he put me through. It helped. A lot.

Eventually I get to my plane and figure out just how to get myself set up in this thing again. I think the planes are punishing me for being away for so long, we don’t seem to play as nicely together as we once did.

I get the engine started first time, yay me. Obviously some skills remain with you. We are on the dreaded 08. I get the expected taxi instructions and start to move off, ATC then ask me to hold abeam foxtrot.

I’m totally Ok with this, I assume that they want to get the conga line of at least two Porter’s out ahead of me. Fine by me.

Nope, turns out that they are landing a helicopter and want me out of the blast zone, looks like I’m leading this conga line. Which sucks because it’s been officially aaaaages since I had to tuck it into that little corner on alpha. If I get it wrong this time. I’m going to be annoying a whole load of paying customers as they wait for me to flick the switches and check the dials during my run up.

As it turns out. I get her tucked in just fine and am rewarded with a cheery wave from the crew of the Q400 as they pass around me.

So far so good, I’ve made it to the hold short line and I’m dialing up the tower to see who is around. I need to hear because with the yucky haze stuff around, seeing isn’t that helpful.

Well what do you know, the first voice I hear is familiar, very familiar. It’s Bob! Apparently he’s established on the right downwind for 08 and is informing ATC that they will be doing a simulated engine failure to a full stop. I’m delighted to hear that I wasn’t the only student he pulls this kind of stunt on. I briefly wonder if the student is learning of this impending failure at the same time I am!
I get my takeoff clearance and do exactly that, JES and I launch off for a quick set of circuits..

*Alerts like this may seem melodramatic but we occasionally do get weather that could constitute dangerous. One of the big differences between “bad weather” in the UK and “bad weather” in Canada is that the former is irksome to be out in, the latter hazardous.

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