Sunday, October 05, 2014

IMC and 'Not So' Big Sky

Friday 10/3/2014
Today started off on a bright note with wx looking good and even better for a planned Sunday return north.  Saturday’s forecast was calling for rain, heavy at times in Wilmington, showers in OCMD.  I figured it would be a good time to get a few things done at the beach home.  At 3pm I made a run for the door, exiting work and heading to the house for a quick check since it had a showing earlier in the day.
I should have taken a few things with me but I just wanted to get in the air and pointed south.  08Romeo needed fuel so after a quick start up and shut down I had 30 additional gallons on board.  The run up went smoothly, every item on my check list noted and acceptable.  I put in a call to clearance delivery at Philly and noted my typical CRAFT report with some changes.  I had figured on once again trying N57 DQO ENO ATR KOXB but I can’t seem to get that to pass muster.  Instead, fifteen minutes later I copied the norm, MXE DQO ENO SBY KOXB. I did get six thousand and according to the Skew T diagrams that would put me above the IMC layer.  As the saying goes…one out of two ain’t bad.
I announce and taxi for departure on runway two-four. Gusty cross winds but nothing 08Romeo can’t have fun with. I weathervane on climb out, announce my departure intentions and flip to approach.  I checked in with Philly and they give me four thousand after a right turn climbing out on downwind.  That was a first and I think letting me climb higher for longer or keeping me pointed away from the airport would have been safer. One never knows who may be on a forty-five for that same downwind…it’s funny how we process this stuff.
SO close to the top I could see the sun light the clouds up

I center the needles and keep on keeping on at four pointed for direct Smyrna (ENO). Eventually I’m handed to another Philly sector, 119.75 and then on to Dover 135.15.  I notice there is traffic on my Zaon PCAS, a few miles behind and a thousand higher.  We are each on with Dover approach and get called out to each other for traffic advisories.  The Cessna 182 gets six thousand, I got nothing.  I asked for higher but was kept at four thousand banging out the IMC time.  On occasion I had ground contact, more south of Dover (KDOV) but gone by Georgetown (KGED).  I was handed off to Patuxent 127.95 and advised I had the wx at my destination, which was VFR.  Of course the 182 was headed in to OXB and he asked for the visual. I was following along thinking I would get a hold at PFAIR but I was cleared direct and lowered.  Once I broke out I could see the coast no problem, so I canceled and went in VFR.
Happy girl with her head resting on my tummy.

Sunday 10/5/2014

Sunday was a good day for the boardwalk so Mary, Ziva and I did some walking.  Mary had a soft ice cream, Ziva got plenty of attention from everyone passing by and I got a caramel apple from Dolle’s. We headed back to the house and settled in for the afternoon.  My wx check looked great and as long as I was in the air by 5:30 I would be happy.  Mary was dealing with a migraine headache Saturday and a slight headache again today. Mary wore dark glasses and soldiered through the boardwalk for a couple hours but I could see the squinty eyes and tired look.  She had all the signs but she knew it and got comfy on the couch while I watched football. I refilled my ice tea and while I was up grabbed a blanket to cover my Bride.  With my Bride tucked in and Ziva sound asleep I sat back and watched the Eagles play, and win.
RT. 50 inlet bridge
I headed out to the airport after the game and was in the air some time around 4:30.  I had no flight plan filed this trip but I did monitor Dover, Philly and Wilmington as I made my way to N57.  I hung out at three thousand riding a tailwind and some rodeo gusty winds.  I announced my typical ten and five mile inbound for full stop calls and kept an eye on the PCAS that was showing a blip around six miles. That blip changed to five, then four down to two and now a mile and a half. The sun glare looking west south west was brutal, the Rosen visors did help and I finally had eyes on the target.  Big sky?  Not at this very moment.
RT 90 Bridge
I made another call on New Gardens CTAF but no response, the Piper kept coming.  I lost the plane briefly in the sun then saw it again now pointed at me and closing.  I powered up into a climb and banked away to the right, the PCAS echoed my turn and as soon as the distance opened I leveled and looked again. The Piper had stayed level and banked right, crossing behind me.  Not sure how close we got but my guess was a mile or less.  I settled down and reminded myself I was clear and needed to think landing, fly the plane dummy.  I turned from base to final giving the sky and PCAS a final look and all was clear. I made one of my best landings at New Garden and was off on the first taxiway.
Cape Henlopen and Cape May across the Delaware Bay
As I taxied in I heard a Piper call his position, a forty-five for the left downwind runway two-four.  I came to a stop just before the hangars and pointed across the grass so I had a clear view of the plane now turning base to final. It was the same plane that passed behind me.  I watched them land and decided it was best to make my way to my hangar.  I shut down, opened the hangar doors and parked the SUV out on the adjacent hangar ramp.  I could hear a plane heading my way but the hangars were blocking the view. As I went to the baggage door to grab my tow bar the Piper turned down my taxi lane.  Hmmm…the thought ran through my mind that this could get interesting.  I pushed 08Romeo in the hangar and the Piper taxied right up my ramp nose first, shutting down maybe ten feet from my doors, which were wide open.  I still had no idea who this was, didn’t recognize the plane or pilot.  The right seat was a young lady, in her teens and the pilot and young man, maybe forty at a guess, they both smiled and waved.

This was a hangar neighbor and he parks across the taxi lane from me. He turns into my ramp like I do his after every flight so we can push back without turning our planes while going up the hill.  I’ve never met him or saw his hangar open since I’ve been at New Garden.  He seemed like a very nice guy and his daughter just as nice.  I asked them if they had a radio problem and he confirmed it was intermittent. He admitted that his daughter pointed out the traffic, ME, and he took evasive action like I did.  I thanked her for riding along today.  I guess it’s a reminder that it is always SEE and AVOID while we are in the air.  I am thankful for the Zaon traffic, it saved my bacon today.


Steve said...

It never ceases to amaze me how small our theoretical big sky can sometimes be. I don't think I know a single pilot who hasn't had one of those moments at some point.

And hey, it's certainly one way to meet your neighbor! ;-)

Gary said...


I guess that was one way to meet least it was a nice chat, 'on the ground'!