Friday, August 16, 2019

Flight Planning Revisited

In the past, I have put together a few flight planning posts to detail my process and I have read a few of my favorite blogs about their process. It's time I revisit the subject, for my own good, and maybe share a tool that you may not use at this time.

Up until this week I have played around with flight planning just to keep in the game, since the accident. However, this week I am in it for real. As much as I hate to admit it, I feel a bit rusty. 

One of the keys to this trip is that it's an overnight only. For Mary and I that limits our window for arrival. We want to arrive early morning so as to take advantage of a full day with our friends. Early arrival also means getting the most bang for the buck with hotels, hangaring the plane, the rental car, and boarding Ziva.

Lets get started... 

A first step is checking all TFR's and NOTAM's. We all have our favorites for putting together a flight plan, I really like Foreflight. So, let's start there for the basic plan.

There were multiple options but I like the V1 route the best. Following V1 keeps you close to land. If you look close you may wonder why, if like V1, did I not go over JFK. Good question. With the POTUS TFR's I thought it best to give some room and maybe not have to deal with a reroute from approach, time will tell. Here is a blow up shot of the slight change for JFK.
The Yellow route was the original intended plan but I made the slight change from DIXIE to LOKOE then on to DPK, Deer Park VOR.  The overall flight time is two hours and thirty minutes with a few knots tailwind. 

Ok, this part I'm solid on. I love to plot a course and work the best flight plan. The fun is trying every possible combination for best fuel prices and balancing out each leg of the flight. This one was really easy, one leg, a non-stop.

On to the weather...

This is where I need to shed some rust. It's true if you don't use it, you will loose it.  Foreflight provides all the imagery you will need to flight plan.  I still check NOAA and a few other places but the best combined info with easy access has been Foreflight.

The plan is to depart OXB by 7am and arrive at Lawrence LWM around 9:30. We have a hangar secured along with a hotel and rental car. 
PROG Chart
The first look is from the NOAA Aviation Weather Center, the same chart on Foreflight. This is the Low Level Significant Weather Chart. Our destination is calling for ceilings less then one thousand feet and visibility less then three miles.
Above is the Ceiling Height forecast and below is the Visibility Forecast for our approximate arrival time.
Normally I would review the ice levels but for this summertime trip it warrants just a cursory glance. Winds aloft is showing the tailwinds I mentioned and it doesn't look too bad for our return trip.  Here are the charts for 24 hours out, at six and nine thousand feet.
Last but not least is the terminal area forecast (TAF). I like to give this a look and I monitor closely right up until launch.  I also look at all alternate landing locations that I have planned. 

 Looking at the TAF I would normally bump my departure and push the scheduled arrival to sometime after 11am. Whats the big deal, I'm IFR rated, recently passed my IPC, I should be good to go.  That doesn't check all the boxes for me, yes, I am current, but NO, I'm not proficient. 

I haven't flown in actual since April of 2018. At that time I was a proficient IFR pilot, capable of shooting approaches to minimums without a second thought. Since the accident in June of 18, the only IMC flying I've done is under the foggles for the transition training and IPC. That's just not good enough for me or carrying passengers. 

It feels good to review all the wx information and plan my attack on the flight. Sadly, I need to get some actual or a brutal simulated IMC torture session with a CFII.

There will be plenty of opportunities to head north and visit our family and friends. For this mission I'm going to call it a no-go. If for no other reason then just to be safe and not put myself in a potential bad situation. I'm chomping at the bit to get back to where I was with my flying, but, I know it takes time. I now have the ride, I have the right mindset, now I need to focus on the patience to get to where I was with regard to being proficient. 

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