After a hiatus of almost 6 months, the dc99s kicked off their flying season with a flight to Lewisburg (LWB) WV. It was one of those days when the forecast weather was glorious at the departure airport: 80s with sunny skies with a chance of rain in the afternoon which is common on most days during summer in the east coast.
Debbie and I set off in her C182 G1000. The decision was last minute. Since her aircraft was off for maintenance. Given the glorious weekend weather we pushed our monthly flyout to Sunday so her aircraft would be back in action and also not to overlap the International Learn to Fly day.
We departed Frederick Airport (FDK) to clear, blue, warm skies. Before we knew it, 30 miles out we hit dark gloomy skies with rain bearing clouds! Wasn’t this supposed to be one of those glorious summer days? Unsure what lay ahead I prompted Debbie to turn around 180 degrees. Fortunately her C182 G1000 was equipped with Weather, and Traffic information. Looking at the rain cells and considering our options, we plotted a route to circumvent those cells. A little longer route but still do able. So we pressed on. What looked impossible in that instant, watching Debbie navigate and see her comfort zone, I knew she was okay with flying through a little rain and dark gloomy weather. “Look below,” she said,” we are still VFR.
Dodging a few clouds, at times a little hazy skies at times blue skies, we made it to Lewisburg, WV. The skies there were pristine blue. The mountains a crisp green from all the recent rains. It always amazes me how green Virginia ( and West Virginia) is during summer. You see, I am used to California where the hills turn brown in summer. The contrast is acute.
After tying down the aircraft, we set off to the Dutch Haas restaurant on the field for some delicious lunch of : French onion soup, tomato basil soup, salad and sandwich with fresh ice tea.
The return journey was a breeze. With ground speed close to 150 knots we made good time back to Frederick. We still needed to dodge a few clouds, stay out of restricted airspace and watch for terrain, but still the return was a lot easier. Any issues we had were of pilots wanting to land against the flow: while it appeared that runway 21 was being used, we had one pilot setting up for 5, and a non speaking helicopter trying to fly parallel to us (too closely for comfort) to land on the taxiway. Kudos to Debbie for some quick thinking maneuvers on final to stay clear of the incommunicable helicopter, slipping it nicely to the runway and stopping prior to the intersecting runway 5 which was being used by the other pilot going against the flow. Welcome to non towered airports!