Pushing the limits
I rarely fly in IMC.
First off, not too many pilots I know want to fly in IMC. Second most of my flying is, for that coveted ham (veg) burger and there is rarely a need to set off in IMC conditions for that. So yeah, I know no one who wants to fly in IMC or through icing scenarios.
And yes, this was my first foray into icing conditions!
Sometimes, I set off with my favorite CFI (see Night and Actual ) or a favorite safety pilot (see Chasing Clouds )when the limits are reasonable for either an IFR flight in actual IMC or a VFR on top flight, or for shooting an approach at an airport with minimums much higher than necessary for a brand new IFR flight.
Occasionally, I fly with a friend of mine as a safety pilot. I am totally comfortable with his flying skills, so much so that I don’t even plan to adjust my seat position to be able to reach the rudder pedals.
That is how confident I am of his flying skills!
Did I mention that just after I became a private pilot, I learnt to fly from the right seat and land? I was flying with so many different pilots of different skills, that I wanted to learn to land from the right seat, if necessary.
This was one of those days, when the weather was iffy.
Ceiling at 3,900 ft and visibility at 3 miles. We discussed and perused the weather for a solid hour. Both of us were instrument current. After much discussion we departed with the plan to return if uncomfortable.
Maybe it was because I flew almost 28 hours recently in different weather conditions, over oceans, in IMC, conquered NEMO, strong winds and more. Or maybe it was because I knew I could land this baby if necessary from the right seat. Or maybe I had confidence in my friend to keep us safe. I was relaxed.
The snow was supposed to come later.
I quietly said, “I think, I see ice. It is hard to make out if it is raining or snowing”.
My friend took a peek and knew it was not good. He had turned on the pitot heat as added protection. “We need to return,” he said.
And I concurred.
Visibility was deteriorating rapidly.
“Potomac Approach,” he said, “We need to fly back IFR.”
With the approach plugged in, we were glad of our two iPads with Foreflight. With at least one Foreflight Pro iPad, we were assured of the geo-reference tracking.
What are your limits when flying in IMC?
Drop me a line…