Four years ago…
Miami Center, can we get direct Ft. Pierce,” I asked eying the ominous looking dark clouds at our 12 o’clock.
“Unable for the next 10 minutes. Maintain heading,” responded Miami Center.
We had departed Bimini, our final halt in the Bahamas before heading back to the States. It was cloudy and IMC along the Florida Coast and we had filed an IFR flight plan for the return. Bimini is a mere 10nm miles from the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ ) and with luck, we had circled as we climbed to altitude and after multiple attempts, finally established radio contact with Miami Center. This was not only crucial since we were in-bound, crossing the ADIZ, but also because weather along our route was mostly IMC.
We proceeded as directed, continuing to watch the rapidly approaching weather system, straight ahead. When is the best time to tell the controller I am unable to follow his directive, I pondered. The system ahead looked turbulent and moisture laden. It is not fun heading into this mess in a Cessna 172. But I was also curious to see how it felt, how I would handle it, and understand my limits. Fortunately, just as we started penetrating the mess, Miami Center, cleared us direct to Ft. Pierce, so we could avoid the system.
Unable might seem like a taboo word, something you should never use or one you feel affronted to use since it admits a weakness of some sort or some such frivolous reason, but believe it or not it is the most effective word in your pilot lingo that might just save the day.
Continue to read here.
I almost missed this milestone.
This month marked two decades since my first intro flight when I officially began my flight training. Has it really been that long?
I still fondly and vividly remember that day like yesterday, when I flew my first solo.
Or that first cross country I made to King City, that made me nervous I would get lost. Or better yet that second long cross-country to South County airport that required two go-arounds, to the ire of others in the traffic pattern.
Or the first foray to Bakersfield after getting my ticket and getting lost for dialing in the wrong VOR frequency and having a non-functioning transponder! How about that first ILS approach into Watsonville in actual IMC after getting my instrument rating ?
Or that time I took my friend from college to Monterey and experienced my first instrument failure.
Or the long solo cross country to satisfy the requirements for commercial pilot license.
Seems like yesterday 🙂
After a rejuvenating Young Women in Engineering Event, meeting and networking with high school girls, I was reminded of what inspired me.
First posted in 2003.
From Fall of 2000. Enjoy!
Yes that is how every memory we make is.
Unforgettable by Lane Wallace is a book about flying. It is about Lane’s ten best flights. From the Swiss Alps to Key West, from Alaska to Sudan to Mexico and even to the edge of space.
Unforgettable is also about the passion and the joy of flying: be it in a piper cub, a U-2 space plane, a blimp or a Grumman Cheetah.
Unforgettable is also about the wonder of flying: the emotions that race through the authors mind as she experiences and explores the world.
Each experience is unique and unforgettable and provides valuable insights into life, living, the joy of flying and the incredible resilience and fortitude of the human race for survival and happiness. Ultimately you must feel it personally to experience any connection with the author’s view. If you are passionate about flying, and enjoy the simple joy of it, Unforgettable is a must read.
One fine October day, several years ago, I had the distinct pleasure to attend an event that left a tremendous impact on me. I had just soled and was flying my first cross country to Santa Barbara (SBA) with my flight instructor. As we landed after the cross country flight, my instructor had said:
“I have an extra ticket to the SLO99s banquet, do you want to go?”
“Sure”, I responded, even though I was excited and tired after our flight. Although I had heard about the 99s, in those days, as a future women pilot, I was not eligible for membership.
As I listened to the calm, quiet voice of Lane and her passionate exposition on the wonder and joy of flying, my own enthusiasm and passions were sharply awakened. Writing was something I had yearned to do since I was in high school. Here and now was a voice I could relate to. The emotions, the excitement and the passions that Lane described appeared so inline with my own views and passions about flying. That unforgettable day, rekindled the fires within me to write. In actuality my flying adventures are the fodder to my writing. Since that fateful day, I have devoured the Flying Magazine (i.e. until recently :-)). The first article I always read was Flying Lessons by Lane Wallace. More recently my copy of the Sport Aviation Magazine actually started to see some wear. Unfailingly, on the day I receive it, I swiftly open it to get my fill of Flying Lessons by Lane Wallace.
You can learn more about Lane by visiting her personal websites:
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…
Steve Rossiter is an ATP/CFII in both helicopters and fixed wing; flying two tours in Vietnam and two tours as an Army Instructor Pilot (one in helicopters and one in airplanes). He has been a CFI and professional pilot for over 50 years.
There is the old saw about getting your Private Pilot certificate, that it “is a ticket to learn,” meaning that you’ve just gotten the little slip of paper that lets you learn to be a better pilot. I totally buy that. I didn’t count on forgetting some of the things I learned, though. To get […]
Derby Day. Check-ride Anniversary. And most importantly the simply joy of flying!
May is always memorable. I got my Private Pilot Certificate. Three years later I got my Instrument rating.
“I hope we will be done by 3:00 pm, ” said Wanda, “I wan’t to watch the Kentucky Derby”
“I hope so too,” thought I. “With positive results.” For it was the day of my private pilot check-ride and I wanted to get home without a pink slip!
It was also Derby Day. And getting home to watch the race would be good too…
I did make it home in time to catch the race that day. That was 16 years ago!
As it happens, Derby day is tomorrow this year (5/6/2017).
Always Dreaming or Fast and Accurate?
Take your pick!