Monday, June 2, 2008

T-Storms: See and Avoid

Husband was planning to be gone all day Sunday, and I wanted to do some flying while I still could. Thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day, so we decided to get out early and go for breakfast. This basically required a crow bar to get me out of bed early as I am not a morning person. I used to bounce right out of bed to go flying, but I guess I must be getting jaded as I now have to have a conversation with myself to make it out of bed early. It goes something like:
"Ok. Time to get up."
"Oh, but this Heavenly Bed is soooo soft. I don't wanna get up!"
"But there's an airplane out there waiting for you... and pretty nice weather. Don't you want to go flying?"
"Weeeeell.... Maybe. Though it doesn't sound that fun right this moment, I can sort of remember that when I actually am flying it's awfully fun. Then, there's
always the landing... that's fun."
"So that's it, you're going to get up!"
"In theory, yes. We'll see how it goes."

Luckily, at this point, Husband stepped in with some coffee. I don't drink it often, that way it really does the trick when I need it. Thank goodness for Husband! (Course, don't think he's too chivalrous-- he knows he only gets to go flying if he's able to get me out of bed!)

A little later on, I was glad to have gotten up early. The radar was showing storms-a-comin'. We had originally planned to head up to Lancaster for breakfast and a trip to the pilot shop there... but decided to instead head to York for those most excellent pancakes. Once we got off of JYO, though, we could see the buildups in the distance. A quick check of the Nexrad confirmed that the storms were already moving in. The briefer had said the storms were moving about 50 knots/hr, and it seems he was correct. So, we made a quick decision, did a 360 while we set things up, and then turned back for FDK. After a go-around (maybe we didn't quite get things set up, after all!), we re-entered the pattern and landed in variable and gusty wind.

Breakfast at FDK was pretty good-- though York pancakes still hold the title. Then we headed over to the flight school to pick up some charts for Husband. While in the flight school, we left a message for F, an old college friend recently rediscovered. After a quick preflight, we were back in the air and headed home. An uneventful flight with a nice landing. I always wondered if I really put the correct wing down on crosswind landings-- I'm not really able to think about it while doing it, I just instinctively do it. Sure enough, I do-- because this time, I somehow put the wrong wing down for a second, but realized it instantly and was able to correct in time for a good landing.

After landing, we stuck around to clean off all the dead bugs on the cowling and leading edges. Yuck. I guess it's bug season again. I'll need to keep a close eye on things to make sure birds don't try to nest in the elevator again. (See this AOPA blog about things nesting.) We also warned a couple of fellow pilots headed over to MRB about the buildups we'd seen. I think they changed their plans. I felt bad for being the bearer of bad news-- but who wants to fly into thunderstorms!?


flyaway said...

that sounds like an excellent way to start the day. i wish i had done the same. on bird nests, i was down in luray (W45) recently and saw this somewhat strange looking 172 parked in front. it had the cowling oil access panel open and styrofoam stuck in various openings in the elevator and rudder. at first i thought it wasn't flyable but then found out that they were there to prevent nests. the oil flap was open because they won't nest in sunlight. the airport mgr (pilot, IA, A&P, CFI, ...) there is very helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. that trip down there was in the car. the next one i'm hoping is via the air.

Head in the Clouds said...

Good Dog has also had foam (though not styrofoam-- just regular foam) in various orifices. We had birds build a nest in the elevator last year, so Dick put foam in the holes that you see when you move it back and forth. You can buy specially formed bits to put in there-- but he just took a hunk of foam and cut off a piece that we shoved into place. We also had to put some at the very back. We tied long red ribbons around each piece so that no one would miss it during preflight. Thankfully, we did finally get rid of the birds, though I occasionally still find pieces of straw left over. He said the planes parked next to the grassy area between the ramp and the taxiway are most prone to bird buildups. Hopefully, we won't experience any in the nose as that would be a lot more worrisome to me! Having a bird fly out during preflight was pretty startling the first time.