Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fogged Out

I had to cancel another trip. I shouldn't be surprised: a simple single in the heart of the Rockies in the middle of winter isn't much airplane. And my ego forces me to broadcast "I could do it, but the airplane wasn't capable." I've done the mountain strips on moonless nights, in turbocharged or turboprop twins. I've done the "moderate" ice that proved severe (freight dogs "protect" each other by reporting moderating, since many carriers have Operations Specifications, and many airplanes have limitations, about severe ice). Nope, I can do it, but the airplane can't.

In the Archer, I can do an ILS to 100'. Wait, isn't Decision Height usually 200'? Yes, but by 14CFR91.175, you can descend to 100' if you see the approach lights; below that, you need to see the runway environment. I did the 100' decision height under the hood last week.

But nowadays I am more of a mathematics professor than professional pilot, and all I have is the Archer or the Cherokee Six. The Archer has better radios. Neither has de-icing of any kind.

And neither one has two engines.

So the other day when it was time to decide I looked at the METARs and TAFs and the icing forecast and the like. High pressure dominated the Snake River Plain and there were inversions and low fog. No problem! I've landed in Boise when everyone else was missing; there's really no excuse when you have minimums.

The problem was the enroute weather. Burley was at minimums. Twin Falls was forecast below minimums I would have more than one hour's flight time with no place to go when something went wrong.

In a King Air, 414, or even a Seneca, I would have launched. But the same line of reasoning that stops me from flying an Archer (or any other single, except maybe a PC12) across Lake Michigan keeps me from flying the Snake River Plain under fog, at night, with ne enroute alternates.



So I drove. The good part, I thought, would be seeing some new countryside along the unfamiliar route. Wrong: It was too foggy to see much. Sigh.

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