Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Recollections of Something I Used To Be Able To Do Well...

...before Facebook...and before going back to motorsports...

I ended up flying home today. At noon when I left the customer's site, the forecast for BDR mid-afternoon was still for 800 feet, but BDR was reporting 1000. I looked at the reports for the last few hours and it was fairly consistent. I could see that some rain was working its way in from the southwest, but the stations under it were reporting 800-1000. I elected to go.

I started from ALB with full tanks, and was in between layers until around abeam BDL. Then the clouds and rain started. Odd stuff, as BDL was 1500 or better; the wx seemed isolated to the coastline and Long Island.

I called BDR FSS and re-checked the ATIS. The BDR ATIS was still calling 600 broken, 1000 overcast as I started to get vectors for the ILS. Right about then the rain started in earnest; I got into some Level 2 rain during the vector, and the controller thought he saw some Level 3; I asked to be vectored around that. In the end he lost the Level 3 and sent me around to STANE.

Right about then my VSI and altimeter started bouncing up and down; I guessed the static ports were getting blocked and unblocked by rain. I hit the alternate static and kept going. (I think I left it on...gotta  check it this weekend.)

The vector to the inbound course (2000 feet) was in full IMC, and he cleared me for the approach. I captured the localizer and engaged the autopilot, then caught the glideslope no prob. Still IMC. As I dropped under 800 feet I was still in the clouds and I mentally prepped for a miss.

I was flying the ILS, but I had the GPS loaded with the RNAV06 approach (same approach points, nice visual backup). Right before STANE the GPS called off my RNAV 06 approach due to lack of RAIM at STANE (I wonder if the rain was blocking the signal?) Unfortunately, I was counting on that box for my missed approach info, so I had to quickly dial in the BDR VOR on the stand-by freq (single VOR) and dialed in the miss radial (I know, shoulda had it there before...)

The rain got harder (and noisier) and I dropped through 500 feet in the clouds. I was planning the miss.

Right as I hit 400 feet I saw side glances of some "jaggies" under the airplane and right then I dropped out of the clouds and caught sight of RWY 06 (sure would be nice to have a rabbit there). The winds were 110 at 15, so I had a nice right crosswind; the tower wanted me to circle to RWY11 (circling minimums being 400-something feet) I told him to pound sand and I landed RWY 06; skidded a tad bit on the wet pavement from not enough aileron.

There was a nice driving rain going on at the field, and when I turned off and called him I got no response. I tried again several times, then tried Ground and Clearance. Just when I was about to taxi off on my own (3-4 minutes later) he popped on the freq and said someone was working on the radios and had turned off one his receivers!

ANYWAY, I taxied to the North Ramp and got soaked all the way through tying down the airplane and putting my luggage in the car and covering the airplane. Even bent one of my favorite umbrellas...

All in all, a fun, successful, learning experience! Total time, door-to-door, 2.5 hours. Same trip, prior week, driving the blue S4 -- 2.5 hours. Oh well.

Thanks for the advice. Didn't know why they had changed the minimums to RWY06; seems goofy to me. If you hit a truck shooting the ILS06, you weren't where you were supposed to be anyway...

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