Archive for May, 2009
FINALLY got back up in the air this weekend! Also did a good job keeping my currency up for another 90 days as I logged a total of five landings. Garrett & I took off from 52F and headed down to Forth Worth Spinks. This airport is just around the corner from Tia & Uncle’s house, so Uncle came to the airport to fly with us! I flew right over his truck on final.
At my standard ten miles out, I contacted Spinks Tower and informed them of my intentions. The controller asked me to report a left downwind for runway 34L. Right about this time, I noticed some heavy rain in the area. Nothing at the airport, but within a few miles of the runway. No thunderstorms or convective activity either. Just some spots of heavy rain.
Heavy rain looks funny from the air. When you are sitting at ground level or driving, heavy rain makes you wet and reduces your visibility. We’ve all been in those situations where you are driving down the road and come up on a heavy rain shower. We have to slow down, maybe put the wipers on high, and squint to see as much as we can.
The difference from the air, is that you can actually see rain falling at altitude (like Springfield & I did a while back) from a distance, and you can also see the areas on the ground where heavy rain affects visibility.
Or rather, you CAN’T see them.
Where trees and roads should be, just a grayed out splotch exists… even if you are below the cloud deck. It’s very strange, and while I had good visibility of the runway when I finally did reach the downwind leg of my approach, those splotchy areas were getting closer to the airport and were easily within two miles now.
The controller called me and said that there was rain in the vicinity of the airport, but nothing actually AT the airport. Based on where I was in the pattern, I was confident that I would make it down before any of that massive rain came my way.
I was correct!
As I was turning base, I heard a noise I had never heard before in the cockpit. It sounded like the “Tic-Tic-Tic” of tiny sleet on a window. I looked up and noticed little rain drops on the window. Still had great visibility, noted the rain, and turned final. Landing was uneventful, and once I was on the ground and clear of the runway, the tower had me contact ground control to taxi over to the FBO. Once we were there, and totally shut down, the rain picked up. Finally made it to the airport, but not the blinding rain that I was seeing from the air. Heavy rain for sure, but still with enough visibility to be VFR.
After the rain subsided, we picked up Uncle and did a flying tour of Mansfield. Then decided to do a couple of touch & go’s at Arlington, and finally headed back to Spinks.
After a bathroom break for the little one, it was time to head back before any more rain decided to pop up! We gave hugs, then got out of Spinks, heading to 52F. The flight back was uneventful, though I noticed that about 10 minutes after I landed, the other 172 from the flight school landed in the wrong direction with a slight tail wind. The runway at 52F is only 40 feet wide, and 3,500 feet full length.
NOT a lot of room for error. In fact, according to the NTSB, no fatalities have happened since 2004, but there are six accidents on file (one of which is that other SportStar), four of which are landing accidents. No incident occurred, but man, you gotta be careful about that stuff.
Anyway, good flight even if I didn’t climb over three thousand!