first XC after PPL - weather diversion, VFR on Top and ADM

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by WannFly, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    well my XC today from KFAR to KBIS turned out to be very interesting and got to use a bunch of things we are trained for as pilots.

    first of all, i am sharing my experience, not telling anyone how to fly and i used all resources available to a pilot before i decided to make the trip.

    weather was supposed to be nice all day today apart from Airmet for icing and mod turb. there is another thread where i asked and confirmed that as long as there is no visible moisture, i am good. asked my CFI about airmet T, but thats about the only indication out there, surface winds are about 8 kts in KFAR and KBIS and all the airports in between. after consulting pretty much every weather products out there , spoke to FSS who told me that there is a front moving but it seems stuck and fargo could get into MVFR after 3, but chances are less. consulted my CFI who reviewed my plan and showed no concern.

    my way out in case the forecast doesnt match (like everytime), stay at bismarck or jamestown. i dont have to get back to fargo tonight.

    took off at 1000 CST, ride to Bismarck was as smooth as it gets with few occasional bumps here and there (so much for Tango) . reported smooth ride etc. approaching KBIS, approach asked me if i would like to take a ASR no gyro approach. told them i am not IFR rated, but if you can do it VFR i am all in. great experience there. this was one thing i wanted to do in my training, somehow never happened.

    at KBIS, checked weather again and saw that the front is moving faster than predicted. most airports in North were already IFR and MVFR. grabbed a coffee and a passport stamp and started coming back to Fargo (1240 CST). Fargo was still VFR. also checked few weather to the South, they were all VFR

    i was hauling ass and making 145 GS, over james town there was a scattered layer way down below, same crossing KBAC (Valley City). but as i started approaching fargo, things were not looking good. after my handover to KFAR Approach i asked for field condition and got ceiling 1900. my CFI was in the air, provided a pirep of in and out of clouds at 3k. my GPS was showing 14 mins to land and tell you what? its a huge pressure rt there. at one point i was thinking, well its just 14 mins, i will be in TRSA soon and i have done maneuvers in this area a lot of times and as long as i stay over I-94 i am pretty much guaranteed not to hit anything. before i could finish my thought i realized the whole layer below me (i was 7500) is getting thicker and thicker. never lost ground contact, but would have for sure if i had kept pressing on. few ASI videos came to mind.... keys in the mike and said i am going back to James town.

    handed off to MSP center at 6500 after crossing KBAC, same issue... came down to 4500 and i wasnt sure if i was going under the layer or over it. more ASI stories (Stuck on top) comes to mind. i ditched james town and made an uneventful landing at KBAC.

    rt now typing this from FBO computer. called airport manager and put Kate in an heated hangar (FREE if you buy fuel, gotta love ND). waiting for a "friend" to come pick me up....
    after landing told CFI, he said the ceiling is at 1700 AGL. i could have flows at 1200 AGL and still be legal, visibility is more than 10 miles.. but i made a decision to land here and fly tomorrow. may be the last 15 mins to Fargo would have been very uneventful, but i didnt wanted to find out first hand. i did what i was trained to do. when it feels iffy and there are lot of may be;s involved, find the first VFR airport, land and then do all monday quarter backing at 0 kts

    ohh, something you dont learn in PPL, IFR, Commercial or even in NASA.... i had to learn on my own... how to push 2000 lbs of metal into a hanger over 1 inch of black ice for about 100 ft.. took me an hour.

    loving the GA experience (no sarcasm here, the cloud layer below me was AWESOMEEEEEEE) and living my dreams... but IFR... here i come.
     
  2. Skates97

    Skates97 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I think it was good decision making on your part. Thanks for sharing. Well done, as people say, "Better to be down here wishing you were up there, than up there wishing you were down here."
     
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  3. eman1200

    eman1200 Final Approach

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    sounds like a great learning experience
     
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  4. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    It was, something u only learn in theory during ur PPL. I guess now I realize why they call it license to learn

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  5. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform Pattern Altitude

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    Good decision making, you are still here to share. Did not allow a link in a potential accident chain. Thanks for sharing!
     
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  6. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude

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    Well done pilot.

    so you took Kate ice skating huh?
    you ol' romantic...
     
  7. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    Lol...it was more like me skating around her and she ain't budging

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  8. Skyrys62

    Skyrys62 Pattern Altitude

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    Sounds like a typical relationship!
     
  9. fudge80

    fudge80 Pre-Flight

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    Flying up here I've canceled more than a few flights because of the weather. It's only a 15min fly to KJMS from the airport I have my plane parked at.
     
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  10. steingar

    steingar Taxi to Parking

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    If I had a nickel for every time I ever diverted for Wx I..., wouldn’t be all that rich, but I could buy one heck of a cup of coffee!
     
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  11. Wade

    Wade Pre-takeoff checklist

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    ASR no gyro approach?
     
  12. Salty

    Salty Pattern Altitude

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    Nobody's going to make a big deal about the use of the phrase "VFR on top"? I thought this was PoA
     
  13. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    Approach surveillance radar. I believe they use it if u are in IMC with a vacuum pump failure. U turn when they ask u to turn and stop when asked.

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  14. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This is a kinder gentler POA with a thousand points of light.
     
  15. Ryanb

    Ryanb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I remember the first time I did an ASR in training. Called up approach and requested the ASR on 02. The controller came back and said "our supervisor is going to get on and do it for you." Changed to the final approach frequency for discrete two-way between controller and pilot. Neat experience.
     
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  16. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    I was thinking about it just after I posted.... POA has come a long way

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  17. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    ASR's and PSR's are fun and easy. They actually like the request at KACT and KNFW because they need the practice to stay current on their side.

    I'm surprised they offered it, followed by needing to arrange it. Could be the supervisor just had to be listening along with the original controller.
     
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  18. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Good work. It’s freezing fog here in western ND this morning. Forecast calls for sunny and nearly calm later so I may take the Cub out. Fall weather is just schizophrenic. You need to be prepared to wait for conditions to improve but you rarely have to wait a long time. Don’t forget to stamp your passport at your diversion airport.
     
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  19. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Good write up. If you had it to do again, same circumstances, would you have changed anything?
     
  20. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    No gyro vectors can be used anytime, not just for Radar Approaches, either ASR or PAR. All ya gotta do is ask. That being said, not all controllers are going to be real familiar with or very good at it.
     
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  21. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    Ha, didn't know that

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  22. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    Well, not really, I checked every resources that were available to me before and en route. The only thing I could have done was to scratch the flight since there was a chance of MVFR after 3 pm.

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  23. HornetDriver

    HornetDriver Filing Flight Plan

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    Good decision making.

    No gyro vectors aren't part of the ASR, but they are used for attitude indicator failures. ASR is simply a non-precision radar approach.

    I've shot a lot of PARs and a handful of ASRs, but I've never heard of a PSR. Is that a thing or just a typo?
     
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  24. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Good job diverting to BAC. I had this happen to me once with the ceiling closing underneath me in another state, never been that glad to tie down the airplane. On a side note, BAC must be notorious for ice. Last winter I landed there and it's the first and only time I've landed on an ice runway (Foreflight said concrete...I disagree).

    If you come back out to BIS or Y19, let me know. I'm always up for meeting other pilots in the area.
     
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  25. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oh and on a side note. BIS approach is always happy to provide an ASR, I've done it both on their and my request.
     
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  26. Ravioli

    Ravioli Final Approach

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    Yes... typo. Sorry.
     
  27. Dave Krall CFII

    Dave Krall CFII Final Approach

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    Well spoken write up and good follow up decision to obtain your IFR rating now.
     
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  28. jspilot

    jspilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks for sharing your story! I love it when people do this on this site-- it helps a lot.

    I think you did well. Better to be on the ground wanting to fly than be in the air wanting to be on the ground.

    Just a thought, a broken layer is totally differ et than an overcast layer. With a broken layer, although still not fun, usually if you have to, you can pick a hole and go through. If you know visibility under the clouds is 10 than you should be totally fine. Overcast means you would have to fly through the clouds and therefore is a no go.

    On a recent XC I had a similar experience where my home field was reporting broken 1700 with layers above it. I chose to stay high as possible till I got close and then duck underneath because I knew the territory around that airport well enough to know I'd be fine flying at 1,000 feet or so. I got away with it but flying that low was not fun and somewhat risky. Seems like you would have been in a similar situation and you took a real safe way out of the situation. Well done!
     
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  29. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Valley City (KBAC) has a winter microclimate. If you're driving on I-94 in the winter and Fargo and Jamestown have the same weather, you can always count on Valley City between them having something different. Maybe Lake Ashtabula up the valley from town dumps moisture into the air and it condenses through the rest of the valley to form ice and contribute to cloud formation, or maybe just being 50 feet lower than surrounding terrain does the job.
     
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  30. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    that i did at KBAC :d
     
  31. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    good to know. approach called me and asked if i would like to participate in ASR, I had some idea what it was, but wasn't sure. when asked for clarification they told me no gyro turns
     
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  32. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    will do. didn't get a chance to grab lunch at BIS... so next time will make sure to do that. there is a Italian-American bistro there, forget the name now but they serve amazing steak and desert.. close to downtown in the industrial area
     
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  33. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    yah in retrospect, I could see the ground and the holes, but the holes were becoming smaller and smaller. flying at 1200 AGL crossed my mind over I-94.... but its way out of my comfort zone and I know there are some tower around my route (little off course, but still) that shoots to 1206 AGL. this was my first time above a large layer of cloud.. and I just wimped out :D:D
     
  34. jspilot

    jspilot Cleared for Takeoff

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    I would not say you wimped out-- you made a choice you were comfortable with and you are here typing today so that is better than what the outcome could have been!

    Flying above the clouds VFR is a risk but with experience, you will get more familiar with how you can get above a layer( I will only do this if it is a broken layer or scattered layer and I know the visibility underneath the clouds is good), and still maintain several outs. I don't make it a habit flying above clouds, but where I fly the terrain is flat and there is no chance the clouds are obscuring a mountain. I always fly with near full tanks and I can get through holes in the clouds if need be. Again I don't reccomend doing this and I don't fly this way if I can avoid it, but with experience, you will be able to navigate the clouds a little bit better.
     
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  35. iamtheari

    iamtheari Cleared for Takeoff

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    Better to wimp "out" than to CFIT or spin "in."
     
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  36. KaiGywer

    KaiGywer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    There are lots of good restaurants in downtown these days. You might be talking about The Bistro? http://bistro1100.com
     
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  37. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    yupp, that one
     
  38. oregonboy109

    oregonboy109 Line Up and Wait

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    Great write up and good decision making. November weather is always unpredictable and fast changing around here. We've been socked in up here in GFK since around 7 last night and it doesn't look to be getting any better. So much for my CFI checkride this afternoon...
     
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  39. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    thanks for sharing. yeah with my ,little to no experience its probably not wise to venture out and just try it out. I have realized that going in circles in the practice area during PPL and doing a real XC are complete 2 different animals.
    yesterday same thing happened. planned a flight to KFAR-KABR-KFAR. there was a stationary front at ND-SD border that the only weather phenomena predicted. did my research, spoke to FSS etc and took off. at 6500 visibility was coming down, climbed to 8500 and could see the front ahead but just wasn't sure if I can out-climb it and visibility was dropping at a fast rate. turned around and came back to KFAR. at one point my body was telling me that I was rolling to the left, verified by instruments that I am not - that's when I decided not to continue the flight even though I could count at least 5-6 agricultural field in front of me (so at least 5 miles of visibility).
    parked at KFAR, spoke to a CFI who suggested a low altitude flight. tried that again, but even at 4500 or at 3000 the visibility was not as great as I would have hoped.... came back to the practice area and spent some time in that visibility to get used to it. slowly pushing my limits, but what we learn about weather in PPL and what we find out there are complete different things (at least from my perspective)
     
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  40. WannFly

    WannFly En-Route

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    yupp near 0 visibility here at KFAR too