Winter IFR currency vs icing

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by tawood, Nov 14, 2018.

  1. iamtheari

    iamtheari Pattern Altitude

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    Same time as my post.
     
  2. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    This thread is somewhat old, but I was just wondering how Tim was coming on his winter IFR adventure in Michigan.

    Next Sunday it will be 6 years to the day since my first solo venture into IMC - in Michigan, no less. During the year and a half I lived in MI with an instrument rating, I had no trouble staying current by myself, even during winter months. I agree with those who say, stay out of below-freezing clouds under nearly all circumstances - the only exception being a very thin layer that I can SEE the thickness of. The one time I violated that rule (in New England), I picked up ice. And here in northern New England, I've pretty much sworn off of IFR during the winter months since if I really need it, the MIA around here is 5400 and that is nearly always below freezing. That wasn't the case in Michigan, even in winter, because the MIAs are generally much lower, especially around the terminal dromes like KPTK, KDET, KYIP, etc, and because there were occasional warm spells when ice wasn't a concern at the MIA and even a thousand or two feet above.

    I don't know what the weather has been like there this year, but I hope there have been warm(er) days when you've been able to get some actual in.
     
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  3. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Not so good, unfortunately. I last was flying IFR in October (logged 2 approaches). I've taken three separate days off work (one in November, two in December), that were predicted to be good instrument weather, but spent all three days just hanging around the airport, waiting for fog to lift. It seems that around here (Michigan thumb area), when the winter weather approaches ground temps of 45+ degrees (warm enough to keep the ice away up to 4000 feet or so), the airport fogs in pretty good...at least it has this year.

    The clock is ticking. I have until February 28 before I'm no longer legally current. We just hit a cold snap this week, so maybe next week...otherwise, my instrument-rated friend and I will go get current in the spring with the hood. I just really prefer actual time to hood time.
     
  4. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Hopefully it's not a trend! If I remember right you're based at D95, not too far from KFNT, where I did a lot of practice IFR, even in the winter (though most of those times were before the checkride, with a CFII). I think sooner or later you will get some decent IFR weather, if not this winter, then next. In the meantime, yeah all you can do to keep current is go up with a safety pilot. That's what I have to do now (and my deadline now is February too...), at least during winter. And yeah, I agree, actual is MUCH better practice than the hood. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. :cool:
     
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  5. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Yes D95. Each time its been foggy at D95, KFNT has been 900 overcast....Maybe the city heat helps with the fog. ?
     
  6. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Line Up and Wait

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    So, take off out of D95, and shoot the GPS (if able) and VOR-A approach to D95. If you can't make it, go missed and try FNT. Sounds like if they're holding 800+ ceilings, you'll do fine.

    If you end up landing at FNT, make parking arrangements with the local FBO, and take Uber home.

    The day or two later, go back and bring the plane home.
     
  7. PaulMKE

    PaulMKE Pre-takeoff checklist

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    This seems like a good time to recall the saying about bold pilots and old pilots ... :rolleyes:

    Seriously though, you might consider finding an AATD simulator in your area to stay current in winter. As of November 2018, you can now log AATD sim time toward your IR currency - and in any combination with aircraft time. Sure, it's not the same, but consider what's *better* about it: you can get more approaches in less time; you can simulate more realistic failure modes; you can pause and discuss what's happening; and you can set your environment to whatever you want - i.e. wind, cloud layers; and (most) any airport you want, like that trip you have planned coming up. And its usually cheaper than flight time.
     
  8. olasek

    olasek Pattern Altitude

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    BATD also works for currency and they are much more common in smaller flight schools.
     
  9. azure

    azure Final Approach

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    Yep, there were a couple of times that I left my plane at KPTK and retrieved it a couple of days later. This was before Uber (or before I knew about it anyway) and I begged a ride from someone at PAC (RIP), but there are ways to do it.

    If you insist on being 100% sure you can get back in at home then you are going to miss a lot of opportunities. Sometimes it's true you won't get back in, but sometimes conditions will improve between takeoff and your approach back in to home base.

    That said, the OP said the problem is fog, i.e. 0/0 conditions, and if that's the case I wouldn't take off either - if anything goes wrong in that scenario, you don't have many options.
     
  10. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Line Up and Wait

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    I don’t know why GA people feel like they need to push the limits and fly through ANY moisture near freezing.
    I like to equate flying in ice to driving on ice. Except when you crash you die.
    A standard GA airplane that a lot of us fly in is basically a FWD, no chains, no traction control.
    Have basic prop heat or something might be like having winter tires on.
    Non fiki is your AWD outback with summer tires
    Fiki is your AWD, winter tires, super traction control system.
    Can you drive your standard car over some ice and live to tell about it? Sure, but eventually that thing is going to slip.

    Hit something bad enough with your decked out AWD and you are going to go slipping too.
     
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  11. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Easy for a Californian to say.

    Some people park their plane for half the year. IMO, they are FAR more dangerous than those of us who continue to fly all year long, learn about icing, avoid it to the extent possible, and have well-planned outs if we do pick any up.

    And, FWIW, parking your plane for half the year still doesn't guarantee you won't get ice. My scariest icing encounter was in AUGUST... Because I was completely unprepared for it. I usually don't have to even think about ice until at least October, but Mother Nature doesn't care what the calendar says.
     
  12. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Line Up and Wait

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    Here in Northern California, there is a lot of ice. It likes to sit just above the MEA.
    I fly a couple commercial gigs and when somebody needs to go somewhere you either go vfr below it or don’t go. Trips to Reno, Portland, or Tahoe are common and those are cold, high, and Icy routes. In some cases you need to demand opposite direction approaches or some other kind of descent to avoid areas with higher MVAs and potential ice.
    Flying through potentially icing conditions in a not fiki equipped plane is just stupid. Avoid the clouds, stay alive. Nowhere is it 1500’ overcast and below freezing for 6 months out of the year. There will be at least clear days and or higher ceilings at some point during the winter, anywhere.

    Simple math. What altitudes will you be using. Will there be clouds? If yes, what temperature will it be when you enter the cloud. If it’s between freezing and -20, pick a different route or time to fly.
     
  13. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Ah, lucky you. Here, it likes to sit just above the ground. :(

    Sorry, I thought you were in SoCal. I can't keep track of all those California cities.

    I would bet that you have a lot fewer "dry" clouds than we have here, since you have an awfully large source of moisture nearby. There's a noticeable difference between where I am in Wisconsin and, say, western Michigan. Or Cleveland or Buffalo. The Great Lakes can be quite an ice machine too.

    But, that's just one of those things you have to learn so that you can fly here. You avoid being downwind of a Great Lake, especially close to it, because the clouds are wetter and can carry a lot more ice. I remember cruising along one night with a healthy buffer between me and the Lakes, and hearing an A320 going into Buffalo report severe icing on the radio.

    I would replace "potentially" with "likely". Damn near any cloud is "potentially" icing. Like I said, shocked the hell out of me to see it in August...

    But, if there's <50% chance of trace, or <25% chance of light, AND the layer is thin enough to climb/descend through in a minute or two, AND there are altitudes I can cruise in the clear, AND there are outs available... Well, that's a good day around here.

    6 months, no... But it's quite common for us to have fairly low overcasts for pretty much all of January and February. And ya know what? I still fly, because it's often so cold that there won't be any icing anyway. But a clear sunny day in February is a pretty rare sight around here.

    I've seen people who think that any winter cloud automatically equals icing. They show up to the airport in the spring, to an airplane that's sitting on its rims. They fill up the tires with air, throw their family in, and blast off on vacation. I am sure I'm safer than that guy. (And no, no three trips around the pattern to get passenger current first either.)
     
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  14. Rgbeard

    Rgbeard Line Up and Wait

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    'cuz Google mapz iz hard!
     
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  15. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    Here in the PNW we have a marvelous ice machine - the Cascades. Enter clouds in the winter with a non-FIKI airplane at your own risk.

    The two times I've picked up ice were in the 182. The first, with my CFI in the right seat, was the day before my private check ride. We entered a cloud and POOF! the plane was an icicle. We were around 12,000 MSL. Finally started melting the ice off when we got down below 9,000 or so. Not fun in any way. The second, with a CFII aboard, was during my instrument training. I couldn't see the ice (foggles on), and he wasn't concerned, but I hate that stuff. Must not have been too bad, the 182 just kept chugging along.

    I'll happily keep on not seeing ice on the airframe.
     
  16. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The 182 is one of those big fat wings that doesn't seem to be too affected by ice, at least not the amounts I've picked up in a 182. I wouldn't be too surprised if it motored along pretty much fine (losing some airspeed of course) until it abruptly stalled. :eek:
     
  17. flyingron

    flyingron Touchdown! Greaser!

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    As for the "currency" part listed in your subject line but absent for the thread. There's a magic term: simulated instrument conditions.
     
  18. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    Yeah, its looking like that's what I'm going to have to do...I just prefer actual.
     
  19. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    And that is precisely what I want to avoid, that sudden stall. The 182 isn't rated for FIKI, and I like to avoid that stuff.
     
  20. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Likewise... But I bet the 182 would carry a load of ice better than most GA airplanes. If I had to pick an unprotected airplane that I had to get through ice with, it'd be high on the list.

    Of course, that's about as likely as an emergency takeoff. ;)
     
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  21. TheGolfPilot

    TheGolfPilot Line Up and Wait

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    I had weather dense up on me in the California foothills this morning and MVA for about a 10 mile stretch, until clear of the foothills, was at 6000'. As soon as I knew I was about to be in Visible moisture at -2C I started to ask for lower. Ended up picking up traces of rim ice. Just a couple days ago I was on here ranting about how you shouldn't mess with it and that happens.
     
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  22. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's why, IMO, it is far better to be prepared for what WILL happen WHEN you get ice, and how you'll deal with it, than it is to say "I'm just not going to fly into a cloud that's below freezing."

    That's probably because my scariest ice encounter, even though it was also the least ice I've ever encountered, was in August and thus I wasn't expecting it and I was completely unprepared for it and had no outs.

    In the winter, I fly knowing that, no matter what the forecast and no matter what the plan, sooner or later I'm gonna be in some icing. It's always been trace or light and happens maybe once every year or two at most, but I'm ready for it, and I can execute my already-hatched escape plan immediately.
     
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  23. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy Pattern Altitude

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    I agree. Where I live there’s a Zulu airmet for probably 3 months. Doesn’t mean we don’t fly Have to know what to look for. And what to do. As well as when not to fly vs fly. Lately has been no fly :(
     
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  24. James_Dean

    James_Dean Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    A semi-related anecdote. I was departing KAPA(Denver Centernial)last week after stopping for some amazingly cheap fuel. Icing was forecast but not more than light/moderate with no SLD and so I was expecting and prepared for it. I had filed for FL280 going to KDVT(Phoenix Deer Valley). Went IMC around 15k which meant turning on the ice separator vanes on the engines which robs a chunk of power and temps were +14 ISA so performance was already behind the normal curve. I wasn’t picking up anything more than a tiny trace of ice and was climbing better than I had expected. Then things started to brighten up a bit as I neared the tops at FL210. Nice, right?!? Then I got PASTED with the quickest accumulation I’ve ever experienced. I picked up 1/4” in what seemed like seconds. First time in the Conquest I’ve had the windshield with a thick layer. Made sure the power was at max, clicked off the AP, and blew the boots. She was still climbing fine and controls were normal so we kept going up until we blasted into the most gorgeous blue sky at about FL220. It all sublimated off quickly and we enjoyed a peaceful cruise the rest of the way. Y’all be careful out there.

    https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N425XP/history/20190116/2100Z/KAPA/KDVT/tracklog
     
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  25. bbchien

    bbchien Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Have had that exact same experience. Which is why one needs BOTH the power to generate goo climb near the tops, AND equipment to remove ice.

    No pics to post from the work computer....
     
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  26. James_Dean

    James_Dean Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    BTW, the Jet-A+ at KAPA was $2.60/gallon all in. :)
     
  27. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    So I just saw that tomorrow, they are predicting IFR with above freezing temps up through 6000 feet, and I was all set to take the day off to go fly and stay current...then I noticed they are also predicting 40 knot wind sheer at 1500 feet and 25 knot gusts at ground level (90 degrees to my home drone runway no less)...oh well.
     
  28. Checkout_my_Six

    Checkout_my_Six Final Approach

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    So....this confirms that the heaviest icing can and often does occur at the "top" of the cloud....just before breaking out.
     
  29. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    I've been trying to finish up my IFR since December 1st and I've had to cancel 4 or 5 training flights due to icing. January weather in Iowa sucks.
     
  30. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    Got into DSM late last night. It was a fun taxi to the gate. DTW got completely hammered with freezing rain last night. They shut the airport down and it just reopened at 10am today.
     
  31. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    I think today is the second day in the last 15 or 20 that we've seen the sun. It's sooooooo depressing.
     
  32. jordane93

    jordane93 Final Approach

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    I haven’t been outside the hotel yet. I’m trying to hibernate!
     
  33. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    And then February sucks too, and you're really tired of it... In March, the VFR weather starts happening more, but the IFR weather sucks even worse than Jan/Feb because at least in J/F the clouds might be so cold that all the moisture is already frozen so it won't ice you up... In March the clouds are usually liquid again, and IME almost always producing ice. :(
     
  34. lancie00

    lancie00 Line Up and Wait

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    I really wish that was the case. I'd love to get duel in the soup but this year, all of the clouds so far are full of ice. I wonder if I can add boots to the arrow??? o_O
     
  35. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yeah, it seems like winter is later every year.

    Well, except we got a couple weeks worth of it in November this year for some reason.

    But, with the cold that came behind the snow, maybe it'll get "better".
     
  36. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    39 years ago my primary CFI explained this to me, but flying in a lot of various weather conditions I have never experiance windscreen frosting. Thanks for the photo.
     
  37. davidgfern

    davidgfern Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Same here.... did my IFR training in San Diego in winter, and picked up ice in clouds over LHS VOR at 10000 MSL on my long cross country. It was "dogshit" weather that day ...... on the final leg from KSMX to KMYF at night we entered the soup right after takeoff and I didn't see anything until passing OCN . Driving rain the whole way......a great IFR training flight!
     
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  38. davidgfern

    davidgfern Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I have, and I prefer the buttercream variety.
     
  39. tawood

    tawood Pattern Altitude

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    There is a very warm, warm front moving through this weekend...keeping my fingers crossed that it won't be too foggy with all the melting snow on the ground and/or windy.
     
  40. Clip4

    Clip4 En-Route

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    Well if it looked like chocolate frosting that would be an indication for flying through a **** storm.