Rich's Quest For Flight

My father was a pilot. He died doing what he loved to do. It has been a goal of my life to become a pilot. Now I have chance to do so. Follow me as I pursue my dream.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Best Available Information

We pilots are bound by Federal Aviation Regulations to base our flight decisions on all available information. With my long solo cross country scheduled for today, I started looking at the forecasts last night. And the forecasts weren't good. Not for Green Bay, not for Madison. A frontal boundary was scheduled to pass through my flight area during my flight window, with thunderstorms, moderate turbulence, and wind shear. Saturday was a windy day in the area, and turbulence was a problem, even though it was very pleasant on the ground. I resigned myself to a negative decision in the morning, based on available information.

That information did not change overnight. I didn't get a phone call from the airport this morning, so I made my way in and met Adam in the standby room. Ground winds were 180 degrees and breezy while winds at 3000' were 240 degrees and strong. A very sharp wind shear at just around pattern altitude. Plus, the TAFs were still predicting rain in Madison during my return with gusty winds. There were still enough negative variables to scrub the flight, and that was my call.

So as I write this, guess what happened? The squall line thunderstorms broke apart, with nary a shower remaining. The ground winds are now close to the low level winds aloft. Perhaps some turbulence still, but it's not a bad day out there. I had a plane of my own, I'd love to shoot some landings. But I made the decision on the best available information. Very frustrating. The plane is not available next weekend, so it will be two weeks before my next chance. Adam assured me that once we get the last cross country out of the way, that it's just a matter of a few more hours of instruction and some practice and we'll be looking at the checkride. Still, I can't help the nagging feeling that I'm stuck in this rut and I won't get it done before the first snow.


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