July 21, 2014 at 1:28 am #85260
This weekend was another dog transport from Houston to New Hampshire, staring and ending in Ohio. The weather itself was benign as far as storms or other activity you’d expect for this time of year, we didn’t have to deviate once around any precip. What was interesting was the low ceilings that existed beneath us for over half of the flight. Listening in to METARs along the way, it was typically around 400ish ceilings. Because there was such widespread low IFR, this made for some interesting planning, mostly in terms of alternates.
On the first half, the ceilings were lower than forecast at our cheap fuel stop (KLLQ). Approaching the fuel stop, the AWOS was reporting ceilings of 500 ft, with ceilings variable between 400 and 900. Mins were 400. So, we were fully prepared for the potential of going missed. With over 5 hours of fuel and only being under 3.5 hours into the trip, there was plenty of fuel remaining. Plus, winds had been better than forecast (which never happens to me), so we were actually a bit better on time than planned.
Sure enough, at the MAP there was no runway, although the ground was visible. Missed, and then decided to keep on heading towards our destination (weather good VFR and no approach forecast) to evaluate. Technically, the plane can make the trip non-stop in a no-wind condition, I just typically don’t do it because I prefer extra options. Lots of other options en route for fuel.
After about another 30 minutes, the had turned into a worse-than-forecast headwind. Diverted to SHV for fuel, where the ceilings were 1000, making for an easy ILS and then a short trip to CXO, where it was VFR.
Saturday departure showed low ceilings around 200-400 for the entire first leg of the flight (just under 700 nm), just breaking near our fuel stop. This would be around 3:45 plus an approach. However, our fuel stop (DVK) is under 30 miles from LEX, with an ILS and typically better weather that the TAFs said would be well within a legal alternate. The plan was to evaluate fuel and weather as we approached DVK. If it looked probable to get in with sufficient fuel, we’d attempt it. If it looked impossible and/or fuel was low, go straight to LEX. DVK was reporting 600 with mins of 300 on the approach, and we broke out around 700 or so. I would have added another stop in the middle if it looked like the weather was going to continue to be low at DVK, but it didn’t make much sense to attempt another landing at an airport along that first leg of the flight that was going to have lower clouds and be less likely to get into.
The second leg had higher ceilings below us on the route, but high cloud tops which had us in the soup for most of the run, even at 11,000 ft. Well above freezing (about ISA+20C day), though, so no concerns, just a bunch of actual. Visual approach at the destination.
Then flying back home was another 2 hours or so of actual out of the 3.5 hour leg, with a visual departure and then visual approach back home.
Lots of actual IMC for the trip, over 6 hours of it in 2 days. Good thing I like actual. 🙂July 21, 2014 at 6:03 am #106436
Nice trip report! I grew up in Danville, KY (KDVK)! Hope they treated you well!
Jeff (not Mike)July 21, 2014 at 11:39 am #106437
Jeff, DVK is a frequent fuel stop. Very nice facilities and friendly folks. Oh, and cheap fuel! 🙂July 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm #106443
Cool report! Love when the missions work out!
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