Coping: Timing Our Exit

image(Tacoma, WA)  the sun comes up this morning for the last full day of Pacific Northwesting.  Tomorrow’s Peoplenomics report will be posted this evening – and will be a discussion of the charts, Greece, and so on.  But, in passing, I notice the world hasn’t ended…just as some of reprobate codger suggested would be the case.

One of our friends up here asked about the flight homed.

Because of expected weather in the Rockies. this is quite the planning game because there are three big “humps” and a lot of high country between here and low altitudes down along the bottom of the Midwest.

Wednesday morning, we will leave the hotel at 4:45.  Arrive at the airport at 5 AM.  Load the airplane, and while I top off fuel, Elaine will drop the rental car at the local transient aircraft emporium.

About 5:30 after a thorough check of all systems including inspect mirrors and fuel testing, we will wind ‘er up and take off.

We’ll “shoot the gap” between the north of the JBLM (McChord Field) airspace to the south and the floor of the SeaTac low approach to the north where permissible flight level drops to just 1,800 feet.  By staying a bit south, we can bump along at 3,000 and below.  More altitude means more options.

The first part of the morning, about 6 AM will be climbing up to 7,500 feet and over Snoqualmie Pass.  Sun will be in my eyes, so flight following and a new hat are ready.

Around 6:30. we will have passed over Ellensburg, WA and will be turned Northeast and coming up on Ephrata where Boeing does a lot of flight test certifications.  Shortly thererafter, Spokane International will pass by/.

The first tactical obstacle is Mullan Pass Idaho.  The top of the radio beacon there is at about 6,073 feet and we’ve been watching the weather there like a hawk for a week, or longer.

Current weathers forecast may be found here.

Since we should pass there about 8 AM, we would expect (as of last night’s read) 30% cloud cover and a layer of clouds above.  We can estimate about 3..5 degrees per thousand feet in this area.  So with the Dew Point at 52 and the air temp at 66, we will see a spread of 14-degrees.

Divide the 14 by 3.5 and we would expect the cloud bases to be about 4,000 feet.  But remember when flight planning that cloud heights are above terrain.

So when we get 6,073 of elevation and about 4,000 of clouds, we will be comfortably clear of clouds.  To be sure, Thursday does look a little better, but two problems come up if we delay until then.

First is that on Thursday, while the skies will be clear, there is also a drop in air pressure.  Airplanes like high pressure air.  Easier to fly in and makes the effective altitude density lower.  The drop isn’t much, but again, it’s something to think about.

We UPS’ed two big boxes of clothes back to the ranch which will reduce our payload by a lot (try 68 pounds!) and that directly translates into higher or faster, or both if needed.

By the time we fly into Missoula, we should be at 12,000 high clouds and nothing down low. 

Thursday morning, we will get up early again (the column may be a bit wonky, depending on how closely we can pull off the schedule.  Thursday forming was forecast to be clear and nearly idea except for the low barometric pressure.  Again, all subject to change and we have live weather/ADS-B in so we can work around thunderstorms if needed.

This gets us to the second Big Bump on the way home:  Going over the pass outside of Butte, Montana.  Again,. we will have timed our passing just right by leaving Wednesday morning.  The skies should be clear and we should sail past before  around 6 AM.

Shortly after that, say 6 AM to 6:30, we will whiz over Bozeman, MT.  I’ll be sure to dip a wing to Steve Quayle…but we didn’t plan to drop in on him this trip. 

Bozeman is 4,300 feet, and coming through around 9 AM, we should see a few clouds overhead up at 10,000 feet, or so.

‘ve noticed about mountain flying that various ranges seem to have “favorite” cloud layers.  We’ve flown the Poconos, and while the scud is somewhat lower, the mountain elevations aren’t as severe (lowering risk) but there’s no I-90 (the world’s longest emergency landing strip) either which raises risks some.

After that, we simple head up the pass, following i-90 and over Livingston.  The forecast was for building clouds in the afternoon, which is why we fly the first 6 hours of daylight only – when we can.  Air is smooth, winds haven’t built up and most important, the mountain cumulus haven’t begun to build for the afternoon showers common much of the time.

From here, it’s mostly all down hill to Texas.  We will likely stop Thursday morning around 8 AM in Billings.  The weather should be good for take-off after a “personal recycling stop” so we will press southward for about 3-hours toward Sheridan, Wyoming.

To recap, Seattle Wednesday morning, Missoula Thursday morning, Sheridan Friday morning.

We would be at the ragged edge of fuel going non-stop into Dodge City from there (not to mention inducing ki8dney failure) so Scotts Bluff, Nebraska will get an early morning visit, say around 8.

By 9 we should be back in the air and over the top of developing clouds to the south at Dodge City.,  Again, all subject to change, we will likely be in there around 5 hours, or so, after leaving Sheridan.  Depending on calls of nature, winds, and diversions for weather.

Each time we land, and while airborne where there is ADS-B weather, we look ahead at current conditions, we we don’t go unprepared.

Like my sailing days, the essence of good seamanship is an uneventful voyage.  And the two pursuits are similar in another way, too.  Just as you can’t swim ashore from mid-Pacific, it’s hard to step out and climb down from any bad/dumb situation you get yourself into.

Toss in a daily in-depth weather briefing before take-off and a enroute weather updates from Flight Watch, and the computer weather stations everywhere we land and weather is really is the major determinate on a long distance, cross-country flight.

It’s not our first rodeo, by any stretch, but just writing down this part of the process gives you a sense of how things work.

Then you jump on and they assist with the flight plan filing and the estimated enroute weather and times enroute.

I’ve shown you the rough draft of the Wednesday departure up top, there.  You can see why light planes are the way to go for hassle-free travel:  

The mapping services say 7:31 driving the route, but that’s with no accidents and now weather and no pee stops.  Good luck on that.  I’m guessing 8 1/2.

No speed traps in the sky, either…and cheaper than a new pick-up truck by a good bit.  You can buy airplanes all day long for less than a new Camry.  Its just most people never claim their right to pilot their own plane or captain their own boat.

There…ready to take that first flying lesson, yet?

A Couple of Health Notes

We note that there’s a new study out in JAMA that reports the effectiveness of breast screening mammograms is not what it was thought they’d  yield in the way of results.

Very disappointing, but stay tuned because more studied will come and in the meantime, prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

And this one is interesting, too:  Signs of ageing begin to appear by the mid-20’s says this report.,

Yes sir, experienced some of that-there myself.  I think it was called something else, though.

Moderation, possibly…

History With a Side of Irony

Sorry to read about the Palmetto Beach Cigar factory fire over the weekend.

But there’s just a touch of ironic to a tobacco outfit burning down, don’tcha think?

Write when you break-even



Coping: Timing Our Exit — 5 Comments

  1. I don’t know what your exact procedure is when ready in the plane to go but for some reason I feel you ought to run the engine a few minutes and then cut her off and recheck that fuel line happy trips

    • Being an ex heavy equipment maintenance mechanic I guess it’s just a habit

  2. Have a good flight. If you need to dodge the weather in the Kansas area Tdady and CastleBean are always an option for you.

  3. Looking at that plan George, you may want to bone up on VFR-on-top procedures. Might come in handy. Have a safe flight.

  4. You should have prevailing westerly winds heading east, We generaly make good time when we fly east coming west is generaly rougher and slower.. Enjoy it is the last freedom we have left and it is slowly being regulated out of existence