Winds And Changes Of Plans

I get up and start checking the weather. The other end of the flight isn’t looking good. Our only option for approaches requires about 600 foot ceilings and the clouds are currently at 300 feet. Things aren’t much better locally. Clouds at 400 feet.

Weather reports say that the worst of it will be moving through pretty soon. In any case, Beth is off to the airport to pick up Mom at the moment so we’re not quite ready to go.

The clouds jump up to 600. Then down to 400. Then 500. Then 200. But it’s clear that in 30-45 minutes the tail end of the front will be coming through and it will be clear below 12,000 for the rest of the day.

The drive to the airport is a short one, just head down to route 64 and point the car at a 270 heading. When I get there I find that, as usual, the airport authority has failed to grant me access through the gates I need. I haven’t flow the plane of the day in at least six months and it moved to another part of the airport. It wouldn’t be a hassle but it I’m sitting at the gate waiting 15 minutes for someone to come let us through and the airport management seems to go out of there way to continually demonstrate that our flying club isn’t one of their core considerations.

Eventually we get through and find the plane. Yes, it was a bit of a quest. I don’t exactly know which hanger we are in so we drive around a little while, but we track it down and figure out how to operate the doors.

Then Mom realizes that she’s left her headset back at the house. Off we go to protect her hearing.

We get back to the airport and the predictable happens, another 15 minute wait for someone to let us through a gate. They can’t just update my badge, because that’s a Monday through Friday kind of an activity.

Feeling very safe and secure we get through the gate and and take off. We filed IFR and zoom through some thin clouds into glass smooth air between layers. This is the stuff.

We are vectored west for a while before being able to head south toward clearer skies. An hour and 45 minutes later we are in Macomb.

As the evening wears on the forecast for the next day gets worse and worse. We had hoped to be able to stick around until noon and be able to attend the brunch the next morning, but that isn’t looking good. The predicted winds are going to gust up into the 40s in the afternoon, so we need to get going in the morning.

I get up and start checking the weather. Opposite of yesterday it still seems like the sooner we get going the better. Forecast is now up to 45 knot gusts in the afternoon, the long we wait the greater the probability of turbulence so off we go.

We take off westbound on runway 27 and turn back to a northeasterly heading toward Chicago. We climb slowly to 3,500 feet — clearly the strong climbs of winter are already behind us — and level off. We are flying this leg VFR since conditions were completely clear on both ends. That let’s us go direct between the airports and really exploit that strong tailwind, blowing right down the magenta line.

As the plane settles into level flight the airspeed and groundspeed both increase quickly. Once established on course our groundspeed finally averages a bit over 160 knots on 108 knots airspeed. Airport to airport time: 58 minutes, nearly twice as fast as the trip down.

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