The Dark and Stormy Day
Once again, it was time to fly for currency. And in the middle of winter, so finding
a day to do it is usually fun. I reserved a plane for both Saturday and Sunday this
weekend, hoping one day or the other would work out.
Saturday didn't. It was raining overnight, and wet when I got up. So I cancelled the
reservation and went back to bed. Sunday was better. It wasn't really dark and stormy.
At least it wasn't wet. There were some dark clouds, but they looked to be up high. I
gathered up my son and we headed out to Rancho Murieta.
On the way I called for a weather briefing and was told the clouds were at 1600 feet,
and would be clearing later in the day. We got out to Rancho and the clouds pretty
much ended a few miles past the airport, and there was blue sky. So I preflighted the
plane and we sat around a while waiting for the sky to clear up.
At one point, we wandered over to the other side of the runway where a burned out
tree had something written on it. It said "USA" and "smud 40" and had a big arrow.
Whoopie. That was worth walking across a muddy field to read. Oh, well. We walked
back (around the mud, mostly) and checked out a couple of the other planes. I'm about
ready to get trained in the 182s (bigger engine, more room). Maybe this summer.
It was clearing, and the sun was poking through here and there, so we climbed in the
plane. There was a couple of guys climbing in the plane next to us, too. I tried to
start the plane, but it didn't start. Then I remembered a note in this month's club
newsletter about how to start this plane - the switch is a little flakey - so did that.
I got it started (after about three tries, but whatever) but the other plane had already
pulled out to go to get gas. Nuts. That meant I would have to wait for them. :-)
So they got gas, and I pulled up afterwards to do the same. It went pretty uneventfully,
and we got back in to take off. Thankfully the plane started right away, and we got to it.
I made a pretty good landing, and on the second trip around, my son told me he saw sharks
in the river east of the airfield. Too bad I couldn't look, but that's the base leg and
we're too close to the ground for me to be looking for river sharks. I made two more pretty
good landings and we put the plane up.
Inside the office, I put the keys and book up, and one of the other guys in there asked
me about the clouds. I told him they were up above 1000 feet, as that's the pattern altitude,
but wasn't sure how high. He said he'd called for weather about an hour earlier and was
told they were 1200, so the weather was coming back in. Then he said he'd probably just
stick to pattern work, as well. So I'm glad we got the landings in when we did. If we'd
waited much longer we may not have been able to go at all.
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