Vicki and I flew up to Ottawa today in the Lance. The plane was a bugger to get started, and at first we had a problem where the push to talk (PTT) on my yoke and that on the hand mike refused to work, so we cross threaded the headsets and I pushed the PTT on her yoke when I wanted to talk. A major pain. A few minutes later I noticed I still had the button pushed down to put comm1 on the overhead speakers. I turned that off and suddenly my PTT started working again. I’m not sure what the connection is, but it was good to get rid of the criss-crossed wires and the hassle of reaching over every time I had to talk.
The Lance climbs like a slow dog in hot weather, so I took off with the gear override on and two notches of flaps. That made a huge difference.
Rochester was very hazy, reporting 3 miles visibility, with few clouds at 500 feet and a scattered layer at 5000. I said to Vicki “it will get clear as soon as we’re above that scattered layer at 5000”. Actually by the time we got above the layer, it was more like 6000 feet, but it was clear, cool and very smooth up there. We levelled off at 9000 feet around the KONDO intersection. We could see a “wiffle-diff” (a rising plume of cloud punching through the cloud layer) just ahead of us as we turned direct to ART. I guessed it was the steam from the power plant at Oswego. I guess the air below the cloud was so unstable that the moisture from the power plant started rising and kept rising until it hit 9000 feet.
I was a little disconcerted when I was about to reach ART and they hadn’t ammended by clearance to specify the CYRIL.SIX arrival. Usually Wheeler Sack approach does that by then, because the FSS computers won’t take that when I file, but Ottawa insists on it. I called and queried, and he said that it was already on the strip, so he thought I’d already been given the clearance. Good thing I know this route.
There was a weird strip of clear air over the St. Lawrence River. I’ve often seen different weather on each side of the river, but this is the first time I’ve seen the same weather on both sides and different weather just in the narrow confines of the St. Lawrence valley.
After crossing the St. Lawrence, Montreal Center started us down. First we were in and out of the tops of cumulus clouds at 7,000 feet, but as we were getting vectored for the approach it was almost completely solid between 4,000 feet and 3,000 feet. In the infrequent breaks, I could see that at 3,000 feet was only a few hundred feet above the base of the clouds. So as soon as Ottawa Terminal cleared me for the NDB 25 approach, I descended (I still can’t get used to the way they don’t give you an altitude for the approach) down to 2,500 feet and said I’d take the visual.
After I was cleared to land, a Dash-8 reported ready to take off. She probably could have taken off before I got in, since I had my gear down and was slowed down to 90 knots by then, but the controller made her wait. I admit, I still get a feeling of power making 50 people wait for little old me, but I wonder if I should have offered to slow down more to allow them to take off.