It was a very blustery day today. As I was sitting in the airplane getting it ready for departure, the wind gusts where shaking it around quite a bit. The tower was reporting winds at 15 to 24 knots, and the forecast for Rochester was even higher winds, 25 to 35 knot gusts. Good thing I was in the Lance which, being heavier and faster than the other planes, can handle those gusts better.
Last time I was in Oshawa, I was giving Liane a sight seeing ride when I heard somebody request an IFR clearance to Rochester and given “YYZ V31 ROC”, so that time that’s what I filed and what I was cleared for. Of course, no flight plan survives contact with Toronto ATC, so that isn’t what I ended up flying.
This time, I filed the same “YYZ V31 ROC”, but instead I was given “A21 V224(?) AIRCO V31 ROC”. Aha, I thought, a reroute that keeps me more out of Toronto’s airspace, maybe they’ll actually let me fly the cleared route this time. So after reprogramming my GPS, I was ready to go.
It was really bumpy on the climb out to 2,500 feet. The clouds stated at about 2,600 feet and it wasn’t so bumpy in the clouds, but I was still getting updrafts and downdrafts. What didn’t help is that I had to spend all this time in the clouds arguing^Wnegotiating with Toronto ATC over my route. They asked me to go direct to Rochester, and I said I didn’t want to be that far off shore. So they said they’d have to keep me at 3,000 feet 10 miles off shore. I said that was totally unacceptable, and they said then I’d have to go north of Pearson and then down the other side. Faced with the prospect of doubling the distance home, I said “how about I go direct to Buffalo at 8,000 feet”. I hadn’t realized that I’d gone far enoug that I was now a little to the north west of Buffalo, so they offered me 7,000 feet which fits in the “hemispheric rule” and I accepted. Not a great routing, but I realized I probably wasn’t going to get a better one. They cleared me direct to Buffalo and told me to let them know when I could accept direct to Rochester.
I was squared away on about a 170 heading towards Buffalo and reprogramming the GPS when I broke out over a solid cloud layer at about 4,000 feet. It was a few degrees over freezing still, and I hadn’t picked up any ice. As I continued up, I went into a few small clouds, still not picking up ice. I was making pretty good time over the ground – I think I had about a 50 knot tail wind on that segment.
Once the GPS was showing me getting close to the shore again, I accepted a direct clearance to Rochester, and lost a bit of tail wind. And then they started me down. First down to 5,000 feet, which put me in solid clouds. Ok, I thought, as long as there’s no ice, this will be good practice. But they quickly had me down to 4,000, which was getting a bit bumpy, and then down to 2,500. As I was passing 3,000, they asked me if I had the airport in sight, because otherwise they’d have to send me through the localizer and out a bit to re-intercept it. They just turned me to 060, which is away from the airport, and as I was turning I broke out of the clouds at 2,600. I told them, and they offered me the visual to 25, which I took.
Trying to do a base leg for 25, it was turning into quite a roller coaster. I think the winds were 330@30, and of course runway 28 was closed. I turned on final, and had to hold about 40 degrees of crab. Up and down drafts where making it impossible to stay on the good side of the VASI, and my airspeed control was in the toilet. Over the numbers I tried to kick out the crab, but didn’t have enough rudder authority to get rid of all of it. Not a pretty landing, but not hard either.
The huge tail wind got me there a good ten minutes before the customs guy, which suited me. Lots of time to get my paperwork in order. Aas well as a completed CF-178 form, I had my passport, green card, and aircraft registration all ready. So of course the customs guy was the one who recognizes me, and he just asked for the CF-178 and said “see you next time” and left.
In conclusion, all I can say is what a difference a bit of practice makes. I still had a few altitude and heading excursions in IMC when I tried to multi-task, but much less so than on Friday. And I remembered to turn on the auto-pilot before I needed to look away from the panel for a second rather than after I was 30 degrees off course.