Not a great day, but a good day.
Les Kearney is in Rochester working, so I thought I’d take him flying. He’s from Edmonton, but we know each other from the Piper mailing list. We met briefly for the first time at Oshkosh last summer, and a few days ago we went out for dinner.
We originally arranged to fly on Saturday at 10 am, and at first I could only book the club’s Lance. I woke up on Saturday, and found that the club’s Dakota was available. The Dakota had been recently painted, and I jumped at the chance to book it. It’s also a bit cheaper to fly than the Lance, so that’s a bonus. But unfortunately the weather report didn’t look good. The Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) for Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse all showed low ceilings (below 4,000 feet) and high winds (more than 15 knots), and conditions continuing to 6pm. And the current condition reports (METAR) showed things were even worse than forecast. Not very condusive to sight seeing. The TAFs showed conditions from 0400Z to be clear skies and light winds, continuing to the end of the forecast period, which should have been noon on Sunday. So we rescheduled for Sunday. Again I scheduled the Dakota, but I got a phone call from Dave Crispin to tell me that the Dakota was actually at Batavia being fixed, so I switched my booking back to the Lance. Oh well, this would be my first flight in the Lance since checking out in it, and I was a little nervous about flying it without an instructor on board.
Unfortunately a few hours later, around lunch time, the sky cleared. The wind seemed to still be a bit high, and I didn’t dare check the weather at Buffalo to see if it had cleared there too – if it had it would have been too painful. I evidently wasn’t the only one fooled by the weather guessers – everybody who had a club Archer booked cancelled as well.
I woke up on Sunday and the forecasts were better than they’d been on Saturday, but nowhere near as good as I was expecting. Instead of clear skies, they were forecasting 5,000 foot ceilings and occasional light rain. Instead of light and variable winds, they were up to 8 knots and forecast to get higher. Oh well, at least ceilings over 5,000 would allow us to get high enough to be safe from the cell phone towers and still be able to see the ground.
Les and I met at the airport. Les brought his camera and has already uploaded his pictures. The wind was brisk and damn cold. We preflighted and departed in record time – got off ground at 10:40. Went down to Letchworth State Park to look at the gorge. It was gorgeous. (Sorry.) We were getting a bit of rain, but the visibility was still good so I didn’t worry about it. After we’d circled around the railway trestle and the falls in the gorge, we headed over to the wind mill farm. Les took some pictures there, but he didn’t upload them to the gallery so they must not have turned out that well.
My next idea was to head over to Buffalo, get lunch at the Flying Tigers Restaurant there, and then have a look at Niagara Falls. Unfortunately there was a lot of rain between us and there. So I reluctantly headed back to Rochester. Along the way we hit some really bad turbulence (I hit my head on the ceiling of the plane) which went away when I climbed a few hundred feet, and then a few miles of bad rain with very reduced visibility – down near 3 to 5 miles. I was on the verge of calling to ask for a instrument clearance when we broke out to a good 15 mile visibility.
Descending to land, it got bumpy and gusty again, which is why my landing sucked. And of course Les had to take a movie of it and put it on the gallery.
Hey, at least I remembered to put the gear down.