Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Damn those weather men

Quite a frustrating weekend. I booked a C172 for both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Saturday was booked for 16:00 and Sunday was booked for 12:00, on the proviso that if Saturday was a wash-out then we'd go up on Sunday. Who was coming with me? My best friend Sally, her boyfriend Ricky and my friend Jana from work. The plan?? To go for a quick sightseeing flight over Amsterdam.

I checked the weather during the week and again on Friday. According to the TAF's and satellite images, there was a large low about to move in from the West which would clear up and leave a ridge of high pressure (and consequently blue skies) all day Sunday. Which was just as well, because Sally asked if we could go on Sunday instead. "Not a problem", I told her "it's supposed to be pissing down on Saturday".

But how wrong did the forecasters get it. I awoke on Saturday to lovely high Cirrus Stratus and as the morning went on the weather stayed mild, although it did get grey as the day passed. I emailed Polder to confirm the TAF and they said it was supposed to be crappy by the time I was to go up, so they were OK to let me scrap the flight. I rang Matt to talk flying etc and we were joking about how when we do scrub a flight, how we want the weather to prove us right. And sure enough it started to turn bad, but the "cats and dogs" never did appear, just poor visibility.

I went to a friends party and watched my beer intake. I stuck to 4 bottles of beer, made sure Jana knew she was to be at the train station by 10:30 and was home, tucked up in bed by midnight....and who said flying is glamorous :-)

Sunday began with Sally sending me an sms about the weather. She was worried about the fog in Lelystad. Her parents live there and she could see how grey outside it was. I checked the
weather and the forecasters were predicting it to burn off by lunch-time. So off I went.

But it didn't start out all roses. Jana pissed me off by doing a typical "Jana". "Oh my alarm clock didn't go off sweetie....can you tell me what trains I can get sweetie....Oh I'll be an hour late sweetie
". I just KNEW it...I knew she'd miss the train. In the end she ended up not making it....which if I was clever, I could have put money on, AND won. I got to the station, met Sally and her family and we drove to the airport. But there was no sign of the weather changing. We went for a coffee and watched the weather from the cafe. At last......a glimmer of sunshine. But it was already 13:20. I had the plane (PH-PJL...or "Me Julie") until 14:00. But I pre-flighted her, posed for some pics (coming soon) and strapped Sally and Ricky in. Fired up the engine, radio check and pre flight checks etc and we taxied to the run-up area.

Sal was babbling away while I was trying to do the pre-flight checks and eventually we taxied onto the runway. And very soon afterwards we were skybound. Sal let out a "Whoooo" as we rotated and climbed out and then I headed out for the city of Lelystad. But the weather was still iffy up above. Clouds were scattered at around 500ft so I had to be careful to remain clear of clouds. As I continued, the weather was beginning to improve. I dialled in the Lelystad NDB and made a route back towards the airfield. I aimed for VRP Sierra and called overhead, joined downwind and did the pre-landing checks. Again Sal was babbling in my ear and I had to concentrate with a stiff crosswind. I overshot a bit turning final, and had to slip to loose height, but recovered and brought "Me Julie" in for a landing. But sadly I flared a little too high and hit the deck a little hard. But there was no bounce and it was a solid landing. We taxied back, shut down and headed back to the club to do the paperwork. I mentioned to Ruben about the hard landing and he smiled and simply said "You can't get them all the time".

Time logged....30 mins, but I wish it could have been more.

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