Saturday, December 31, 2005


"78S, turn left, 200, track the localizer."

JP and the IFR Pilot were smack dab in the clag. We took off from the home base, expecting to fly a couple of approaches and maybe get some actual. Did we ever!

Shortly after departing the home base, we called CAK Approach with our requests (ILS 19 at CAK, ILS 24 at BKL, VOR at 1G1). Before we knew it, we were MVFR and patiently awaiting our squawk code and an IFR clearance. Conditions had rapidly dropped at CAK, and the climb from 2500 to 3000 put us deep in the clouds. The IFR Pilot was doing the flying and JP was keeping an eye on things. This, of course, was the first time that the IFR Pilot had been in actual conditions since July's final leg home from Alaska. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Approach advised that ILS 23 was active and inquired if we specifically wanted ILS 19. We advised that we'd take the ILS 23.

As we flew outbound past EGGII and awaited our turn inbound to intercept the localizer, the ice started to accumulate. At first, it was just a very, very light rime. But after Approach instructed us to climb and maintain 3200, it started to accumulate a bit more quickly. At that point, the IFR Pilot advised approach that we'd be canceling the rest of the requested approaches and landing at CAK.

Six miles from EGGII, we received the rather strange instruction of "turn left, 200, track the localizer." The IFR Pilot wasn't 100% sure what the controller meant by this. It clearly wasn't a clearance for the procedure itself. I interpreted it as an instruction to get established on the final approach course (234 degrees), but not a clearance to execute the procedure.

That's when things started getting a bit hairy. The IFR Pilot blew through the localizer and had to make some S turns to get back on it. He was pretty quiet, but I think JP was just a tad bit nervous watching the S turns, which caused some slight altitude deviations. Never more than 100 feet, but hey, in the wrong place at the wrong time, 100 feet could be deadly.

Shortly, we were cleared for the approach and turned over to the tower controller, who cleared us for the option. At that point, there was quite a bit of rime on the wing and the windscreen wasn't looking so clear either. The IFR Pilot advised we'd be making a full stop.

We broke out at about 2500 and a bit left of the runway. Not knowing exactly how much ice we had picked up, the IFR Pilot elected to keep the speed up and make a no flap landing. After all, Runway 23 is 7597' long, so there's plenty of room to slow it down. A left turn and back taxi on the intersecting runway, then a right turn on Taxiway Charley and we were off to McKinley Aviation for a manual deicing operation (i.e., poke the ice off and dry with paper towels purloined from the rest room. Hey, they charged us $10 for sitting on the ramp, so at least we got something for our money...).

JP did the flight home. Instead of stepping up to the plate and filing for an approach to the airport next to home base, he just flew it VFR at 2500. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

A half hour in the clag for the IFR Pilot, with icing. Talk about back in the saddle.

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