Sunday, December 31, 2006

PS3 Run

Momma Nature did not cooperate and allow the IFR Pilot to complete the night solo requirement for his commercial license. Fog, haze, and mist all blew into Northeast Ohio last night and caused the flight to be scrubbed while driving to dinner.

But, stopping along the way at Circuit City to examine a new camera, the cell phone rang. The conversation went like this:

IFRP: "Hello?"

MS: "Dude, can you fly to Pontiac tomorrow?"

IFRP: "Sure, what's in Pontiac?"

MS: "A PlayStation 3 I just bought on eBay."

IFRP: "Umm, OK. But the sign right here at Circuit City says them have them in stock."

They did indeed have them in stock -- well, they had one in stock -- but MS didn't want it, convinced that he had a better deal waiting for him in Pontiac. So, the pimply-faced, angst-ridden teenage sales drone (if you've been to Circuit City lately, you know what I'm talking about) was told to return the last PS3 to inventory. Not five minutes later, MS calls back. His brother wants the PS3. Sorry, so sad, it just walked out the front door with another customer.

Anyway, we convene at the Home Base early this morning. The IFR Pilot takes the opportunity to experiment with his brand-new Olympus EVOLT 500 SLR camera (yes, I beat the sales drone up pretty good and got a great deal, so look for lots more pictures here soon!!!):

Sunrise at The Home Base #1

Sunrise at The Home Base #2

Our old faithful steed, N3978S, parked outside (gasp, the horror of it!)

After filling the tanks with 100LL priced at the bargain-basement price of $2.80 per gallon, we blasted off for Pontiac. Cleveland offered us direct LLEEO, but from The Home Base, that's a bit too much time overwater outside gliding distance, so we asked for and go SKY, LLEEO, radar vectors to Pontiac. The weather was VFR until just after crossing over Pelee Island. After that, we were on top at 6000.

Handed off to Detroit Approach, we were told to descend to 4000. On the way down, we noticed the top of what looked liked a TV antenna sticking through the tops. Yikes, that must be one tall tower (we estimated the tops at about 2500 MSL).

[Safely at home, and examining the sectional, it appears that our estimates were off. It appears we encountered one of the six towers near the bottom of this excerpt, all of which top out at about 1750 MSL.]

Vectored for the VOR approach to Runway 9R at PTK, which we had backed up with the GPS 9R as well, we plunged down into the dark cotton below us. We broke out at minimums, 1500, just as Pontiac Tower advised that Detroit had given a low alert warning. As we struggled to find the airport (it's an offset arrival by about 25 degrees), the IFR Pilot had a lapse of concentration. When the airport didn't appear soon, he initiated a missed. Probably a bit prematurely. MS was firmly saying, "continue, we have 2 miles to go." But, no futzing around here, let's get this right and my head's not in it.

So we went missed and were vectored back for another try. This time, the IFR Pilot kept his head in the game. We dove to the MDA and then drove for the airport, the IFR Pilot doing the flying and MS looking for the runway. Even though they had the lights up on high, it wasn't obvious. (Too bad the MALSR was OTS.)

Then suddenly, there it was, literally right below us. We cut the power and dove for the runway. It was a bit dicey, but we only had about 500 feet of altitude and the runway was about 6000 feet, so we can get down pronto. And we did.

And with that 1.5 hours, the IFR Pilot reaches 500.2 for his career total. That's also the first non-precision approach to minimums.

To prove that we had done it right, as we were walking to the FBO, we watched some kind of transport jet do just what we did - bust out of the clouds at 500 AGL, turn 25 degrees to the runway, and drop it like a rock. (Next time, I'll wait for the ILS to be returned to service....)

MS flew us home, which, other than the headwinds, was a complete non-event, culminating in a visual to The Home Base.

N72MH, Ready for Takeoff, Runway 9R at Pontiac

In the clag, on the way home.

Happy 2007 one and all!

No comments: