|2008/07/04 Flight from Palo Alto to foggy Shelter Cove and back|
π 2008-07-04 23:50 by Merlin in Flying
In order to save up to 10 hours of driving to Shelter Cove for our Lost Coast Trail hike, I looked into flying there.
The flight to Shelter Cove was going to be interesting. After checking the aviation maps, I confirmed that they had no weather reporting, and neither did anyone closeby outside of Arcata/KACV many miles North .
When preparing the flight, I knew from a few phone calls that the area was very frequently fogged in during the summer, and that my odds of landing were not that good. Checking weather at KACV seemed to confirm that even if they were far enough to not have to share the same overcast.
Eventually, I chose Garberville (O16) as my alternate because I found out after some phone calls that it was usually always VFR when Shelter Cove was IFR. Satellite Pictures confirmed that the clouds pretty much stopped at the mountains right after Shelter Cove.
Given that, and a guess of when Shelter Cove might not be under a thick cloud layer (i.e. around 18:30), we headed out from Palo Alto. From the beginning it didn't look good because San Francisco and the entire coast here was covered with clouds too.
When we arrived, it did look carpetted, but when I came down to have a look, I realized it was actually fog at 200ft, so I checked out the airport and as I flew over it, I could get glimpses of it between the fog pockets. I pretended to fly a GPS approach (fully in VFR from my altitude) into it from each side a couple of times, but the first two times, I just didn't have a good enough picture of the runway.
The 3rd time, things opened up and I was able to clearly see the runway numbers and was able to land. Soon after things closed up again and I was not even able to see the other side of the runway. It was indeed a close one and I'm happy we didn't have to use our alternate.
Departure was IFR, but was trivial. I left around 16:30 and the cover was thick enough that I would never have been able to land.
Here are the rest of the pictures from Palo Alto to Shelter Cove 0Q5