|2008/05/23 To fly, or not to fly: crossing the Sierras to and from Reno-Fernley|
π 2008-05-23 08:59 by Merlin in Flying, Nflying
Flying to Reno-Fernley went fine. I had been watching the weather since there would be chances of thunderstorms there, and the weather was overall cloudy. That aid, the ceiling was forecast to be broken around 8000ft MSL (4000 AGL) there, and it only showed mild precipitation here and virtually no winds over the Sierras (although with a cloud cover).
I figured I'd give it a shot head over there and see how things were. Since it wasn't overcast but just broken, I figured I wouldn't get stuck above high ceilings and crossing wouldn't be that bad.
Turned out to be right, there were some extended stratus like clouds, nothing convective looking and I was able to cross Tahoe without problems between a couple of cloud layers (avoiding precipitation). While the temperatures were definitely freezing at the 14,500ft I climbed to for a nice smooth ride between cloud layers.
It was a good time to use the Samsung Q1U I had just bought, with Seattle Avionics Voyager , my new Electronic Flight Book solution. It definitely has potential, but I ran into connectivity bugs, software bugs, and I'm still learning to use it. Nonetheless, when I get everything ironned out, and after a few missing features get added, it should be a very nice replacement for my Garmin 496.
Once on the other side, I was ready to shoot an ILS into Reno to get under the cloud layer, and then fly under the ceiling to Fernley. Turns out the broken ceiling was still half broken and not overcast, so I was able to get down with no problems and finish on to Fernley and land by the race track.
While I had the de-icing just in case, I never had to use it.
After a so so weekend at the Fernley raceway (due to weather), I was supposed to fly home, but the current and forecast weather were just horrible: widespread mountain obscuration, thunderstorms, and icing as low as 7000ft. Oh, and flying on top was not really an option as the tops were forecast to be over 20,000ft. It's kind of an ever changing 3D maze for which you don't have the map, and where the maze might close in front of you and behind you.
I kept looking at my weather displays and forecast to see if I could make it. I think I found a plan that could have worked, but with possibly changing weather, but quite frankly "could have worked" wasn't good enough.
First, I was thinking about spending one more night in Fernley and just fly back the next day, but forecast for the following days weren't that good either, so I ended up cutting my losses and riding back with a fellow coworker who was also at the track and will pay the club to get the plane back when they can.
Just for fun, I played the "what if" game and pretended to be flying over Hwy 80, following the road under the clouds, and in some places it would have been really dicy as I would had to fly 100ft over the road, or fewer...
Needless to say that I'm happy to come back by car, although now I'm trying to get the plane back...
The other pictures ...