Last night the low moving into Northern Ontario, pushing into yesterday’s great high (30.45 inches), pushed me into setting my alarm. Sure enough, this morning the low is coming, and with it a 75-knot Low Level Jet, an almost direct crosswind for my route of flight.
At the airport (North Bay) at 0815 the sun has risen into a clear sky, and the airplane is covered with frost. It is facing south, so before I pack and pre-flight I pull it forward and turn it east. The frost on the red leading edges is already melting, so I brush that off with my gloves and hope the red will grab enough energy from the sun so the wings will heat up a bit and the frost will melt on the white as well.
I go back and forth between loading and frost removal. The white flaps and ailerons are the last to melt – I take off my gloves and use my warm (for a while) fingers to slide off the last of the frost.The ride up to Earlton at 8000 feet is perfect – smooth and CAVOK, and the OAT +3° C. Then the cloud approaches. By Timmins I am in IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions). The temperature holds at plus 2 or 3, although once I looked and saw plus 1 and was preparing to ask for a descent. But no ice, even in and out of the tops. Meanwhile that LLJ (Low Level Jet) is for real. I get used to going sideways; the track diamond is on course but the heading is waay west. Amazingly, there is almost no turbulence.
On descent I am out of cloud at 4000 feet, with wisps of scattered stuff below. The LLJ is still there, and still 75 knots! The wind on the ground is 190° at 15 gusting to 22 knots.
I set up the GPS 17 approach and decide to fly the whole U-Turn via ERBAD.The five-mile base leg from ERBAD to RUDVA takes forever. The LLJ is still blowing 60-70 knots and even clean my groundspeed is in the 40’s. I prepare my mind for the sideways final, and for the turbulence as 60 knots morphs into 15 gusting to 22. Sure enough, as I intercept the glideslope (LNAV + V) I have forty degrees of drift for a minute or so. Then the turbulence hits. But the four-light VASI (are those PAPI’s? I don’t have my references with me) and the mini rabbit strobes are comforting. The landing is a non-event, unlike the violent gusts my dear wife remembers so well from last winter in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
With a broken weld on my door strut, I park directly into the wind on the ramp. I finally figure out that there are no tie-downs (the way I think of them), but that giant loader has two big concrete tubs in its beak, waiting to put them where I park. Rock Robitaille, the kind and helpful Airport Manager (he has been for 35 years) has arranged it all after my phone call last week.
There is plenty of wind and rain coming.