Don’t Tempt the Weather Gods

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Before I opened the curtains this morning, I answered a friend's email. He asked about today's trip. CAVOK, I said. The prairies are enjoying a heat wave.

That's tempting the weather gods – a real no-no. When I did my self briefing I saw that it was perhaps no sweat, but it was definitely not CAVOK.

What's CAVOK? It's the colloquial version of CAVU – Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited. A synonym in pilot speak is wide open.

Winnipeg was not wide open. On takeoff I was into cloud at 600 feet, briefly between layers, and then in solid cloud until 6000 feet. But then I was on top, cruising over the undercast.

IMG_0267The good news is that the prairies are indeed in a heat wave – temperature up to 30° C. on the ground and an amazing 14° C up here at 8000 feet. No worries about icing today. Before Langruth (VLR) the controller offers us direct Broadview (YDR). We settle in to cruise mode.

The first hour we remain over a solid undercast stretching in all directions, with the sky above a brilliant blue. But Regina is reporting high broken with good visibility underneath. Here is the transition, looming ahead:

IMG_0277Then we are there, at 30 miles from Broadview.

IMG_0280The high broken is still ahead of us . . .

IMG_0279. . . and we are passing the edge of the undercast.

The 16Z ATIS Golf gives 25,000 thin broken, visibility 12 miles. The wind has veered slightly to 340° at four knots. The approach is  the GPS Z to runway 31.

Perfect. I should be able to land and clear at the Kilo, only a couple of hundred yards from the Esso FBO, where I am to meet some people from the Regina Ledger. I ask the controller for a clearance direct to MUVAN, the Initial Waypoint for that approach. He clears us as requested.

IMG_0290The GPS distance and time estimates make for easy and precise descent calculations. I am at 8000, and a good altitude for MUVAN is 4000. At 500 feet per minute, that will take eight minutes. I wait for nine minutes from MUVAN and request descent. Here we are a couple of minutes later:

IMG_0291As we turn final I get a rush of nostalgia. This is a blast from the past – the long past. I remember this view from the DC-9. How long ago is that? Twenty years, at least. There is the city of Regina, ahead to the right. And Runway 31, straight ahead.

A Dash 8 lands ahead of us on 08, but there is no one behind on the approach to 31 and I can slow to the Bonanza's normal approach speed of 70 knots. I turn off at the Kilo without difficulty.

I taxi toward the Esso, just ahead. There are three men waving at me from the gate. I have to do a U-Turn when I see there is no separate ramp area for the Esso, just two vehicle gates and a walkway gate. But the edge of the ramp has tiedowns, clearly marked with yellow circles, so I can easily pivot into a space beside a Cessna.

IMG_0296Here we are tied down in Regina.IMG_0297