Would really like to see the ground......

troopernflight

Well-Known Member
Had my first experience with losing site of the ground yesterday, and it was not a good feeling. It all started when my wife and I decided to take a cross country to visit some friends on the other side of the state. We waited for about 2 hours for the mins to come up at our destination, and finally departed around 11am. Once about 1/2 way there the clouds were becoming more numerous. If they were stratus clouds below me, I might not have been so nervous. But it was a hot and muggy day and we all know what kind of clouds that produces. I was actually enjoying the flight, and climbed to 9,000 to get over a build up, while circumnavigating some huge build ups next to me. My wife snapped a picture and was blissfully ignorant that I was starting to get a little uneasy. I noticed that the bigger build ups were actually growing right before our eyes. By the time we got on the other side I noticed that I could not see the ground and that I was flying into a cavern of build ups. I was pretty close to declaring an emergency because there was no way I was going to out climb these things in a DA-20, when like a gift from heaven I spotted a hole. I did the classic diving turns and descending from 9,000 to 1,500 at about a 4k fpm rate of descent. (I think my wife got nervous at this point). I ended up flying to my destination under the ceiling, which was about 1,500 at that point. It was a good learning experience, and I'm glad we made it out ok. I learned that when you are waiting in the morning for the weather at your destination to improve, don't leave immediately when you get 1,000 scattered and 3 miles. Next time I will wait a little longer!
 

MikeFavinger

Hubschrauber Flieger
Good learning experience. This will probably be a big "duh," but maybe it's time to get that instrument ticket? ;)
 

jynxyjoe

The Kickin' Chicken!
Ehh, you can always backtrack and find a hole.

Of course I'm saying this as a guy who files IFR everywhere where I'm back in GA-land.
 

meritflyer

Well-Known Member
Good lesson learned, eh?

It's the classic story of continued VFR into IMC (or thunderstorm build up). With no options, VFR pilots commonly scud run below the deck. I gave this lesson to a private pilot student of mine recently on a flight from Phoenix to Sedona. We departed VFR and ultimately got above the deck and were unable to get into Sedona. I ultimately left it up to him to figure it out. The reality is, you need to think and not panic. Turn around, divert, climb, descend, left, right, and so on. As I tell my students, there's always one more thing you can do.

Get goin' on that instrument ticket!
 

TurdBird

Well-Known Member
As Ian said, use it as a learning experience. Hate to say it but I'm glad it happened to you. Now you know what to expect for next time.
 

troopernflight

Well-Known Member
Good learning experience. This will probably be a big "duh," but maybe it's time to get that instrument ticket? ;)
Yes sir, I'm working on that as we speak. Some of those clouds I probably would have even asked for a deviation when on an IFR plan. They are pretty to look at, but nasty to fly into. Or as some of you probably would term, "the fun part of flying"!:)
 
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