Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Winter of Our Discontent

I suppose you've about concluded that I've given up on flying. 'Tisn't so, I hasten to assure you. It's just that there's been a little snow recently in the DC area (or, to lift a phrase from Jim Fallows, "Siberia-on-the-Potomac").

After a nice break for the year-end holidays, N631S and I flew from KVKX up to KBDR on a severe-clear January 4th. The following two weekends brought AmTrak weather. I got in a local flight with a friend on January 21st and then on the 29th, again in VMC, flew uneventfully back to DC and put N631S in the hangar. Where it has remained, safely out of the weather, ever since.

According to NWS climatological records, from February 5th to the 10th, KDCA recorded 28.6 inches of snow. As of today (the 23rd) the season total stands at 56 inches. "Normal" at KDCA is 13 inches to this point. (KIAD has had 73.2 inches and KBWI has had 80 inches.)

This has created a bit of a problem at the airport; I've yet to be able to get the airplane out of the hangar. It's fair to say that I'm a bit frustrated.

However, things are looking up. The last week or so has brought slightly warmer temperatures, higher sun angles, and significant melting. I am very optimistic about getting N631S sprung loose this coming weekend. And, the weather map for Monday doesn't look too bad:

So the plan is to head over to KVKX on Saturday armed with shovels and SnowMelt, to get the hangar doors cleared and open - and to assess the depth of mud in the turf area over which I'll need to taxi.

Then, we shall hope for a nice, flyable morning next Monday.


Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

Isn't "snowmelt" basically salt? That's not terribly good for aluminum.

Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Miss Fit:

You make a good point. The flavor I have appears to use CaCl rather than NaCl, which is reputed to be better. And if I use it at all it will be a small amount to free up the frozen door. However, perhaps I should plan a subsequent fresh water flush - but then, maybe the rain in the forecast will take care of that.



Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

Beyond that, isn't it pretty much a royal pain in the ass to fly in and out of one of the DC3 fields.

Frank Van Haste said...

Dear Miss Fit:

Actually, it isn't bad at all. You need to devote most of a day to jumping through the hoops needed to get vetted for the approved pilots list. Then you get a PIN and a special number at the Leesburg FSS and you file your IFR flight plans as normal. User transparent.

If you're VFR, you can't just go zooming off, you have to call Leesburg for a squawk and then get recognized by Potomac Approach and clear the FRZ (Flight Restricted Zone) promptly -- after which you are just a VFR flight, but you can stay with them for Flight Following if you like.

There's an inverse procedure for the VFR's to ingress. I'm nearly always IFR so I don't see the gears turning very much.

The hassles are minor, and the compensation is a neat little airport about 10 miles from my home. Of course, the snow is a bit of an issue this year.

The DC3 have a sane and sensible security plan that actually does some good - in contrast to the security theater that applies to the larger ADIZ.

Warmest regards,