Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Diverted by Fog

When I got up yesterday morning and checked the weather for my flight from KVKX up to Connecticut, everything looked good - except for the fact that Bridgeport was reporting dense fog. The METAR at the time was:

KBDR 221052Z 05007KT 1/4SM FG VV001 07/07 A3003 RMK AO2 SLP168 T00720067

But fog usually dissipates. The TAF was predicting better weather from about 15Z onward and nearby Waterbury-Oxford (KOXC) was looking reasonable, so off I went.

The departure from Maryland and the flight up over New Jersey were quick and uneventful. But on arrival in the Bridgeport area, things were not at all improved:

KBDR 221352Z 07007KT 1/4SM FG VV001 08/08 A3004 RMK AO2 SLP173 T00830078

That's a quarter-mile visibility in fog, with a variable ceiling at 100 feet. Well, not likely to land there. I shot the ILS 6 approach for practice and went to the missed approach holding point to wait for a while.

It was nice to watch the WAAS-enabled Garmin GNS-530 driving the autopilot around the holding pattern for multiple laps. While it was so engaged I had a talk with Flight Watch. Bridgeport was fogged in, as were Oxford, Danbury, New Haven and White Plains. The nearest reasonable weather was at Stewart Field (KSWF) in New York and at Bradley International (KBDL) north of Hartford.

After 40 minutes in the hold I asked KBDR tower if they saw any hint of improvement and got a succinct "Negative." So I got back on with Approach and asked for a clearance to KBDL. They obliged with "Cleared present position to Bradley Airport via direct, climb and maintain 4,000 feet." And off I went.

Bradley had their ILS 6 on offer and asked me to keep my speed up (which I did). N631S and I broke out at about 900 feet, landed, and taxied to the TAC-Air FBO to wait some more. But it soon became clear that KBDR was not going to get better for a long time (and, in fact, did not lift to ILS minimums until after midnight). I rented a car and drove to Bridgeport...and tonight or tomorrow night I'll drive back up there to retrieve N631S.

As one of the other diverted pilots at Bradley said to me yesterday, "Well, that's aviation."

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