Thursday, April 15, 2010

Clearance Roulette

Because I don't usually fly from Manassas (as I needed to on Tuesday because of the Security Theater surrounding the Nuclear Security Summit), I was without a clue as to the best route to file to KBDR. As you might expect, FltPlan.com had suggestions.

One route that was said to have been issued by ATC recently was ARSNL2.WOOLY MXE V419 CMK Direct. (From KHEF you always get the Arsenal 2 Departure.) This was a nice looking route - direct and efficient. So that's what I filed.

And early Tuesday morning when I checked, the system was saying that I ought to expect the filed route. How very nice. Seemed too good to be true. (Danger, Will Robinson!!)

So I trek out to KHEF, load and pre-flight N631S, dig out the hand-held radio and give Clearance Delivery a call. And the nice lady says, "Skylane 631 Sierra, stand by. I've got your clearance right here, but they sent this weird routing and it won't work at all. We've got to get you something else." (Groan...)

About five minutes later she calls me back with this: ARSNL2.WOOLY EMI LRP V39 ETX V162 HUO Direct. In case you're wondering, the Huguenot VOR (HUO) is about 60 nm northeast of Allentown, near Port Jervis, NY. This clearance is just about 100 nm longer than the one I had been planning on, incorporating a huge loop to the north.

I hope that someday, someone will explain to me why a route makes sense on certain days but not on other days; why a route will be fine in one direction but not in the reverse direction. (I actually get why a route can be good at 8,000 feet but not at 6,000. I deal with that one often when crossing over the KEWR arrivals as I'm headed west from KBDR to Sparta (SAX).)

It may be that my filed altitude of 5,000 feet was part of the reason that my original routing wasn't usable. But there was ice above, so higher wasn't possible. And of course, I knew that the "...HUO Direct" part wasn't going to hold up. And in due course I got the expected re-route: After HUO, IGN LOVES DENNA Direct. That only added another 15 nm.

"Credit Where It's Due" Department: Once embarked on this odyssey, the en route controllers gave me a couple of short cuts and helped greatly in keeping me out of icing conditions (which wouldn't have been an issue on my filed route...grrr!)

I guess that's IFR flying!

About Tomorrow...

Given that I'm looking at this by 00Z tomorrow evening:
It's nice to see this:

It will probably be a damp departure from KBDR and a lot of the trip will be in the schmoo, but conditions should be improved at destination and the freezing level will be comfortably above N631S and me. Old Man Winter weakens his grip at last.

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