Monday, May 3, 2010

Timing is Everything

This morning N631S and I got off to a later start than usual for the trip from KVKX up to KBDR in Connecticut. We had to hang out at the airport for an extra hour to let some fast moving heavy weather cross New Jersey and get clear of the northbound airway.

We were "wheels up" at 1240Z in light rain, hurried along by a healthy tailwind. Above left, the track courtesy of FlightAware.com. And below, a new feature from FlightAware, a profile showing altitude and ground speed as a function of flight time. I like this!

You can see that the blue line that indicates ground speed is up around 185 knots for a while during the early part of the flight - a 40 knot tailwind push! In fact, I actually saw 200 knots on the Garmin GNS-530W during the descent from 7,000 feet to 5,000 feet.

All was going smoothly, save the weather conditions for arrival at KBDR. A stubborn low cloud layer had settled in, with a broken ceiling at 200 feet. Here's the METAR that was being broadcast as we checked in with the final New York Approach sector:
KBDR 031419Z AUTO 20009KT 1 1/4SM BR BKN002 BKN018 18/18 A2969 RMK AO2 RAE09 PRESFR P0000.

The only available approach was the ILS to Runway 6 (with a 9 knot tailwind!) A Navy-operated KingAir had just gone missed and it looked like a diversion to Oxford (KOXC) was going to be necessary. But then the KingAir came back on the frequency to report that conditions were improved from the east and could he please have the VOR Rwy 24 approach? A new METAR indeed showed some improvement:
KBDR 031422Z AUTO 19009KT 5SM -RA BR SCT002 BKN018 18/18 A2968 RMK AO2 CIG 001 R29 SE PRESFR P0000.

Five miles and 200 scattered is a lot more "approachable" than a mile and a quarter with 200 broken. I quickly asked for the RNAV Rwy 24 approach and was vectored in sequence behind the KingAir. The approach was to minimums (the Minimum Descent Altitude is 450 feet) but it worked out, with N631S and I landing just as the briefly opened window slammed shut behind us. We were the last IFR arrival for 3-1/2 hours.

Sometimes, timing is everything.

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