KBDR 050209Z 0502/0524 VRB04KT 1 1/2SM BR SCT030 BKN250 TEMPO 0502/0505 3SM BR FM050500 20005KT 2SM BR BKN025 FM050800 VRB03KT 2SM BR SCT005 OVC010 FM051400 22005KT P6SM SCT010 OVC040 FM051600 22007KT P6SM SCT040 OVC150 FM051900 22008KT P6SM OVC040=The plan was to depart soon after 7:00 AM (12Z) for the roughly 2 hour trip. For a 14Z arrival I could expect good visibility, scattered clouds at 1,000 feet and an overcast at 4,000. And conditions were forecast to continue improving. I turned in feeling good about the flight.
My first indication that all might not be well came when, on arising at oh-dark-30 (actually 5:00 AM), I checked the METAR at KBDR:
METAR KBDR 050952Z 00000KT 1/4SM FG VV002 07/05 A3036 RMK AO2 SLP279 T00670050=This was not good. The fog, without being in the forecast, had come to KBDR "on little cat feet" and with the wind calm (0000KT) it could well sit "over harbor and city on silent haunches" for an unpleasantly long time. And 1/4 mile visibility with an indefinite 200 foot ceiling (VV200) was well below minimums for the Runway 6 ILS approach. Still, the forecast continued to call for improving conditions so I headed for the airport.
By the time I'd pre-flighted N631S, taxied to the fuel island and topped off the tanks, the 12Z TAF was out:
TAF KBDR 051120Z 0512/0612 VRB03KT 2SM BR OVC006 TEMPO 0512/0514 1/2SM FG OVC002 FM051400 22005KT P6SM SCT010 OVC040 FM051600 22007KT P6SM SCT040 OVC150 FM052200 22008KT P6SM OVC040 FM060200 19007KT 5SM BR OVC020 FM060700 19008KT 4SM -RA BR OVC015=Now, in the TEMPO group, the forecaster at least acknowledged the presence of the fog. But conditions were still projected to improve after 14Z (9:00 AM).
But I've been flying in and out of Sikorsky Memorial Airport for quite a few years now, and I've seen fog before. The phenomenon could be very persistent, lingering for hours beyond the time when things were forecast to improve. So I wanted to see an improvement at KBDR before I'd launch in that direction. I'd wait a while.
Things improved a bit at KBDR just before 10:00 AM as the following METAR's show:
METAR KBDR 051452Z 00000KT 1/2SM FG BKN004 OVC008 10/09 A3038= SPECI KBDR 051459Z 00000KT 1SM BR BKN004 OVC008 11/09 A3038Visibility had improved to a mile and the ceiling was up to 400 feet. These values were adequate for the ILS approach. In addition, an amendment to the TAF had issued that seemed to promise continued improvement:
KBDR 051347Z 0514/0612 VRB03KT 1/4SM FG VV002 TEMPO 0514/0515 2SM BR OVC006 FM051500 22005KT P6SM SCT010 OVC040 FM051600 22007KT P6SM SCT040 OVC150 FM052200 22008KT P6SM OVC040 FM060200 19007KT 5SM BR OVC020 FM060700 19008KT 4SM -RA BR OVC015=If I got underway, I'd be at Bridgeport a bit after noon (17Z) and the forecast suggested that visibility would be good and the ceiling would be, by that time, overcast at 4,000 feet. Neat! So I fired up N631S and we were off the ground at 1522Z, headed north.
Of course, a forecast is just a forecast. A "guess" a highly educated guess, but... So as soon as N631S was settled down in cruise at 7,000 feet I checked the new METAR at KBDR:
SPECI KBDR 051515Z 00000KT 1SM BR OVC002 11/09 A3038 RMK AO2=Rats! The ceiling was back down to 200 feet. This was not what I wanted to see. So I did two things. First, I slooooowed N631S down a lot. Prop RPM down to 2100, fuel flow down to 10 gallons per hour. Perhaps some extra time would allow the happier parts of that forecast to materialize. And second, I started looking for another place to land.
SPECI KDXR 051544Z 22003KT 8SM SCT007 OVC055 11/09 A3037With eight miles of visibility and a high overcast ceiling, Danbury (KDXR) was a good option. With that Plan "B" in hand, all that was left was to go to KBDR and see what I found there.
I requested a couple of turns in the hold to figure things out. While the Garmin 530W GPS worked with the S-TEC 50 autopilot to fly N631S around in the hold I checked the METAR's at nearby airports. Waterbury-Oxford (KOXC) was only about 12 miles north and was VFR so that's where we went. N631S and I landed there at 1746Z. (The clip above shows the approach to KBDR, the hold and the flight path up to KOXC. Click to enlarge, if you like.)
So there I was in Oxford and there sat the fog at Bridgeport. I checked the 18Z TAF, which had just been issued:
TAF KBDR 051733Z 0518/0618 VRB04KT 1SM BR BKN003 OVC060 TEMPO 0519/0523 6SM BR SCT005 BKN060 FM052300 21005KT 1SM BR BKN003 FM061500 22008KT 4SM BR BKN008=The forecaster was now suggesting that prevailing weather for the balance of the afternoon would be a mile visibility and 300 foot ceiling, with brief periods of good visibility and a 6,000 foot ceiling. I'd watch the METAR's and hope for a break in the weather that I could use to sneak into Bridgeport.
The break came (I thought) at about 2:00 PM (19Z), when the visibility rose to 3 miles and the ceiling lifted to 400 feet:
SPECI KBDR 051859Z 00000KT 3SM BR OVC004 12/10 A3030 RMK AO2=OK, that was good enough. I quickly called Flight Service and filed an IFR flight plan for KOXC to KBDR, direct.
The controller asked me if I had gotten "Tango" and I said, "Yes, and it's depressing." She said, "A King-Air just missed there...do you want to try it anyway?" I declined and asked for a vector back to KOXC, which still enjoyed excellent visual conditions.
That wrapped up aviating for the day. I arranged with the FBO to park N631S overnight and, with another pilot who'd diverted from KBDR, rented a car for the short drive to Bridgeport. That turned out to be a good choice, as for the rest of the day the ceiling at KBDR never got above 200 feet. The weather at this writing (Tuesday evening) continues to be poor. But this weather system will pass through tomorrow and Thursday is forecast to be VFR. That's when I'll find my way back to Oxford to retrieve N631S.