The Practical Use Of An Airplane – Part 2

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If you read Part 1 you’ll know I was reveling in my successful freight run from Ohio down to the panhandle of Florida. The cargo happened to be my 18 year old son who was heading down to the Spring Break ravaged town of Panama City and a week of frolicking among other like-minded, hormone-encrusted, young adults. I’m glad I’m past that phase of my life. 

The plan was to return exactly seven days later and retrieve him for a stylish trip home in his old man’s RV-8. What could go wrong? You already know the answer…the weather. 


My preflight planning consists mostly of just watching the civilian forecasts for the cities along my route on my iPhone a couple of days out from the departure date. Those forecasts were ominous at best for almost the entire route. As the date neared I eagerly looked for improvement, but found none. A look at more aviation oriented sources of weather confirmed the state of the atmosphere east of the Mississippi.

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Plan B consisted of Mitchel being number six, in a six passenger SUV. I still held out until the morning of the trip just in case I could sneak down there and save him from the jaws of a 12 hour cramped car ride. It wasn’t happening. A front was traversing the country and dumping IFR condition and precip along most of the route. We just lost a famed air show pilot at Monroe County, TN last week, this was my tech stop on the way down. I believe he was flying at night and it appears to have been a CFIT accident. I’m not about to go scud running in that neck of the woods. 


Since my RV is equipped for IFR, but not certified at the moment I’m unable to file and just go into the soup, plus by the time I would have gotten back to Ohio it was turning to heavy snow. I not into flying in known icing in my RV.


The good news is there wasn’t really a decision to be made. I had alternatives – Mitchell riding with friends or a one way airline ticket. And the weather was so bad as to not even tempt me into something less than sensible.


Had conditions been marginally better, I would hope my judgement wouldn’t fail me. Every trip we face is a myriad of decisions and the best way to be successful is to always have an out. Making it easy on yourself to make the no-go decision is the best way to avoid calamity. 


By Brent Owens 


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