I arrived at the airport in plenty of time to prepare for my first flight, and both the weather and the airplane appeared fit for flight, except that there was a sheet of ice covering most of the airplane. That's normal for this time of year, but it is illegal to attempt a take-off with ice or snow on the airplane. (And I do mean attempt: you can find a long list of nasty accidents resulting from failed attempts). Fortunately, deicing was available, and we were first in line. A spray of thick hot fluid (it looks, but doesn't taste, like a thickened version of the stuff you got at birthday parties at McDonalds when you were six) melted the ice and stayed on the wings to offer limited protection from refreezing during taxi.
I inspected the airplane and ensured that the ice had been completely removed, then decided to let the airplane wait a few minutes, dripping with orange goop, before starting up. Snow removal was in progress, so better to wait on the apron than wait, engines running, on the taxiway. Just as I decided to depart, I looked to the north and realized that I couldn't see a familiar landmark that was usually there. I looked to the east, and realized mist was forming. Within one minute the condtions dropped from a vague diminishment of visibility to the east to complete coverage of the airport in fog, below a quarter mile visibility. Back inside for another cup of coffee.
The fog cleared after less than an hour and we returned to the airplane, and reinspected it for ice--still clean. I got in, and discovered a problem with my seat. A quick call to maintenance. While explaining the problem to maintenance I got dripped on by orange deicing goop. Damn, on my spiffy company jacket. I'll have to do a laundry advice to pilots blog entry soon. Maintenance fixed the seat, but had no sympathy for the jacket. And finally, we were off.
It really is a miracle that any flight departs on time, ever.
P.S. Reminder to self of three important phone calls to make tomorrow, to contacts at: Aardvark, Badger and Groundhog.
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