The fog lingers a little later every day and comes sooner every evening, as does the darkness of night. This far north it is very evident that we are in the season where we turn our back on the sun. We're working too close to the hills to do night missions, so there's only time to fly one mission a day.
I call for the airport advisory and get back calm winds, no traffic. I choose the nearest runway and then the specialist asks me if I'd like the surface condition report. I'm a little irked that that wasn't considered part of the advisory. I mean, it's information about the airport that I should have to make decisions about my movements. I'd prefer it all at once, not offered as an afterthought. In this case I'm advised that the runway I have chosen is 90% bare and dry, 10% ice patches. Sounds about right. I don't change my mind and we continue to taxi for that one. There are salt crystals of some sort on the movement areas. It won't be ordinary NaCl, as that's too corrosive for use with airplanes. It must be something more exotic and expensive.
I take off and we head west. The morning fog is gone, but there is still a layer of cloud to the north. The wind is less toda, so we don't have as high an airspeed, reducing the cooling at the back, so we don't have to bake quite as hard. We're flying in the clear with the mountains to the west and the prairies to the east and the Alaska Highway and some meandering rivers snaking back and forth underneath us. On each side of us, clouds are seeping in below. Before we'd like to, it's time to call it quits.
The clouds are fairly low over the airport as I join downwind, and the terrain rises just past the riverbank. I turn around a little sooner than I might otherwise have and hook it back into line with the runway without overbanking. The weather is changing, though. We don't expect to fly tomorrow.
Much further south, in Arizona, BLKAV8TOR2003 turned up these pictures of the results of a birdstrike. The pilot and airplane came out of it a lot better than the bird, but damn, it wouldn't have taken much to make that a tragic tie.