Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not So Great Divide

Rotate, retract gear, climb power set, after take-off checks complete and a right turn back towards the terminal airspace. I've kept the same transponder code and they're fine with that, clearing me back into their airspace for a second job. It's pretty much the same altitude and the same bumpiness, but it should only take about forty-five minutes. It takes less, but company wants us to land five hundred nautical miles away across hostile terrain, where the bumps are coming from. Ah heck, you know where the hostile terrain that breeds turbulence is in my country. We're being sent across the continental divide to Vancouver.

Seatbelts cinched tight and ask for the clearance. We're cleared straight to ten five, and told to fly a vector for traffic at first, then cleared direct. Ironically the vector is direct Vancouver, but the GFAs have told us that heading south to hug the US border will be the way to stay clear of the worst of the turbulence and cumulonimbus clouds. So I turn southward, and then a little more directly south, waiting until the way forward doesn't look quite so dark with building clouds. I zip up the top of my flight bag after the first time a jolt of turbulence hits hard enough to fling contents all the way out and onto the floor. The flight bag--a knapsack--is already seatbelted to the passenger seat. All my charts flew out of the map pocket, too. Tighten seatbelts further.

I don't really want to do this for the next ... well it would still be over two hours direct with these winds --headwinds of course--but with the indirect route it will be three hours. I consider landing in Cranbrook for the night, so I call flight services for PIREPs and SIGMETs. There's no SIGMET for the turbulence along my route and they haven't had any pilot reports. I give them mine. It sounds as though the worst of the bumps may be behind us, so I decide we'll continue. I still set direct Cranbrook as a waypoint, because it's a good route to intercept the southern track I want to follow.

Approaching Cranbrook, it occurs to me that IFR traffic approaching this airport could be descending out of the clouds through my altitude. I'm in uncontrolled airspace but I call up Cranbrook radio and sure enough there's a Saab 340 on the way in. I give a position report and Cranbrook has me on radar. Impressive coverage here. The Saab is in descent and once they are through my altitude and I am past the airfield I switch back to the en route frequency. I do the same thing approaching Castlegar, and this time it's a Jazz, can't remember if it's a CRJ or a Dash 8 departing visually, with a left turn over the dam. They will be too fast for us to catch, even as they climb, so no conflict. Top of the next hour I update my weather again. Penticton is all thunderstorms, and I can soon see that ahead, so I look at US airspace across the border. It's a row of giant military operations areas. I know I can sometimes get clearance into them, but I hold off on asking until I see whether the Penticton area is passable within Canada. It is. I fly between Oliver and Osoyoos clear of the storms.

I eat some snacks to keep my brain and body working, but my innards don't feel too great. Then I realize that having a seatbelt cinched to the maximum for two hours is not doing my intestines any favours. I loosen the lap belt and yay for renewed gastric motility. How do those people who wear super tight pants and belts all day digest their food properly?

I try to go through a valley but it's choked with cloud and I end up climbing through one of them, picking up ice as I turn away from the rocks. This is not how you're supposed to do it and I imagine that ice-filled windscreen is the last sight a lot of pilots have seen around here. It wasn't quite how I planned it, but the shadows of rock and snow and cloud are deceiving around here. The ice all slides off as I descend into a wider and less cloudy valley and follow the river to the farmlands around Vancouver. Vancouver Tower clears us straight in, and to land, about ten miles out.

3 comments:

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I am really glad you are back.

Do you use and iPad for your charts or are you still using paper?

How's your Cambodian? Still practicing?

Dan in ALB said...

I'm guessing that the folks wearing the tight pants and belts don't eat too much so perhaps they don't need that gastric motility as much.

Tyler Hoppenfeld said...

What Dan said. To wear those pants, you really can't eat anything anyway.

Well, you can, but then its not really very attractive.

You vaguely described your blogging hiatus as a result of you using the same part of your creative skill set for something else. If it is something along the lines of "Wrote a book" or "Started a Youtube channel of 'Trix talking about weather," it would be awesome if there were a way to direct us to your work. Perhaps you ought to start a "list of things I recommend" and slip your own work into the list, anonymously.