The days start early in the summer. Our flight planning is done in the space between the completion of eight hours of sleep and the engine start time required to be in the right place at the right time. If we're lucky, hotel breakfast is also available during that period. The real reason my charts need replacing every 56 days has more to do with the effects of toast and orange juice than of airspace changes. Ironically the further the place we need to be is from the place sleep and flight planning occur, the less time in which I have to do flight planning. I look at the GFAs and scan as many NOTAMs as I can for runway closures and fuel unavailability. The weather is generally good, I don't see any problems that will stop us from reaching our destination, or slow us down enough to affect planning.
We have some work to do, but the main goal of the day's flight is to get the airplane back to base for a scheduled inspection, so when the work is done I push a couple of buttons on the magic GPS box--I love that box so much. I can't imagine how much time I would have had to spend flight planning every morning if I had to get from A to B for innumerable values of A and B not necessarily known in advance of take off, without GPS. We don't have enough fuel to get all the way to base, but I have a good picture in my head of the airports along the route, and I can check my intuition by adding my choice as a GPS waypoint to see how far it is and how straight a line it makes. Not requiring a detour is a good property for an en route fuel stop, but I also need to consider the quality of the apron so we won't contaminate or damage our equipment and the ease of fuelling. Better to go a few minutes out of the way for an airport with an easy drive-up fuel pump with a high flow rate than to land at one that is right on the way but requires waiting for a slow response to a callout.
The visibility is dropping straight ahead. It's not obvious at first, because there isn't anything I'm looking for many miles straight ahead, but the next sign is that the cloud layer above gets a little darker. The unmissable sign is when the clouds ahead are illuminated by lightning. I'm flying towards an active thunderstorm. I deviate towards a lighter area of the sky and try to turn back behind the storm that blocked me, but there's another one too close behind it. I call flight services and pick up SIGMET M1, reporting this line of previously unforecast thunderstorms and forecasting them to remain. I love that radar and other modern technologies allow weather forecasters to sit in another province and see the factors that lead to thunderstorms forming, but that these ones still managed to sneak in without being on the GFA. There are enough of them that I have to bypass two airports and proceed to my third choice airport for landing.
I land behind and park next to a small single-engine airplane and chat to the pilot about the weather. It's a smart-looking composite airplane but I don't ask him what it is, because I know it's something I should recognize, and am just blanking on the type. I go in and update the weather at the FBO computer, and then plot an alternate route to destination. The flight services specialist asks me as I line up for take off if I have the SIGMET. "Affimative, we have M2," I say. I sound so like I know what I'm doing. I must know somewhat, as I get home without incident and taxi to our ramp.
I shut down, and complete the post shutdown checklist items, which includes making a journey log entry. The ops manager keeps the journey log in the back of the airplane, but it's always behind the seat when I fly. I like to fill it out before I get out of the airplane. For me it's the best way to make sure it gets done. Meanwhile our maintenance personnel have opened the hangar door, hooked the airplane up to the tug and towed me inside before I even get my seatbelt off. They do this to me a lot. I'm never really fast at getting out of an airplane after a flight.
And I figured it out. It was a Diamond Katana. I'm slow at airplane identification as well as egress.