March 25, 2013
On an attempted flight from Michigan to Orlando I was flying into Knoxville in the worst haze I had seen in my 600 hours. I could see the expressway I was following, and forward visibility was VFR-Legal. Following the expressway, I would not expect a mountain to appear in the windshield.
The fairly short forward visibility made me nervous, even more so when a mountain appeared off the right wing. So I climbed, told the Knoxville tower that I couldn't see the airport, and the calm and beloved controller vectored me to the runway. I was VFR-Legal at all times, but VFR-Dumb. There could have been a tunnel on the expressway, or an unusually sharp curve around a peak.
But, so far, so good. The next day it appeared that the weather - I've heard it called a "confederate front" - would not let me go on to Florida for several days, so I decided to return to Michigan. The ceiling was VFR-OK over Knoxville. Haze was reported immediately north of Knoxville, with clear sky from there on.
It seemed sensible to fly through a little haze to get into the severe-clear a few miles North. So I took off, climbed to 2,000 feet R&R (between my rear & the ridges), and turned north into that VFR-Legal haze. I could see the trees. OK, it should be turning clear soon.
But then somebody turned a fire hose on the windshield. No lightning, no thunder, just frog-strangling rain. Extremely nervous now (read "scared witless"), I did a passable job on the instruments, made a shallow 180 to get out of it, flew east into clear air, and turned north for a clear flight to Michigan. Until that haze-turned-to-clouds-turned-to-rain, I was VFR-Legal, and VFR-Dumb. That could have been thunder & lightning and a busted airplane.
To other VFR-only pilots, I offer this advice:
In a major deal between two of the best-known U.S. antique aircraft firms, Rare Aircraft has purchased a huge inventory of Stearman parts from Air Repair and will begin producing as-new Golden Age biplanes.
Garmin has announced an upgrade making new features and options available to operators of G1000-equipped King Airs in the 200/250/300/350 series.
Pilots from Maine and New England turned out in numbers for the annual Maine Aviation Forum hosted by EAA Chapter 1434.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.