Friday, January 30, 2009

Hold For Snow Removal

I just got back from a flight in a King Air 350. The route took us from Concord to Asheville, NC to Decatur, IL, then to Aurora, IL and finally to Peoria, IL. The leg from Asheville, NC to Decatur was almost entirely IMC, and we prepared to shoot the approach into Decatur.

Now, I am originally from Florida. I have flown in and around some terrible weather in south Florida and in the Carribean, but not alot of snowy weather. We popped out of IMS conditions about 50 miles or so from our destination, and the weather was going to be fine for a visual approach, however, there was snow everywhere, and locating the runway was going to be a real challenge.

Then the approach controller announced over the radio for us to hold at the next fix. A bit perplexed by the request, we asked what the problem was, and the controller replied that they were removing snow from the runway for our arrival. A few times around the hold, and we were ready to go.

Now we could see the runway, as it was now carved out of the one to two feet of snow. On our final approach to land we were informed that the runway had alot of ice and that braking was not recommended. The runway was very long, so this did not present a problem for us, and we continued. I touched down on the first 500 feet of runway to give myself the maximum amount of runway to stop, and proceded to put in reverse prop. This was very effective in slowing the aircraft down, without using any brakes. I was able to get the plane to taxi speed without using brakes at all, which helped us from sliding off the runway on all the ice.

The taxi back to the FBO went uneventful, and thus, my first landing into very icey and snowy conditions was accomplished without incident.

I had a really great time seeing all the snow in Illinois while I was there, but am really glad that I do not live in conditions that are that way on a continual basis during the winter. I can see where that would get really old, really fast. I am back in North Carolina now, and am really happy that the weather here is really nice, most of the time.

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