03 August 2008

"Do whatever you want....

...You're the only one stupid enough to be flying today!"

Sometimes an ATC clearance comes back so fast that it communicates exactly that thought. Today was one of those days:

Me: ABC Tower, Nxxxxx seven North landing November.
ABC Tower: Nxxxxx cleared to land runway two two right.

The weather wasn't bad, just hot, 110F on the window thermometer.

Last time I heard such a clearance was about 15 years ago. A friend and I were heading to the SF Bay Area to visit our respective parental units. I was the pilot flying and he (a CFI) was running the radios. Unfortunately there was a cold front between point A and Point B and we were flying a 150 HP single on an IFR clearance at 12,000. Needless to say, there just isn't any reserve performance available at that altitude. Somewhere over the Mojave desert we hit a down draft (probably wave). I slowed to Vy, our best climb rate, but the VSI was still showed 1500 fpm down and the altimeter was showing 11,800. I asked my partner to get us a block altitude 10-12 thousand.

Again the block clearance came back so fast as to reflect the title of this post. I pushed the nose over to accelerate and escape the downdraft. We bottomed out at 10,300 then hit the updraft which pegged the VSI at +2000 fpm sendng us right back up to 12,000 feet.

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