25 September 1985

Bruce meets Bob, two approaches to Danville

My father, Annette McQuinn and I were flying from Charleston, West Virginia to Danville, Virginia in a Cessna 182RG. During the two hours en route to Danville, Tropical storm 'Bob' took an unexpected turn to the Danville area.

Before I passed the final approach fix on the localizer, I looked through a break in the clouds and saw the airport beneath me. According to my timer, the airport should still be at least five miles ahead. The marker beacon should have beeped before I reached the airport. Somehow I had missed the marker beacon, and my ground speed was much faster than I had thought. I began the missed approach procedure with a climbing 180o right turn. I asked Washington Center to tell me when I was over the marker beacon on the next approach. My ground speed indicated that there was a seventy-knot headwind. That headwind would become a tailwind when I turned inbound for the second approach. The reason I missed the marker beacon the first time, was because I was too high. The strong tailwind blew me by it before I started my descent. On the second approach I pulled the power to idle as soon as I turned inbound on the localizer. The airplane descended from 5000 feet to 2500 feet as quick as it could. This time I picked up the weak outer marker and followed the localizer to the runway.

The clouds were 400 feet off the ground, visibility one mile. The wind on the surface was 35 knots from the right and behind me. I circled the airport at 400 feet and landed into the wind on a different runway. The circling approach in low visibility is one of the most difficult instrument maneuvers.

It was pouring rain. We jumped out of the airplane and ran to the lobby. I turned around, and much to my horror, I saw the airplane turning by itself into the wind. It had rotated more than ninety degrees. Fortunately nothing was in the airplane's path.

No comments:

Post a Comment