26 February 1989

Clouds and slush

The Walls, the Kindreds, and the Millers were flying from Middletown to Elkins, West Virginia to go skiing at Snowshoe. When I called flight service to obtain a briefing, they told me that Elkins was closed because of snow on the runways. So I called Elkins and asked them if they were going to plow their runways. They replied that a runway would be clear in about two hours. It would take me three hours to get there. I could not file to Elkins, because at the time I would file the airport would be closed. So I filed to Clarksburg, thirty miles northwest of Elkins.

Seventy miles out, I called Elkins and asked if their runway was open. They said it had just opened ten minutes ago. I then negotiated with Cleveland Center, and they let me change my destination to Elkins. Sometimes you just have to work the system.

Elkins has an LDA approach that takes you to the airport, but not directly to a runway. Then you have to circle to land. I enjoyed flying the approach through heavy snow all the way to minimums. The airport appeared directly underneath us. I had to circle a 500-foot hill to set up for final approach.

The visual part of the approach was uneventful, but I was very concerned about the accumulated snow on the runway. The memory of sliding down Middletown's runway after a snow shower was still vivid. I was prepared to execute the missed approach if there was any sliding at all. This runway was only 4,500 feet, compared to Middletown's 6,000 feet. Much to my surprise when the wheels hit the slush, there was so much drag that the airplane came to a stop within 500 feet of touchdown. This approach and landing was one of my favorites. It was probably not a favorite among my passengers.

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