23 November 2004

Instrument Practice

Sometimes I will go for months without flying a real (non-practice) approach. One cannot schedule bad weather in advance! This evening, I flew there consecutive ILS approaches, each one with lower minimums, all at night! The first one at Davenport, IA was "routine" breaking out of a 1000-foot ceiling with five-plus miles of visibility. The weather became worst than forecast with widespread low ceilings and visibilities. If I had flown all the way from Davenport, IA to Tulsa, OK, I would not have had enough fuel reserves to fly to an alternate. That forced an intermediate stop at Joplin, MO. The weather there was at minimums - 200-foot overcast, one mile visibility.

I made the landing at Joplin and flew the 90 miles to Tulsa. The Tulsa weather was sky obscured, 1/2 mile visibility. They were using runway 36R because the wind was calm and 36R had the best approach lights. I needed them because at the decision height (200 feet above and 1/4 mile from the runway) all we saw was the glow of the approach lights. I descended another 100 feet and picked up the runway lights. 36R has runway edge lights plus imbedded lights in the center and left and right halves of the runway creating five parallel sets of lights showing the way. While I was finishing the rollout, the tower said, "1BL, are you on the ground?" The visibility was so bad the tower could not see me or any other airplanes!

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