Thursday, May 17, 2018

Bugging out of Dayton to beat the weather

Plane: Cessna 182 RG 
Route: MGY-OZW
Weather - MGY: Broken clouds, 80 degrees, wind 070 degrees at 8 knots
Weather - OZW: Clear, 70 degrees, wind 040 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 16

I'm heading up to Boyne Mountain, MI this weekend for my future brother-in-law's bachelor party. The plan had been to fly up tomorrow in one simple straight shot. But I made the very last-minute call to bug out this afternoon, and I'm glad I did.

All week I've been watching the weather remain strange and somewhat uncooperative - a weak front has hung in the region for days, with regular scattered storms and hot, humid air. This weekend more moisture is pushing in and, over the past day, the forecast visibilities and ceilings have seriously deteriorated for tomorrow. Then I saw storms forming late this afternoon and decided at about 15:30 that I needed to leave right away if I wanted to fly at all.

So I finished packing, headed to the airport, loaded the plane, gave it a thorough pre-flight, pulled it out of the hangar, parked my car in the hangar, closed up the hanger, and started the engine. I was in the air off Runway 2 by 16:45. A thunderstorm was over the airport by 17:15.

Flying over Dayton Int'l - note the storms I was avoiding to the southeast

I called Columbus Approach for flight following right away so I could enter Dayton's airspace. I initially leveled at 4,500 feet to stay below the clouds (and that's the altitude the controller gave me) and the air was reasonably smooth considering thunderstorms were in the area. I hit a few good bumps, but all in all had no issues. Originally I flew a bit west of course to stay behind a cell that was moving west and remain far in front of the larger cell moving in from the east. By the time I was over DAY all the significant weather was behind me; I climbed up to my cruise altitude of 5,500 feet and turned back on course to OZW.

Nothing but clear, storm-free skies ahead!

Looking back towards the nasty weather I beat out of town

The line of storms I successfully beat out of town

Still learning the new plane, I decided to experiment with a few different power settings that are in the POH. I settled on 2100 RPM and 23" of manifold pressure this evening as a pretty good balance between speed, noise, and fuel burn. Despite a 20+ knot headwind for much of the trip, I was still seeing 140-145 knots over the ground.

Making 141 knots at 2100 RPM and 23" MP

Passing about 10 miles east of Grand Lake St. Marys

The sky was totally clear after about Lima, just a little haze in the distance but that was well beyond 25 miles in any direction. Columbus handed me off to Toledo Approach. He didn't sound too busy so I have him a PIREP at one point, mostly because I thought it would be nice to confirm the winds aloft as calculated by the Garmin 430 were pretty close to the forecast I was seeing in ForeFlight via ADS-B. And, well, I know that meteorologists like to receive every data point they can!

My first winds aloft calculation, west of Findlay

 These were about the strongest I calculated, southwest of Toledo

The winds began to subside (just as forecast) after I crossed into MI

Toledo Approach handed me off to Detroit Approach, which was a little busier but still relatively quiet on this Thursday evening. I passed over the Chrysler Proving Grounds near Chelsea and began my descent down to 2,000 feet. About 10 miles away from Livingston County I let Detroit know I had the airport in sight and they cut me loose.

There was one other plane, a Diamond, in the pattern when I approached, and he was using Runway 13. Had he not been there, I probably would have picked Runway 31 as I was already positioned to enter the left downwind; instead I crossed midfield to follow the Diamond. The winds were directly across the runway and gusty, certainly the strongest crosswind I've landed the Skylane in to date.

I'm happy to report all the training has paid off - controlling the plane through a few good bumps and burbles on short final, I touched down softly just past 18:00 on the left main, then the right, and then the nose wheel. It was honestly one of my better landings in the plane so far, period. After a quick taxi I pulled into a tiedown and shut down the engine. It was only 1.5 clock hours after I pulled the plane out of the hangar and started the engine at Wright Brothers.

Safely parked and tied down at Livingston County Airport in Howell, MI

My dad picked me up and we grabbed a sandwich for dinner. He lives nearby - you may recall my last couple flights to OZW were to see him. It's certainly handy to have a free place to stay near an airport that doubles as a good mid-trip stopover!

Flight Track: Google Earth KMZ File 
Today's Flight: 1.5 hours
Total Time: 391.1 hours


  1. Glad to see you taking advantage of your access to the Skylane! But, wait, that ForeFlight screenshot implies an iPad! I’m stunned! :-)

    1. Old news, indeed. I'm pretty sure that I was doing something very important that day and that this does not truly reflect on a lack of situational awareness on my part. ;-)

    2. Heh, yep, no worries. I'm still more of an Android/Google guy overall but I can't deny the iPad's cockpit prominence. FF and Aerovie are two top-notch tools.