That’s a lot of water in one year. Actually, for Dallas Texas, it’s an all-time record. I thought about that as I prepared for a post-Thanksgiving round trip to KBHM (Birmingham, AL). A huge low had deposited itself and about seven inches of rain over the Dallas area. Ceilings of 300 overcast and visibilities of one mile covered several hundred miles of north Texas. A line of TRW’s with tops to FL450 lay between me and the destination. AIRMETS for moderate icing covered the entire route. The passengers were all VIP’s. My grandchildren.
And I hadn’t flown in 30 days.
As I laid awake the night before departure, I went over and over my personal limitations. Maybe the weather would miraculously improve at daybreak. Perhaps the forecasters didn’t know what they were talking about. As the sun rose, I took a peek at the 5-a.m. METARS.
It was actually worse than forecast. I called Southwest, booked three tickets and apologized to my family. I felt like a failure.
Three days later, it was time to bring them back. The KADS (Addison, TX) weather was the same.
03010KT 1SM OVC 003
The minimums for the KADS Runway 33 ILS are 250 DA and 1 SM. Scattered TRW’s covered the route with moderate icing from 3,000 feet through FL310. The destination weather was forecast to be marginal VFR with rain showers . I needed some help.
I called my pro-pilot buddy Gary Matlock to see if he wanted to ride right seat. “Sure,” he said. “As soon as I drop off the CJ3 in San Antonio, I will airline to Dallas and meet you at the hangar.” A sense of relief fell over me and all was well.
We met at the hangar, briefed responsibilities, and blasted off, Gary handling the radios and checklist, and me the flying chores. I felt relaxed with no pressure, just having him there. As forecast, we picked up moderate ice in the climbout. We landed in BHM in light rain after deviating around a couple of cells and loaded up the passengers. The flight home was a little more interesting.
Descending into the Dallas area with light rain and light icing, center handed us off to approach control. Listening to the conversations, it was obvious that some controller training was in progress. The trainee was in a little over his head. “November 1865 Charlie, cleared direct HOWDY.” From my experience flying in the area, I knew this fix was on an arrival to KDFW, not KADS. “Ahh, six-five Charlie is landing at Addison,” I said. “Where?” came the reply. “Ok, just continue on your arrival.” We were still at 16,000 feet within a few miles of YEAGR, the feeder fix. I knew the crossing restriction was 9,000, so I slowed to get ready for the dump. “Do you want 65 Charlie at 9,000 at YEAGR?” I queried. Then another controller took over. “65 Charlie, cross YEAGR at 9000.” Then,” 65 Charlie I will need to vector you out of sequence into Addison.” “No problem”, Gary replied. After a big, right 360, we were established on the localizer and descended through the murk. We broke out at 400 feet for an uneventful landing.
Could I have done all this by myself? Sure. Would I have been comfortable? Absolutely not.
On this day, having a pro in the right seat made the flight just another training exercise.
I really enjoyed it too.