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Real Flying- Why I never went today....

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I was planning to fly from Jeffco (Denver area Class D airport) to Colorado Springs (COS, Class C airport) to pick up our grandson today and bring him back to stay with us (about 80 nm). With a departure time of 1400 MDT planned, I went on-line this morning and got the following information:Denver CO (Jeffco) [KBJC] terminal forecastissued on the 11th at 6:56am MDT (1256Z), valid from the 11th at 7am MDT (13Z) through 6am MDT (12Z) 7am MDT (13Z) wind variable at 3 knots, visibility 5 miles, mist, 200 feet scattered, 2,000 feet broken 7am (13Z)-9am MDT (15Z) temporarily visibility 1 mile, mist, 200 feet broken 9:00am MDT (1500Z) wind 010

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I often purposely search for just that kind of weather at http://aviationweather.noaa.gov/ for the (simulated) practice. I also enjoy recreating some of my actual flights into and out of Jeffco with weather at minimums back in the '70s when ATC vectors, course, and altitude changes frequently had one flying all over the Denver controlled airspace in order to avoid Stapleton's traffic and land at Jeffco's 29L or 29R. For that trip, it's best to drive unless it's snowing hard and Monument Hill has become impossible to traverse. http://home.kscable.com/rfromholz/ady.JPG

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Briefers always say VFR not recommended. Its been my experience that 9 times out 10 they over react to wx conditions, atleast down here in Flordia.With a TAF like that though who could argue :). I suppose it helps being instrument rated sometimes...mw

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particularly the fabled Cessna 210/Centurion... Kennedy too -Saratoga. Too many people think that they need to/ are able to test the VFR not recommended, even with hundreds of hours under their belts....unfortunately many times those individuals wind up running into the ground at redline...doesn't matter if it is a mountain or flat terrain. I agree that the briefers are many times going on data that seems worthless when you are standing at the field preflighting after getting off the phone with them, but there has been more than one occasion where I did not regret the "no go" decision. But, that's just one conservative flyer's opinion. P4 1.8768 ram 80 gig hardriveVisiontek Ti4 4600CH yoke/pedals19" inch monitor-Soundblaster PCI 512Win XPPrivate PilotAOPALawyerPilots Bar AssociationNTSB Bar AsssociationPIC- Warrior, Archer, 172N-SP, Aztec, Malibu SIC (for fun)- Conquest, King Air c90"Men without dreams are never free, twas thus this way and thus will ever be."

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Hi Francois,This is a very small clip from DUATS. This service used to be available to anyone, until they got over-loaded with non-pilots (may have been simmers, I don't know). Now, you need an FAA medical Certificate # or an FSS Pilot Certificate #, in order to be able to register. In a typical flight that I do, I'll get maybe 10 or so letter-size pages with some very advanced weather and lots of NOTAMs too. I can get a Forecast Briefing (more than 8 hours), Standard Briefing (full version) or Abbreviated Briefing. The same as the FAA gives me on the phone when I call- and the info is most times exactly the same, it just sounds more valid with an FAA briefer speaking it!Bruce.

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Hi,"....all over the Denver controlled airspace in order to avoid Stapleton's traffic ..."That's interesting! I was here in the Denver area back when Stapleton was still open, although not flying. Now, I can pick up V-81 out of BJC, and if Denver TRACON clears me for the Class Bravo overlying BJC, I can fly up to 9,500 on a straight line to Black Forest, just north of COS, and get flight following the whole way too.The biggest deal at BJC these days is the 07/08 approach at DEN, when Center are bringing a/c down from the north-west. TRACON will vector them down over Jeffco, and turn them there on an ILS intercept. They are often barely at 8,000 MSL (about 2,500 AGL), I think TRACON even steals a little of Jeffco's Class D to do that. When you're in the pattern at 6,500, and a 777 is only barely 1,500 above you, it's really daunting to say the least! Jeffco Tower will often request a visual on the traffic, and then issue a wake turbulence advisory once the traffic is identified.Bruce.

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Oh Please,That is why we are called Pilot In Command.It was very interesting how after 9/11, The FAA Flight Service Specialists were granted absolute immunity if they screwed up a notam, but the pilots as always have to take the heat, even when the FSS guys couldn't tell us exactly where the No-fly zones were, like open air assemblies of people and industrial complexes with absolutely no definition.I agree with the other poster. VFR Not Reccomended is sometimes heard to mean carte blanche for the FAA.I decide when I fly, not the FAA. That is my responsibility as PIC, and no others. And yes I am conservative in my Go-No Go decisions as well.Regards,Joe :-kewlhttp://home.attbi.com/~jranos/mysig.jpg http://avsim.com/hangar/air/bfu/logo70.gif

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Joe, Matt and laywer_pilot,Interesting comments. I'm a low time private pilot, so exercise most likely too much caution (of such a thing consists). The FAA will often say "VFR not recommended" with even the slightest hint of bad weather. I have read an AOPA of some that got complacent with this, as it was always great VFR wx, then one day it proved to be right. Like that TAF I posted- the actual wx at this end of the trip (I would have been returning at about 5PM) turned out far worse than forecast, with rain and less than 1sm visibility, preventing even an SVFR clearance. Legally, I would have had to declare an emergency, and who knows what would have transpired then. I'm doing my instrument rating, although we had ice in that muck yesterday too.My biggest inhibitor is getting dispatch (read "wife") to clear me to fly. She took the written test prep (and exam) with me, just to understand more about what I was doing, and she really knows when the wx is a factor, believe me.!Bruce.

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BruceYou have to fly in what you are capable of and what the aircraft is capable of.Again the old saying "better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here".This is where our sims are lacking. We need a far more realistic weather capability in MSFS.One which challenges you. adds the unknown and makes you make GO no Go decisions as well as adding a little adrenalin to our sim flights.Peter

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Hi Peter,Thanks for the good advice, just what I am doing! Really though- there is nothing as valuable as advice from an experienced pilot- I know that now I like hanging around the flight area at BJC just to talk to the resident CFI's there and glean all I can. So, thanks again.I agree with the sims comments too. Although not strictly required for VFR, I always plan an alternate- not for the IFR reason of wx, but more in case there's been an accident and the airport's closed with fire trucks running everywhere. In that case, I always want the mag course (corrected for forecast winds at cruise speed) and time to the alternate. Again, the legal reserve for VFR daytime is 30 minutes. I always use an hour reserve, then an additional 30 minutes "special reserve", and that's to the primary then diverted to the alternate above.In regards to the sims comments, we always know that in FS or Fly!, the airports is exactly in the same shape is it was last time we were there (unless we've added scenery). Imagine if the airports did somehow mutate on start-up, and you actually needed to get all those pages of local and FDC NOTAMs for a flight. (I go one step further and call the FBO for latest advisories before departure too- see, I told you I was"over-safe" :) ).Thanks again for your comments, Peter. If ever you're over here, I'd love to go flying with you.Finally- one seasoned CFI once told me that the personal rules and limitations of flight we have are like plastic- if you ever bend them, they never do quite resume their old shape- and eventually they'll break!Bruce.

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Your comment about VFR reserve just reminded me of a good trivia question:Q: How much fuel do you need to have on board after landing?A: Enough to taxi to the gate :). That regulation is written solely for the purposes of pre-flight planning. Ok Ok, now don't flame me here, I would NEVER want to land with only that much fuel on board, I was writing because I thought it was an interesting discussion topic :).Oh I heard this from a Continental Airlines pilot. If anyone knows different, let me know, cause its what i'm gonna teach...so I need to teach the right stuff :).BTW I really like your last quote, "Finally- one seasoned CFI once told me that the personal rules and limitations of flight we have are like plastic- if you ever bend them, they never do quite resume their old shape- and eventually they'll break"Thats awesome, I'm gonna have to write it down somewhere. And how true it is :).mw

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En route to KCOS with real (standard...) weather @ 18:50.

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From and old and experenced pilot and CFII... Fly only in weather you KNOW you can safely handle and not in weather you THINK you can safely handle... IF you have any doubts stay on the ground until you get the IFR time and can handle the weather that might once have given you some doubts.... Ron Mashburn

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Hi shrink,Do you have at least 1,000 ft ceilings above you (that looks like a broken layer to me) and 3 sm visibility? Even if you do, I wouldn't be up in that lot.Something I haven't brought up in this thread is the windshear yesterday. BJC reported winds 360 at 12, and 4 degrees C (ATIS at 1700 MDT). COS, about 80nm away, reported winds 170 at 10, temps 15 C. There was going to be a big bump yesterday- over the Palmer Divide, I expect- a small range of about 8,000 feet that divides northern and southern CO, and forms a nice weather barrier too.Nice pic, btw :)Bruce.

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Thanks Ron,You can give me advice anytime!By the way, my flying "career" is aimed at a CFI, something I would like to do in retirement. I only hope I find students with the passion for aviation that I have!Thanks again,Bruce.

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I like the fuel reserve comment, Matt :)"BTW I really like your last quote, "Finally- one seasoned CFI once told me that the personal rules and limitations of flight we have are like plastic- if you ever bend them, they never do quite resume their old shape- and eventually they'll break""You know, I've seen pilots walk right up to a C172 parked adjacent to the one I'm checking out, jump in after releasing the tie-downs, and take off after run-up. So- while I guess these trainers are indeed safe, as they're checked out many times a day, there's still that element of risk. Like the pilot that departed the Boulder airport a few years ago, and hadn't removed the gust-lock (he really checked out the "controls free and correct" part of the run-up!). He ran out of runway eventually, dropped out of sight into a field and finally got the airplane airborne by trimming up elevator, I guess getting that lock free in a panic isn't easy!Bruce.

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Reading your post I got curious about what the "real" weather would come up with... It was broken allright, visi was 34+ nm... no wind.I would nevet take off with degrading conditions, as was the case, anyways. Old mountain hiker habit I guess...

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That mountain hiker comment applies to me too. I've been wandering in the mountains for over 40 years now and was taught by many mountain farmers/guides about the dangers of the mountains, mostly invoked by 'weather'. I would think that 'mountain flying' adds another dimension to the weather issue. Weather in the mountains can change very rapidly from beautiful to extremely nasty. Difficult for pilots (and forecasters) to gauge, really.I'd be with Bruce on the 'over-sensitive' side when it comes to go-no-go decisions. I stayed on my balcony, baking in the sun many times just because the weather forecast wasn't good and I don't like taking chances getting myself into trouble. I have been in really bad weather in the mountains (on the ground !!) and that can be very very scary indeed. In the air that would only be much worse ;-)Better safe than sorry is the expression that comes to mind.Hey, Bruce, if you ever get to be CFI in retirement you might give me a flight lesson in my retirement ! :-) :-) :-outta Francois :-wave[table border=0 cellpadding=10 cellspacing=0][tr][td valign=bottom" align="center]"At home in the wild"[/td][td valign=bottom" align="center][link:avsim.com/alaska/alaska_051.htm|Don's Alaskan Bush Charters]"Beavers Lead the Way"[/td][td valign=bottom" align="center][link:www.avsim.com/vfr_center/mainpages/vfr_flights_main_page.htm]VFR Flight Center]"Looking Good Outside"[/td][/tr][tr][td valign=top" align="center]http://avsim.com/hangar/air/bfu/logo70.gif[/td][td valign="top" align="left" colspan=2]http://ftp.avsim.com/dcforum/User_files/3cdd6a6a60efc7f5.gif[/td][tr][/table]________________________Francois A. "Navman" DumasAssociate Editor &Forums AdministratorAVSIM Online![/bemail: fdumas@avsim.com________________________

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Hi Francois,"Hey, Bruce, if you ever get to be CFI in retirement you might give me a flight lesson in my retirement ! "Yes- that would be a lot of fun!I've enjoyed "discussing" a real world flying situation here with everyone. I must add another illustration of judgement. On my check-ride, which was at a different airport to my home one, I turned up and found ceilings to be 2,500- which is just legal, given a 1,000 AGL flight over densly populated areas (VFR). I called my DE and said I was cancelling. He said "you could try it", and I said "no, not me". His response "I would have failed you on judgement if you did". He offered another plane at his location, and I drove up, where the wx was much better, and I had alraedy made points with the DE as well!! All of these things add up to form the ability to exercise judgment.Bruce.

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Talk about Terrible weather... Chicago this weekend was absolutely terrible... I was supposed to fly on Saturday and Sunday (IFR Training). I did end up flying on Saturday... but Sunday was 1/2 mile visibility and 600 feet overcast. I would have still been in the clouds even at the MDA!! :)I could have taken off... but not land at my airport!! You made the right choice... Sometimes VFR not recommended is a cautionary statement... so if you feel comfortable in that weather, its not a problem to go flying... cause I have... having experienced it with my instructor tons of times... In the end, you are the PIC!! :)Mihir

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