Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bowerman - Seattle / Cessna 182RG II (N7109V) / VFR

This was a rare IFR flight in a Cessna from Bowerman (Hoquiam) to Seattle. The weather was quite grim, cloudy, misty, and rainy.

I filed HQM.V27.SEA at 5000 feet (the highest MEA along this route is 3200), and was cleared as filed. I took off to the west, then turned around and joined the 049 radial from HQM and then to SEA.

Along the way I couldn't see anything but large and fast-moving clouds, plus rain. I worked hard to stabilize my altitude and did a pretty good job. In fact, I was pretty pleased with how well I was doing at holding that altimeter right on the dot—until I realized that I was exactly 500 feet below my assigned altitude (4500 instead of 5000). Oops! ATC was gracious enough not to point this out to me; when I found out I excused myself and climbed as quickly as possible to 5000. By then, however, I was moving into the Seattle Class B, and ATC had me come back down to 4000, then 3000, as it turned me north for a landing on 16C.

On the way north, ATC questioned my heading. I was on 340, as instructed, but the wind from the west was so brisk that I was being blown twenty degrees to the right. ATC, which is more used to big iron than spam cans like mine, was surprised to see the difference, but quickly figured it out.

Shortly thereafter I was turned towards the airport and cleared for the ILS runway 16C approach, ATC told me to go around. Seems a 737 was coming directly at me. As terrifying as this sounds, it's not unusual at this particular airport. See, Microsoft Flight Simulator has a “default flight” that you can load that places you right on the runway at Seattle; newbies to VATSIM often just load up the default flight and log on, and so sometimes aircraft appear suddenly at the south end of the runway, and problems of considerable magnitude result. In this case, though, it was a clueless pilot rather than a newbie, but I'm not sure. I looked for the traffic but never actually saw it with all the clouds and mist in the way. I expected to see a huge airliner surge out of the clouds at any minute, but it never happened.

So I drifted along west on a heading of 250 as instructed. I had plenty of fuel, so I didn't care. After a few minutes ATC managed to deal with the rogue pilot and vectored me back to the ILS approach. I captured the localizer and glide slope with no problems and flew the approach by hand. The air was a bit rough, and I could see clouds racing eastward in front of me, but I managed to hold my course and land without any trouble. My big worry is always windshear or gusts or something at the last second, but I was lucky this time.

I taxied over to the GA ramp area north of the tower and parked.

While looking at the charts, I noticed that KSEA has opened 16R/34L, so after I finished the flight, I updated the KSEA airport with AFCAD to add the new runway (I had previously made changes for the runway number changes and for the construction areas). Now I can use any of the three runways at the airport.

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