Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spokane - Seattle / Beechcraft Baron 58 (N3861S) / IFR

Sitting in the cockpit of one of my Barons feels like riding in a limousine after flying tiny Cessnas for the past few days. Today I filed IFR from Spokane to Seattle. The weather was excellent, but it can change unpredictably around Seattle, so I thought IFR would be more prudent.

All went quite smoothly. I navigated with instruments, so I didn't have to worry too much about terrain below. The only glitch came on the arrival (EPH.EPH6). I was at 8000, knowing that I'd have to climb before I reached the mountains to at least 12000. On several occasions, I requested 12000 from ATC, but I never got a reply. I ended up flying over a few mountains at only 600 feet AGL, counting the squirrels in the trees. The weather was clear and the air was smooth, so I could afford to cut it closer. Nevertheless, in real life, I would have climbed on my own and advised ATC (“leaving 8000 climbing 12000 for terrain”), but I let it ride here, and fortunately I survived.

ATC finally did remember that I was there, in time to hand me off to Seattle Approach. Thereafter ATC was more attentive. In fairness to controllers, though, this was in the middle of a VATSIM “Friday Night Ops” event, and the skies were very crowded.

In fact, Seattle was extremely crowded when I arrived, with aircraft everywhere. I had to wait quite a while just to taxi from my holding position just off 16L to the ramp (I like to park on the cargo ramp north of the tower). There was even a helicopter idling on the ground near my preferred parking place.

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