Go or no go: heading north

Talk about “get-home-itis.” Your trip today is the final leg of a marathon freight dog run, with over 1 billion legs in the logbook so far. The flight has gone flawlessly, but you’re dead tired and would really like to get home to the Mrs. (Claus, that is). But just because you’re the big red man doesn’t mean you can skip the weather briefing, so you take one last glance at your iPad before takeoff.

It shows a good deal of white stuff out there and some serious fog, so it looks like your last flight won’t be easy. The good news is you are very current (23 hours in the last day) and your Mark IV sleigh is in excellent condition. You also don’t have to worry about running out of fuel tonight–you started using renewable energy sources long before it was fashionable–so you can deviate if you need to.

Read the report below and then tell us if you’re going or canceling.

Overview

Radar coverage is non-existent and there are no Pilot Reports, so there isn’t a lot of information to go on. A look at the North Atlantic chart shows a low pressure system moving up into the British Isles that could have some nasty weather:

North Atlantic

The satellite mosaic shows a line of clouds around that Low, and some scattered clouds towards the North Pole:

north pole satellite wsi

Text Weather

Unfortunately, budget cuts mean you have fewer elves than in previous years and they didn’t have time to fix the AWOS at your home airport. So for tonight’s flight, the weather reporting station is out of service. But you do have trained observers on site, and a quick call home reveals low ceilings with snow showers. Definitely an IFR night.

The Approach

The good news is you wisely installed an NDB/GPS approach a few years back for nights just like this. The bad news is the approach chart says the procedure is not legal to fly without an altimeter setting. And without that AWOS, you don’t have an altimeter.

North pole approach plate

You Make the Call

You’re anxious to get home, and you do have a famously bright landing light on the nose. But the weather is down and the AWOS is out. Do you go or cancel and get a room in Hawaii?

Merry Christmas to all our readers!

7 Comments

  • You are kidding right? This is a freight trip, you don’t look at the weather. Dispatch says go, you go! Ask any freight pilot.

    They often tell me yes they look at the weather, but it makes no difference because they’re going anyway.

  • Work is done I’m staying in Hawaii. Call the Mrs who is also current . Tell her to file a plan for herself in the a.m. Then tell her and take the extra Mark IV in the hangar to meet up with me. Than after a week or two the wife and I wingman it back north.

  • The ultimate in get-home-itis!! Santa has made this flight and this approach hundreds of times. There’s no traffic and NORAD has done its usual excellent job of flight following. And I hear that Rudolf has a very special Cat III Certification!

    So with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore:

    Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
    Now, Prancer and Vixen!
    On, Comet! On, Cupid!
    On, Donner and Blitzen!
    To the top of the approach on top of the world
    Find that NDB
    Santa is on his way
    Back to the North Pole
    To Runway 36 via a special unpublished Cat III!

    Happy Holidays to all!

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