As a devoted Baltimore Ravens fan, you were thrilled to see your team make the Super Bowl. Things only got better when a friend called up with tickets to the big game. To make an adventure out of it, you’ve decided to fly your 1995 A36 Bonanza to New Orleans, stopping in Chattanooga, TN to visit family on the way southwest from Maryland. Now it’s Super Bowl Sunday and it’s time to head for the Big Easy. Your route is from KCHA to KNEW, where your friend will meet you and take you to the game.
Read the pre-flight briefing below, then decide if you’re going or canceling.
Your Bonanza is fairly well equipped, with a Garmin 430 GPS/NAV/COM, a KFC 200 autopilot and Stormscope. You are quite proficient in this airplane, with over 3,500 hours total time and 1,500 in type. Your instrument rating is used often, so you’re both legal and comfortable in the IFR system.
It looks like you’ll be IFR today, but the weather isn’t bad–the surface analysis shows pretty quiet conditions across your route of flight:
The radar shows no significant precipitation today either:
The satellite picture indicates you might be in the clouds for a bit, but there doesn’t appear to be anything nasty:
While there is no ice protection on the airplane, it looks like you won’t need it today. The icing forecast and the PIREPs are clear:
Weather reports at both your departure and destination are marginal VFR to IFR, but are perfectly fine for you and your airplane:
KCHA 17011KT 10SM BKN028 OVC100 15/09 A3025
KNEW 13010KT 10SM BKN025 BKN033 26/17 A3016
It’s always a good idea to read the NOTAMs before any flight, but when you’re flying to the Super Bowl it’s absolutely essential. Sure enough, there’s a big one over New Orleans–two actually:
FDC 3/4082 details all the restrictions around New Orleans, and it shows the two TFRs: an inner ring extends to 10nm, and an outer ring extends out to 30nm. Both go from the surface to 18,000 ft. You would be allowed to fly into the outer ring, as long as you’re on a flight plan and squawking a code. But only law enforcement and air carriers are allowed in the inner ring. Unfortunately, your destination airport is inside that inner ring, so KNEW will be shut down from 4:30pm local until midnight.
Your plan was to be in the air by 8am, which would have put you on the ground in New Orleans by 10am local. That would have given you plenty of time to get to the stadium and enjoy the pre-game festivities with your friend.
Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned. After takeoff from CHA, the departure controller informed you that your transponder (the one you were going to replace at your next annual) was not working. This would usually be a minor nuisance, but headed to a major event like the Super Bowl means this is a no-go item. So you wisely turned around and landed back at CHA.
There is an avionics shop on the field, so you still have hopes of making the game. Since it’s 8am on a Sunday morning, the folks at Star Aviation Services are not in yet. But a desperate call to the 24-hour number gets an answer, and they kindly agree to come out and look at your airplane. After a few hours of trouble-shooting and work, the transponder is fixed. While the technician tells you to still replace it an annual, he signs it off and releases the airplane.
The good news is your airplane is fixed now. The bad news is time is running out. It’s now almost 2:30pm EST. Your flight plan says it will take 2:45 to get to New Orleans. That would put you on the ground at KNEW around 4:15 local, just 15 minutes before the TFR takes effect–if everything goes right.
You make the call
So is it a go or a no go? The weather is pretty good and your airplane is back in business, but there’s a nasty TFR staring you down. There’s no time for the airline option–you either blast off in the Bonanza or you head back to Aunt Flo’s house to watch the game on TV.
Time is of the essence and your friend is waiting for you in New Orleans–what would you do?