Into the fog: a kid’s view of IFR flying

I couldn’t sit still in the seat of the car. In just a few long hours, we would be on a nice sunny island in the Bahamas, a lot better than this rainy fall weather! It was a dark, cloudy day, but I knew that the next day there would be not a cloud in the sky in the Bahamas. We pulled the car up to our hangar where the plane was ready to soar through the sky.

“Okay, I need one of you to open up the hangar door,” my dad demanded, standing on the tarmac. Gray clouds in every direction, the horizon was invisible because of the dense fog. The fog seemed like it made everything dull and gray. I could see the red and orange tints of the trees about to lose all of their leaves. They looked like a sea of orange and yellow. The dark black tarmac stretched out in every direction. The smell of exhaust lingered in the air from many other planes nearby. My suitcase was in my hand, its rough canvas brushing against my skin. It was very loud from the many planes taking off, roaring and squealing.

Here we go!

I walked into the hangar and turned the switch, and the door started lifting up, revealing the lustrous airplane that would be carrying us over 1,000 miles to our destination.

Ben Siepser
In the cockpit, where the view is always better.

I could barely see the end of the runway. We pulled the plane out of the hangar onto the tarmac so we could load all of our luggage into it. The fog seemed like it was getting thicker by the minute. Bag after bag was being loaded into the plane… how could it all even fit in there? Several minutes passed by as we piled our bags in. Finally we were ready to jump in the plane and take off. After buckling seatbelts and applying headsets, we were ready. I couldn’t wait.

“Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to leave,” my mom inquired as she looked at the weather forecast on her phone. I noted that her voice was very nervous sounding.

“No, it will be fine once we get to a high altitude,” my dad said reassuringly. The engine sputtered and then roared, then we started to roll onto the taxiway. I could feel the tension inside the cabin; everyone seemed a bit uneasy.

“Okay, you are cleared for takeoff; have a safe flight,” the air trafic controller replied on the radio. My dad did a quick check of all his controls and instruments and then lined up the little plane on the runway, nothing but fog in sight. We accelerated on the runway as the noise of the engine got louder and louder. Slowly the wheels lifted off the ground and soon after, the ground was overtaken by the fog. Nothing but fog, fog, and more fog. It took several minutes to gain enough altitude to escape the deep layer of haze.

“Hey, I think I can see the sun!”

“Oh yeah, I can see it too!” we all exclaimed. We slowly pulled out of the thick clouds. The sky was crystal clear, nothing but blue sky above us. A fluffy carpet of clouds beneath us. Just seven more hours until we would touch down on a nice beachy island in the Bahamas. After that eventful takeoff, I realized how my dad could handle stressful situations with ease. He comforted the family and urged us to leave.

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