Sunday, February 26, 2006

Decision making

I really wanted to fly yesterday. I re-arranged the appointment with the tax guy just to free up the day so I could fly down to Richmond, KY for an RV fly-in. The weather in the morning looked great: clear, sparkly sky, light winds, and temps just above prohibitively cold. The bad news? Forecasts for winds out of the north at 16 gusting 23. Damn. I might have gone ahead with the Tampico, but I'm just not ready for winds like that in the RV. Or am I? I've had some pretty decent crosswind landings at winds speeds in the mid to high teens, and 16 gusting 23 is that much more. I could probably do it. And hey, forecasts are often wrong. Those fearful winds might not even develop!

Still, I have my personal comfort zone, and even though I intend to expand it to some day include windier than average days, I'd prefer to work my way up to it, and do it solo rather than with a trusting passenger. I finally decided not to risk it and scrubbed the trip.

The problem with decisions like this comes from the aforementioned occasional inaccuracy in the forecasts. I've canceled flights based on an unfriendly forecast before, only to be frustrated when the weather never arrives. It almost becomes a case of hoping the weather does what it was expected to do in order to vindicate the decision to stay home. This time I think events showed that I made the correct decision:

- The day didn't go without a couple of 'close calls'. One RV4 driver got hit by a nasty wind gust while landing and nosed it into the runway. The gear collapsed as all eyes watched in amazement. It skidded to it's left into the grass as the gear tucked under the belly like a couple of twisted pipe cleaners. No one on board was hurt but the plane was badly bruised. The engine mount sheared on both sides and the firewall and forward fuse were badly crimpled.

This report comes from a guy that was there. Whle I think it's terrible that someone had this accident (and I'm thankful that they weren't hurt!), it does tend to validate my decision to forego the trip and wait for more favorable conditions. There's no schadenfreude here, it's simply a reminder that the go/no-go decision should never, ever be swayed by the desire to make any given trip. As much as I would like to have gone yesterday, I feel pretty good today knowing that my beloved airplane is safe and sound in her hangar, not twisted and bent, lying on a flatbed trailer waiting for extensive and expensive repairs.

1 comment:

  1. I, as most pilots, always find that "no-go" is the hardest decision. Glad to hear no one was injured, and that 466 is home and in one piece.