by Charles Gulick
|North Position: 15402||Rudder: 32767|
|East Position: 5955||Ailerons: 32767|
|Altitude: 296||Flaps: 0|
|Pitch: 0||Elevators: 32767|
|Bank: 0||Time: 7:45|
|Heading: 190||Season: 1-Winter|
|Airspeed: 0||Wind: 2 kts, 180|
Add for this mode:
Cloud Layer 2: Tops, 5000; Bottoms, 2000
Cloud Layer 1: Tops, 1500; Bottoms, 300
sure to check heading when you exit edit mode. And do not read this
mode before you fly it. You'll spoil all the fun.
This had to happen to you, on a day when even the birds are grounded. The whole Los Angeles area is socked in so bad not even the flags are flying.
But on Catalina Island-way out there in the Pacific Ocean, somewhere out there in this potato soup, a little golden-haired girl is desperately ill. She's been bitten by a rare type of Pacific tick. Without a special serum available only here on the mainland, she may not live another 12 hours.
No pilot in his right mind would dream of flying serum to Catalina in weather like this. So they turned to you.
And how could you refuse a little golden-haired girl the chance of life?
Yes, you'd go.
So here you are at El Monte Airport. (Regard your radar as disabled for this flight.)
You know you're lined up okay for takeoff, because you went out and got down on your hands and knees with a special fog flashlight to find the centerline. You're somewhere near it. You know the runway heading is 190, and how to take off, because you've done it on lots of sunny days. You know there's a little thousand-foot slot between the cloud layers, and that from 5000 feet on up the ceiling's unlimited. You also know that from 1500 feet on down to 300 feet the overcast is unlimited.
You know still more. You know that Catalina has Santa Catalina OMNI, and you can tune it on 111.4. In addition, you know that there are two ambulances waiting for you on the island, though you can't imagine why they'd have two. And, finally, you know that the little golden-haired girl has said she'd even give you her dolly if you ever get there with the serum.
|So, climb in the airplane. If
you can find the door. (This stuff's so thick even the density altitude
must have doubled.)
|Set your NAV to Santa Catalina
OMNI and get a heading. (Almost the runway heading, hmm? Every little
Take off in the normal manner. (The altimeter tells you that you did, else who'd ever know?) If things seem a little bleak, note that nice blue over the red on the artificial horizon.
|You'll be looking for that
thousand-foot slot between the layers. But will you see it?
When you do see it, it isn't all that inviting after all. The deepest blue you ever saw.
|Might as well climb on up to
five. Ah, now that's a blue! Why not level
off at 5500? This part of the ride, at least, will be nifty.
Now, as the miles tick by, you can start thinking about what you'll do when you get to Catalina. One thing is sure: If it's as socked in as El Monte, you'll never find the runway. So what are you doing up here in the first place? Even Spencer Tracy wouldn't get himself in a mess like this.
Should you turn around and go back? But to what? Takeoff is one thing. Landing is a whole other ball game. Why are you here? Where's your common sense? Where's your logic? Do you have even a prayer of getting out of this thing alive?
What to do when you get to Catalina? What a joke. You might as well be going to Tibet.
Well, let's figure how to make the best of a really rotten situation.
We're on the beam for Catalina. At the very worst, we might make a blind landing wherever on the island we happen to come down. Just let down and follow the needle and make a normal landing in the soup, just about at zero DME. We'd almost surely hit-I mean reach-the island if we plan on zero DME. That's the ace-in-the-hole.
|Why not let down now and fly in
the black slot? Just above the clouds.
We'll be at a lower altitude and can time the letdown easier. Black
sky's no worse than blue sky in this monstrosity. Yes, descend to 1900.
Keep that needle centered. Last thing you want to do is get off course. Want to head strrrraight for that island as a bare minimum.
Come to think of it, now, if Catalina's at 1602 feet, and we're at 1900, we're only about 300 feet above Catalina's elevation. Now isn't that interesting! That means if this altitude-clouds thing is legit, we ought to be able to see Catalina sticking up out of the clouds. The tops of the bottom layer of clouds are below the Catalina elevation.
So, if the island's sitting there above the clouds, we go ahead and make a landing.
And if the airport isn't sticking up out of the clouds when we're a few miles out, the only thing to do is make our best possible slow landing straight ahead, blind, and on our heading. And hope. At zero DME or as close to that as possible.
And those, dear reader, are the best possible solutions in light of all the circumstances.
Please believe I wouldn't ask you to do anything I wouldn't do. And I assure you I made exactly the flight described herein. What's more, without looking at radar until I was on the ground, I landed safely on Catalina (okay, yeah, the island) the first time I made the flight. And I can prove it. A little golden-haired girl is alive today solely because of my heroism.