Flight Instructor Story
Yesterday I was on a flight with a student for her 150 nautical miles, a requirement for the Canadian private pilot licence. For this particular flight, I ask my student to do me a weather briefing and I let them decide whether we go or not.
So for her It was a go. So we did.
Climb up to 5500' heading south west to Edmunstun N-B, weather was great, no turbulence. We do have these days a low visibility environment in flight due to forest fires in the west. But we've dealt with it for a week now.
Suddenly sky coverage below start to get cloudy, from a few clouds to scattered... overcast on the left of the plane. The way we navigate is by using good old chart and landmark on the ground. So she start to have a hard time finding her checkpoint and that is when my fun begin 😂
So? what do we do? we continue over not nothing if we can go down somewhere or we check if we can go under?
We can go under?
I don't know, what is the ground level and what is our minimum obstacle clearance altitude?
euh... Down the valley it is around 400' an the mountain around is at 1400' and 1700'
Alright let's go down see what is the base altitude of the cloud, see if we can continu under in the valley, if it's a clear path we'll continu, or we'll go back, or we land on the strip right next to us and we wait for nicer weather.
Like there is no better way to teach the diversion exercise then when you have to do one for real.
She started a descent a bit to aggressively, so I had to bring the point ;
Hey hey take it easy, it is nice weather up here, we want to go down safely, so take your time, there is no rush to hit the ground. Just stay out of the cloud and away from the terrain.
So we went down to 1300' feet and it wasn't looking good ahead, so either we were going back, or landing at the airport just below. But as we pass over the airport I saw tent, VR, People on the taxi way.
So I ask her,
Have you check the NOTAM enroute?
A NOTAM is a Notice to Airman to alert aircraft pilots of any hazards en route or at a specific location.
So luckily someone from the airport answered to my call:
Hi, Cesna 172 C-GABC, we are over the field 1300' and you guys look to have a party down there, is the runway is open? can we land?
The guy laught
Yeah it's our RC festival, but the strip is open, all traffic is on the ground, you can land, wind are from 160 at 8
Thank we will proceed downwind for runway 16
She did a great job at landing in an unknown airport with little to no preparation. And she also had her 5 seconds of fame landing in front of 300 eyes passionate of RC plane 😂
The Organisation was really nice to us, offering us coffee and donuts and the access to their festival which was really impressive. It wasn't a cheap back country festival. It was THE East Canadian RC plane festival, there was over than 20 RC plane equipped with turbine engine, about the same amount of helicopter. There were over than 200 participants and visitor where arriving slowly as the day was just starting.
I was really impress.
Here is the sounds of a little jet
After about an hour, the weather got better and we were good to go. The rest of the ride went smooth. My student was happy, felt like she learned a lot. I'm grateful to life to bring me those satisfaction feeling.
But on top of everything, I can strike off my bucket list ; Crashing into an RC plane festival with a real plane 😂