A Solid Plan Gone Awry
Flying|July 2017

Almost Succumbing to “get-there-itis”

Steven R. Deignan-Schmidt
Flying is the only magazine I subscribe to. I always make a point of reading each issue front to back, although sometimes out of order, and I’m always eager to read the stories in the I Learned about Flying from That column. Now I have my own story to tell of a recent adventure — or rather, misadventure — that involved flying a Piper Cherokee 140 to Brunswick, Maine, on business from my home airport in Groton, Connecticut. I learned many lessons on this flight.

The first was never to take a two-day forecast at face value. I had decided two days in advance against a morning departure for my trip because the forecast was bad. I noticed midmorning the day of my trip that the weather was great and would have permitted a morning departure if only I’d left earlier. I had succumbed to tunnel vision. As a result, I was stuck with my original plan of departing in the evening after an approaching cold front cleared the area.

I was feeling antsy when I departed Groton at around 5:30 p.m. I had planned for a handful of alternates in the days leading up to my flight. In the event I couldn’t make it to my destination of Brunswick Executive Airport (KBXM), which I knew had taxi service available until 1 a.m., I could land in Portland, Maine, and take a bus, cab or train (or rent a car). Another option would be to land in Auburn, Maine, and take a cab. I felt as though I was giving myself plenty of options.

Given my planning, and the fact that I expected a late arrival due to the weather, I wasn’t really surprised when ATC advised upon my hand off to Portland Approach that the weather at my destination was IFR. Being a non-instrument-rated pilot, I had to decline the controller’s offer for an IFR clearance. Since I’d planned for a potential stop due to weather anyway, I told the controller I’d land at KPSM in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and wait for the weather to clear.

I’d landed at KPSM roughly a year earlier to attend a conference in York, Maine. I recalled that the folks at Port City Air were very friendly; I had even been given some complimentary pizza during my visit. Anyway, the TAF called for scattered clouds at 5,000 feet by 10 p.m., so my plan was to hang out at Port City Air until the weather improved — the FBO stayed open until midnight — and continue on my way. Since cab service was available until 1 a.m. in Brunswick, I knew I could touch own as late at 12:30 a.m. if necessary.

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