Saturday, June 18, 2005

Today I got to the airport about 7:30AM. Winds were calm, but there was a line of clouds moving across the airport. They seemed to be really dark on the bottom and had lots of associated haze. I went up with the intention of flying to the north, but that's where the clouds were coming from. The ceiling was very low...less than 500 feet above the ground. I flew one pattern and landed with the intention of waiting to see if things would clear up.

As I tinkered with the plane, I noticed that the line of clouds seemed to get higher. They also seemed to dissipate in a line directly above the airport. By 8:30 I could see they were whispy white clouds with very little vertical activity because it was so early in the morning. I haven't done much flying near the clouds and I thought this would be a good opportunity to do so.

I took off and climbed, flying parallel to the line that where clouds seemed to be dissipating, staying clear for the most part. The bottoms of the clouds seemed to be about 1500 feet. The clouds coming in my direction were pretty dense, but were thinning out in the area where I was flying. It was so pretty that I wanted to take a picture. I turned on my camera only to find that my batteries were dead, even though I had just changed them for a freshly charged set (yeah, right). pictures. As I was flying about the clouds the feeling was surreal. They were constantly flowing and changing much more rapidly than is visible on the ground. It was really cool!

I circled around some of the rising portions, still climbing until I got above the tops, but always keeping visual reference to the ground. The tops of the highest clouds were about 2300 feet. After flying between and around the clouds for about 30 minutes, I finally gained enough courage to fly through the very outside tip of one of the clouds. As I entered the whiteness, I noticed that I could see completely through this cloud tip. I'm sure it would have been different had I flown right through the center, which would have been a definite no-no for safety reasons. The first thing I noticed was that the cloud was warmer than the air surrounding the clouds. In fact, I noticed it was much warmer flying over the clouds, probably due to sunlight reflecting off of them and back upward.

I left the clouds to the north and descended over some large fields, flying at about 200 feet above the ground from field to field, before turning back for the airport. On the way back I followed a train. I estimated his speed to be about 45MPH but because I could take shortcuts, I ended up flying past the engine just as I arrived at the airport. If only my camera was working, I turned around to meet the head of the train and it would have been a great shot! I entered the pattern and landed, but was wishing I had more time to fly. I got in an hour and flew about 42 miles. Maybe I can sneak out again tomorrow using Father's day as an excuse!


At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great page Rusty. Like the Pictures. Dean

At 4:55 AM, Blogger Rusty UL said...

Thanks Dean. Do you know that all the pictures are "clickable"? This means you can click on the photo to see a larger version. I hope you liked the one of you and your plane!

Glen "RustyUL" Weldon


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