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Parent’s Weekend in San Luis Obispo – Weather Flying

October, 2010

The weather was supposed to be good for the weekend of October 16, so my wife Betsy and I were looking forward to going down to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to visit our daughter for the first time since she started school as a freshman.   She likes to climb and since we’d have a car, we planned on taking her and some friends out to Bishop’s peak for some rock climbing.

Wouldn’t you know it, but a “cutoff low” storm system started to wander around the state, and finally parked itself off the central California coast.  San Luis Obispo was clear as we took off, but half way there the field essentially went IFR with a ceiling of 1,200 with hills all around.  Betsy, to put it mildly, does not like to fly in clouds.  In fact she never has – until that day.  I hated to do it to her, but the safest way to get into to SLO was to do an approach through the clouds.  Legally it was VFR and to the south there were some broken/scattered clouds so it may have been possible to scud run in, but not safe especially since I don’t know the area.

The approach into the clouds at the coast was right at sunset and it was spectacular.  I wish I could have taken some photos, but it was far better to keep my focus on the airplane and Betsy.

The cutoff low hung around and also bothered us on the Sunday return, even to the point of bringing strong thunder and lightning.   Luckily that passed and it cleared up enough to get out.  Still, Betsy wanted no part of running into clouds so she rented a car and started driving.  I took off and, of course, could have easily stayed out of the clouds and VFR.  For practice I stayed in the IFR system and did some IMC time (in clouds).  Then over the central valley it cleared up, so I spent some time with my books trying to find an AVIS rental car place that would take the rental car.  I found one in Modesto, so I texted Betsy, diverted to land, and we met there to return the car and fly the rest of the way home – with no clouds…

Moments from Entering Clouds

Sunset near Modesto

Rainbow in Flight

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