After making no-go decision on Friday due to freezing rain, we were anxious to get in the air today. Turns out the temperatures were favorable, with an inversion layer providing ice-free cruising at IFR altitudes above. We made sure that we had a solid alternate in the desert down south (KRDM) due to the ceilings near minimums for the approach back into The Dalles.
We filed and blasted off into the murk that was blanketing the valley and were consumed totally as we climbed through 1200′. Soon we were rewarded wih magnificant views as we climbed above the first layer at 3500′.
We had planned an extended route to allow for lower altitudes in case we found ourselves in cooler clouds above, but it turned out to be unecessary. Later on our descent into YKM we realized that the low IFR weather we had been expecting had mostly lifted. The coupled ILS approach was flown professionally by my student, who I’m sure enjoyed the autopilot’s help with the 35kt crosswind for the initial leg of the approach.
We renegotiated a more direct routing for the way back and blasted off on the Gromo 2 departure. Soon after leveling off we turned toward VECCU, the initial fix for the LDA 25 approach back into KDLS. This was to be the second of three approaches planned for this flight, and the automated weather told us that it was going to be close. Sure enough after a well executed approach we found ourselves at Decision Height still very much in the clouds. Up and away we went and headed south, quickly regaining the mostly clear skies on top. We negotiated to fly the GPS-A approach and soon we were diving back into the clouds in search of the runway below. This approach allows us to descend a little lower and that turned out to be just enough. We broke out right at the bottom and circled for the runway. There is no better feeling than breaking out of the clouds at the bottom of a well flown approach, it’s magic every time. All in all a glorious day flying with great views on top, wishing we could bring everyone along for the flight. Kudos to Wayne for a great flight and moving on to the last stage of his IFR training.