Without those tools it’s important to get on the ground or find a route out of the activity if buildups start growing around you, because air mass storms often grow as clusters and the open spaces will quickly close in. If you don’t think air mass storms are a problem, check out our August 2018 issue that details two seemingly benign air mass storms: one that downed a Piper PA-23, and another that downed a Boeing 727.
Making Do — Subscribers Only
There are a few things in flying life we might take for granted. In fact, some of us are downright spoiled. For instance, flatlanders (like me) get 99.9 percent radar coverage in our mountain-free region, all taken for granted. Southerners take for granted their three seasons of comfortable flying. Those who fly to larger cities all the time definitely take for granted the big runways, ATC help, and all the information they need at their fingertips.
A shop near me has a good reputation for quality avionics installations. Their bid came in a good deal under the bid from Executive Autopilots, but it’s essentially a one-man shop and that raises some potential longer-term concerns. I also have an acquaintance who flies a 340 and he recently had the GFC 600 autopilot installed by his local shop, also a high-end shop with a superb reputation and all kinds of capabilities. I had them bid it and their bid came in competitive with Executive Autopilots.
As we move forward in time with the proliferation of LPV approaches, the phaseout of non-precision approaches using ground-based navaids such as VOR, NDB, and LOC-only will result in fewer and fewer non-precision approaches. Furthermore, some WAAS navigators often provide an advisory glideslope to non-precision RNAV approaches: LNAV+V and LP+V. The “+V” refers to the advisory glideslope. An LP (localizer performance) approach is a non-precision RNAV approach that requires WAAS. Bottom line: there is almost always an electronic glideslope lurking in the shadows.
This is a long flight, so you want to minimize distance and go as direct as possible. You scan the route from TAFOY to KFSM on the chart, and it doesn’t pass through any special use airspace (SUA), so you could go direct. But, you want to comply with the AIM guidance (see below) and pick a fix or two in each center’s airspace. You zoom in on the chart to see TAFOY clearly, then just scroll the chart to the east along your route, looking for fixes on your route that you could add.
Before you get a contact approach, some more boxes need to be checked, starting with weather minimums on par with Special VFR and Class G airspace. AIM 5-4-25 kicks off with them: “Pilots operating in accordance with an IFR flight plan, provided they are clear of clouds and have at least one mile flight visibility and can reasonably expect to continue to the destination airport in those conditions, may request ATC authorization for a contact approach.”