Caribbean Conundrum

Having good intentions doesn't change the hard realities of real-world IFR flying. Sometimes it can make navigating the situation even more complex.


Watching the world upended by the pandemic, you felt useless not knowing how to help, despite desperately wanting to. Then you caught wind of the perfect opportunity: a humanitarian aid organization was organizing a GA airlift of personal  protective equipment to several islands in the Caribbean. Helping mankind … Caribbean … you quickly pledged the support of your trusty old Cessna 210.

That’s how you found yourself en route from Grand Turk to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands with your back seats replaced with a bunch of boxes containing masks and face shields. It has been a long day of flying after loading the cargo at Atlanta, and a mixture of awe and apprehension strike as the sun sets behind you halfway to St. Thomas. You’re in severe clear and the lack of moonlight over the water gives you the feeling of flying through outer space. However, receiving the St. Thomas ATIS is a bit less inspiring.

The field reports broken clouds at 2000, thunderstorms in the vicinity, and gusty winds, with the glideslope and PAPI out of service from construction. As San Juan Center clears you direct to TOURO for the ILS or LOC approach to Runway 10, you consider diverting to San Juan. However, you decide to continue since you know there’s going to be a news crew waiting to interview you upon arrival and you want to spread as much goodwill as possible (and give them a GA success story).

You’re surprised once again to note how light the controls feel in your hands after you click off the autopilot and descend into the darkness to begin the approach. You had expected that it would feel much more solid with all that weight in the back. No matter though, since you’re almost there. After passing JAQYY you catch sight of the runway lights peeking through the scud and breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully your headset hair isn’t going to be too terrible on camera. Do you think that you can you avoid adding any more links to this potential accident chain?

October 2020 Quiz

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