Touch and go as to whether or not the fog will lift for Saturday’s lesson. I lost the first block – but though it is still thick fog in Newport it is apparently clearing at the airport. I drive in for the second block. It is hazy and my instructor and I carefully look through the weather. The satellite shows we are sitting in a growing hole as it burns off – but there is a bank of sea fog to the south – pressing against the coast. Visibility everywhere else is varying up and down in 5 mile increments. We decide to play safe and stay in the pattern at Providence. Making short fields on Providence’s enormous runways seems a bit silly – but we will be close to home if the weather turns sour.
We go out and pre-flight. Then we start up. It is a nice gentle breeze Saturday for flying but we can see the coastal fog on the horizon. We get clearance for traffic in the pattern and are cleared to hold short at runway 16. We wait a moment or two – my instructor keeps looking at the fog on the horizon. Is it nearer the tree line?
I’m cleared for takeoff and I line up, correct for wind angle, everything green and throttle up – I get the plane in the air and we briefly discuss the aileron correction I used. I look ahead and a line of fog is blotting out the tree line and rapidly advancing on the field.
“Providence Tower – Tree Sierra Papa – we will make this a full stop and return to the ramp” I call as I turn crosswind. To my instructor – “We are going home”. “Good Call” he says.
“Three Sierra Papa” cleared to land runway 16” from the tower. I’m turning downwind and not even climbing to full pattern altitude. We just need to get down.
“Providence Tower – Tree Sierra Papa – midfield downwind 16” I call.
“Tree Sierra Papa cleared to land Runway 16” and then in the background in the tower we hear alarms going off – “All Providence Traffic – Wind Shear Alert landing end of Runway 16. 20 knot decrease”.
I’m throttling back, smacking the flaps in and turning base. “Keep it tight” says the instructor. I’m turning straight to final and power off to drop her in and tell him I’ll only use flaps 20 and land fast. I’m doing the math in my head. A 20 knot wind drop on landing at 65knots means we need to be landing 85 knots in case the wind disappears. Tower are on again – we can still hear the alarms and they are calling the wind shear alert again. I’m lining up.
Everything seems normal about the landing. I’m correcting for crosswind – flying it down a bit faster than normal and I can see the windsock standing out a bit more as the wind accelerates the fog bank towards us. Tower call the wind shear alert again. The alarms are still audible in the background as they call. I’m nearly down. I’m at 80 knots over the runway when I am usually at 65. I start to flare. “get her down” from the instructor. A mixture of – you are a bit early in the flare but this is one of those occasions when you plant her. I do. We get off at taxiway Mike.
“Taxi Mike, Bravo, stay with me this frequency” from the tower. We taxi in and shut down. The wind is gusting and a layer of cloud is across the field at about 500ft blotting out the sky that was bright blue 5 mins ago.
One of the other school planes was caught over Scituate has to abandon the lesson and get special VFR clearance to get back down. The other school plane is up at North Central somewhere. Hopefully he got down there.
We go in – My lesson scores a very hard to get “Excellent” and there is a short write up put in the notes section about excellent Aeronautical Decision Making.
My cheapest (and shortest) ever flying lesson! But a great lesson.