Posted October 2013
Seattle's been having a real fog problem for the past two weeks.
Visibility had been quarter-mile or less almost the entire
time. The Weather Guessers would say, "Ok, it'll clear off
tomorrow afternoon" but it never did. We live on the side
of the valley where my airport is at, and we hardly saw the
valley floor for the past two weeks.
Today was going to be different...they said. Today it was
actually going to *rain*, then clear off, and possibly some sun
in the afternoon.
In reality, it was foggy AND rainy when I got up today.
Oh, well. Put on the grubby clothes, slip on the shop
coat, and head out to the garage. Without recourse to
airplane, I've been building the wife a new computer desk.
The project is into the sanding stage. Belt sander to
knock the gross stuff off, then the finish sander with 220 grit
to flatten things out. Work for 45 minutes. Then the
Finish sander slows. Starts smelling. Starts puffing out
Unplug it, and it hangs at the end of its cord like a Bishops
censer, dribbling up a trail of smoke. Open the garage
door to set it on a piece of rock outside and finish burning
before putting it in the garbage. Hummm, not raining. Peek
around the end of the house. Hey, I can see the Cascade
foothills, twenty miles off. But I can also see fog banks
Drive down into town to see if I can find a replacement 1/3rd
sheet finish sander. Hey, pretty clear down here.
Drying up, too.
I get skunked at two tool shops and start heading home.
Still cloudy and nasty-looking overhead. But hey, it's
*clearing* in the west! Just a bit of blue sky, but....
What the heck. When I get home, I grab my RAF scarf and
leather jacket, and head for the airport. I almost turn
around halfway; I'd forgotten to grab my single-vision
non-tinted glasses. I hate flying with bifocals, and the
single-visions I keep in the car are sunglasses. It's
still awful dark, even with the bright sky to the west.
Oh, well...I'll fly with the bifocals. Open the hangar,
preflight, roll the airplane out... into sunshine. Still
dark skies overhead, but the sun is 90 minutes from setting, and
it's actually shining through the gap to the west.
On with the sunglasses, drop into the airplane, helmet and
gloves on, start the engine, and roll out the hangar row onto
With an unobstructed view, the sky is...interesting. The
cloud/clear interface is very definite, and it's shaped like an
arching bow from north to south.
For all the world, it looks like I'm inside a giant
eye...looking out as a sleepy behemoth sleepily squints at the
sun-lit world. Still dark and nasty overhead and to the
Runup OK, goggles down, full power, rotate. Gradual
180-degree turn after takeoff to head south again.
The giant-eye impression is even stronger. The Olympic
mountains shine in the sun fifty miles to the northwest, while
the Cascades still play high-and-seek in the fog fifteen miles
east. To the south, the eyelid curves towards the
ground...where I can see fog or some similar goop in the corner
of the eye.
I rise to 1500 feet and level off. Normally, I head
further East. But I reach the edge of the sunlit portion,
where the eyelid is down far enough to block the light.
It's dark and gloomy, in here. Ease back west again, into
South we continue, following the light/not light line cast by
the eyelid shadow.
Eventually, I see the goop in the corner of the eye is an
illusion; the cloud line continues south, and it was just the
buildup of the haze.
Back for some touch-and-goes. By the time I got done, the
giant was fully awake. The sky above the airport was
clear, though the view to the dark east was still as foreboding.
Just an illusion, of course. But jeeze, that was neat....