Weather in Seattle is strange.
Sure, it rains much of the winter. But when it does clear up, we
tend to get ground fog. It's like the clouds just don't want to
turn us loose. The fog will go up a few hundred feet, then it's
bright blue and clear above.
But...it's a pain when the airport with your airplane are under those
few hundred feet of puffiness.
Some days, the fog *does*
go away. The weather warms up, or a nice breeze swings by
to blow the big dirty mass away.
That's what happened a week or so ago. Morning was fogged in,
then a northwest breeze sprang up and the valley cleared out. I
had just completed the new seat backrest, and was eager to give it a
try. Out to the airport, mount up, and launch.
Climbing to 1500 feet, I noticed the fog hadn't actually gone
away. The wind had blown it a few miles south. I turned
that way, curious. I could see the tops were just at 1200 feel
MSL (about 700 AGL) and the top of the bank looked fairly smooth.
I thought...just for a moment...about trying to shoot some
touch-and-goes on the tops. But there was always that nasty
little bit of FARs warning me away.
As I got closer, I realized the top wasn't as table-smooth as I
thought. It looked lumpy, like a herd of ghostly-white elephants
slowly trudging away downwind.
But then I noticed the stragglers. There were a couple clumps of
cloud, lagging the herd by a half-mile or so. They looked like a
pair of rambunctious calves, still frolicking away as their elders
walked heads-down, unseeing.
Unbidden, the Fly Baby arched over to meet one. I flew by...and
realized that the lump of cloud was thin enough to see through. I
could see the Cascade range, ten miles away, through the mist.
Surely, the cloud clearance rules refer to *visibility*...?
So the calf got itself a noisy new playmate.
I zipped around it a few times, mist whipping past, giving the feeling
of tremendous speed. You don't feel it that often, except when
landing when your senses are attuned to something else.
I cut through a thinner section, marveling of the lack of physical
sensation. It seems like the air should feel wetter, that the
shriek of the wires should vary, my cheeks get colder, or that the nose
should tell of some scent or the other. But nothing; it was like
flying through any other batch of 14.7 PSI air, but for the shreds of
white whipping past.
It felt...I hate to say this...no different that flying through a cloud
in a closed-cabin aircraft. The coat, the gloves, the goggles
seemed to isolate me from the new playmate the same way plexiglass and
We didn't play for long. I had other things to check out, other
things to do. So a quick last salute, wing up, and head to the
As I flew away, I looked over my shoulder at my late playmate. No
angry momma had come out from the cloud-herd to collect him. He
was sailing along, alone. Looking...well, looking a bit lonely.
I hope he's OK. :-)