Monday, January 28, 2008

Last Night, Around 1950 PST

Weather in California has been in the news lately, mainly L.A. and SFO. Lots of icing, snow, turbulence...not uncommon this time of year.

We got a call for a RDD to MCC flight and weather was above VFR at both locations. Reports of light icing and occasional moderate chop at all altitudes, airmets for light rime in clouds and precip...normal. Radar showed lots of light and medium greens with dark greens and yellow/orange in the mountains, to be expected. Winds aloft, SW at about 30...again, not uncommon.

This is in a KA200...

Flight south went smooth. Actually...smoooooth at altitude (150)! Waited on the ground for a couple of hours, crew brought back Chipotle burritos for dinner! Around 1900 PST I double checked the weather and radar showed light to medium greens moving northeast and out of the area, clear behind it along my route of flight. Occluded front was east of my route and the Low was northeast of RDD. Cold front was still showing between Arcata and Red Bluff and hadn't moved much all day.

Oakland Center gives me direct DIBLE for the ILS RWY 34 with a circle to RWY 16 at RDD due to strong SE winds gusting to 20+. Ceilings are 1600 BKN, vis is 10+...good for the circle. Get a descent down to 4000'. Around 4500 we hit a huge jolt and shot up. VSI hit 3000 fpm and we were tossed around quite a bit. Auto pilot comes off and I'm hand flying.

For the next 1 to 1.5 minutes we had one more huge jolt (nurse said he thought the plane was going to come apart) and my flight bag rose up to greet me at eye level then slammed into the co-pilot seat. I could hear stuff slamming around in back. Center, every helpful, kept asking me if I wanted a turn or a vector. All I could say was, "MODERATE....SEVERE...UP 3000, DOWN 3000!"

Center acknowledged and shut up. Unlike the moron who so kindly said, over the air, "You know you're saying that on the air??"

My reply?



Next thing I know I'm going down 3000 fpm through 3000 MSL. Terrain below is 300 - 600 AGL. I was at 220, flight idle, props max, trying like hard to get the airplane slowed down and/or climbing because the little math teacher in my head is saying, "Less than one minute to a crash landing."

I immediately told him to STFU as I wasn't dying tonight!

Another updraft, 3000 fpm (at least they were consistent) and I pop out at 5800 MSL into semi-clear air.

The ILS was only one dot off and the GS was nailed.

I asked RDD tower to turn up the lights and he said, "There ya go. Is that going to be too bright?"

I said, "That's the most beautiful thing I've seen today!"

He laughed and cleared me to land on RWY 34..."Winds calm."

My EFIS went teats up and spun so I shot the approach off the right side instruments (all those guys who looked at me funny when I told them to back up the approach in #2 radio and right side....well...)

We landed at RDD, my medic immediately puked. My nurse couldn't get out of the plane fast enough. I called maint and had them do a walk-around with me. We checked the EFIS, worked fine. Airplane was okay...built like a brick.

That's the worst I've ever been in and I flew freight in 402's for 4 years, then taught freight/402's for a year and a half, flew low-level for the USFS and did flight instruction.

My legs were like rubber for an hour afterwards. My medic was still crying this morning when she left for home and my nurse, also the Base Manager, went home last night and hasn't answered his phone.

So today I'm putting together my statement for the DO, gathering weather info (Thanks to those who responded to my thread/call for help!), and filing an internal report. Thursday is a conference call about the incident with Safety and the other pilots.

Needless to say, I'm still a bit shook. Really could have used a stiff drink last night but took a couple of muscle relaxer/sleep aids instead.

Anybody know the name of that truck driving school? Truckmasters I think it was....


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