03 February 2010

Cloud Pools

Last week I scheduled a flight for this morning. That's always a risk, since I never know what the weather's going to be like if I schedule more than a couple days out. I've had four cancelled checkrides due to weather, maybe five, in the last couple of months.
This morning I woke to a little fog and chilly temperatures, but by nine here at the farm it was clear and sunny. I moved the tropical plants outside and headed up to the airport, which is about 19 miles away.
Halfway between here and the airport I entered a dense fog bank, and stayed in it all the way through the town of Liberty. The airport sits atop a low hill just north of the town, so I thought it might be clear, but no such luck. I was disappointed. I wrote up some paperwork and as I headed back out to the car, I looked up, and the sky cleared--a long, narrow strip of blue directly over the airport. Who am I to turn down such a sign from above? I ran back to the plane, got it started and taxied through fog to the end of the runway.
The fog was still dense on the ground, but right at the airport I could see blue above. Visibility was shot but only on the ground. I was above the fog bank within seconds of takeoff. Climbed up to about three thousand feet (two thousand above the ground), and took a look around.
To the north was a line of low clouds, clearly rising fog that was burning off as I watched. Ahead, to the east, it was clear. But just to my south, over Liberty and for several miles around and west, the ground was obscured by a layer of fog. From above, fog on the ground just looks like clouds, and as you fly directly over them, you can see the ground through the fog.
The fog was burning off, and broke up in patches as I was flying. As I was finishing up in the airport pattern at the end of the flight, I noticed the quarry that's about a mile south of the field. It's two big deep holes in the ground, not much more. Today the fog lingered in those holes, so that they were just two big cloud pools on the ground, slowly dissolving into the sky above. Gorgeous.
What a day for a flight.

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