Sunday, April 30, 2017

A Turbulent Flight I hope Never To Repeat

It's late in the month and I hate not to have written a blog. Reflecting on some of my past "challenging" flights brings back a flight from Albermarle, NC back to Rock Hill, SC. about a 60 mile flight. For a short while in 2000, I commuted to work at the hospital in Stanley County and back each evening to Charlotte and my hangar in Rock Hill SC. Normally, it should take about 25 minutes or so in the Bonanza, depending on the wind. It was the end of a workday, about 1800 hours, weather was VFR on departure. There was some frontal activity to the southwest, but nothing forecast on my route home.

Well things can change rapidly weather wise, and it sure did that day. Soon after departure I got into some widely scattered clouds and a moderate head wind but otherwise all was cool. Then suddenly it started to get a bit bouncy, light turbulence. I was at 3000 feet but getting jostled up and down a bit with my altitude starting to vary between 2500 and 3500 feet. The turbulence was so great at one time that I could barely read the instruments.  I called Charlotte approach but they didn't have much to say, just some complaints of light to moderate turbulence in the area.

Well that changed quickly as I hit some "moderate" turbulence that nearly flipped the plane 90 degrees over on a wing. This continued causing me concern and forcing me to throttle back to safe cruise speed just above stall. This lessened the severity of the turbulent flight but also meant I was in it longer. Contacting approach control again, no real help offered. As I was getting fairly close to Rock Hill, I kept on flying at just above stall.

Fortunately, everything stayed put. Nothing damaged by the horrific gusts and turbulence.  When I finally arrived at Rock Hill and parked in front of the hangar, and all shut down. I breathed a big sigh of relief. I don't remember ever having been in such turbulence for such a long time, and hope never to be again.