When last we left our intrepid, daring, young, fearless and yes, devilishly hansom heroes they had just made a foolish mistake based on nothing more than their selfish desire not to spend the winter in Siberia.
The flight up the Kamchatka peninsula, yes the one in RISK, was beautiful but Marcio and I had a hard time enjoying it with the weather in Anadyr hanging over our heads. Thirty minutes after passing the point of no return we checked the weather again and were told that the ceilings had dropped another hundred feet. Neither Marcio or I reacted to the news, outwardly at least. We knew that the weather suddenly changing so quickly meant that the forecast was wrong. The low clouds and rain were early and we were screwed.
As we got closer to Anadyr the weather reports got worse while the sun sank lower. By the time we were with in twenty minutes of the airport the clouds were down to two hundred feet and the visibility was a dismal three quarters of a mile, right at minimums for the ILS approach and getting worse. Marcio was flying that leg so it would be my job to count down our altitude for the last thousand feet and watch out the windscreen for runway lights. We knew the weather was only going to get worse so our plan was to land on the first attempt, no matter what.
Then things got worse,
“November 777BF be advised that the runway lights will NOT be available.”
“Oh shit!” I said, as the radio call from the control tower came in. Without runway lights we would only have the landing lights to guide us in to the runway, at night, did I mention it was freaking DARK! Needless to say we made it clear to the tower that lights would be oh so helpful and would they be so kind as to endeavor to illuminate said strip of concrete so that we may make a landing without putting too big of a divot in the surface, please? Or something to that effect. I don’t know if they’d been trying to save electricity or what but they informed us that the lights were indeed lit.
As we began the approach tower informed us that the ceilings were variable below two hundred feet and the visibility at around half a mile and dropping. I really didn’t want to leave the clear late evening sky with the full moon shining on the mountain tops poking out from the clouds but that’s why they pay us the big bucks so down we went. Things got black in a hurry and as we dropped below one thousand feet in began counting down by hundreds.
900 800 700 600 500 400 300, I risked a quick glance out the windscreen but saw nothing but black, 200 feet missed approach point, still nothing, wait…
“I’ve got the runway.” I said as the green and yellow lights appeared out of the mist and rain. We were under one hundred fifty feet and I estimated the visibility at around one quarter mile. Piece of cake. The hardest part was trying to find the ramp and then some dinner. Afterwards over a bottle of Siberia’s finest wine and some microwaved non-microwaveable pizza Marcio asked me if I had been scared. I told him no and quoted him the old saying “If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs, it’s just possible you haven’t grasped the situation.”