Phenom Trip Day Seven


The weather could technically be called “shitty” when Marcio and I departed Khabarovsk.  We were in the clouds and icing almost immediately after takeoff.  The published departure called for a left hand turn after take off and I was following the procedure when ATC called and asked what in the hell I was doing.  When I informed them that I was following the departure the controller screamed at me to reverse my turn because I was supposed to turn right after takeoff.  Not wanting to argue with the man while in the clouds I dutifully reversed my turn and held my tongue.  It wasn’t twenty seconds later when the controller came back on and again asked what in the hell I was doing?  He said I was supposed to make a LEFT turn after takeoff, did I not know the proper procedure?!  At this point I was starting to get just a bit miffed but was suddenly too busy to care because just then the pressurization system failed again and Marcio told me to put my O2 mask on while he tried to fix the problem.  I put the mask on, finished the turn and engaged the auto pilot.  Hell of a way to start the day.

  When we landed in Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula fours later I couldn’t take pictures fast enough.  Along both sides of the runway were hundreds of Russian military aircraft of every design.  Weird looking transports, helicopters and fighters were parked along side hardened camouflaged hangers.  I couldn’t help but remember that just a few short years ago when I was in the ARMY I probably would have been shot as a spy if I’d landed there.

We went up to the control tower to check weather while the Phenom was being fueled and got some bad news.  The controller told us that the weather in Anadyr was marginal and was forecast to get worse.  The forecast called for very low ceilings and visibility to close down the airport in six hours and would probably remain that way for up to a week.  We had a big decision to make.  Anadyr is located far north on the Bearing sea and there are no other airports anywhere near it to divert to in the event that we couldn’t get in.  If we elected to go we would be committed once we passed the point of no return.  But if we stayed we could be stuck in Petropavlovsk for god knows how long.  We decided to give it a shot.  Our plan was to call for a weather update when we approached the point of no return.  If the weather was good we would press on, if not, it would be back to Petropavlovsk and some of that wonderful Russian vodka.

A neat thing about the Phenom is the range circle on the Navigation display.  The computer factors in winds aloft, airspeed, fuel burn and fuel on board to display a max range circle on the moving map that lets you know just how far you can fly before running out of fuel.  It was really helpful to see the range circle expand when you throttled back to the max range setting.   With the range circle showing us approaching the point of no return Marcio called for a weather update.  The report was exactly what we didn’t want to hear.   The clouds were down to four hundred feet and three miles visibility.   The trend was  for the weather getting worse but it so far we could still get in.  I would rather it was complete dog shit or beautiful sky, not this maybe stuff.  Neither Marcio or I said anything for a few minutes, both of us thinking about the ramifications of turning back or pushing on.  In our favor was the fact that even if we wouldn’t have enough fuel to divert to another airfield if the weather got bad we would have enough for three or four landing attempts before things got quiet.   Not wanting to be stuck in Siberia for two weeks and trusting the Phenom Marcio and I decided to press on, after all what could possibly go wrong?


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