The forecast yesterday morning was awesome, high overcast and light winds, my favorite sort of day. I’m not a big fan of the blazing sunshine. It burns my retinas and makes things on the ground difficult to see as animals are hidden in the shadows of trees, rocks, and ridges. We departed at first light and headed South down the coast under an 8000′ ceiling. We were going to be working near Kalgin Island in the Cook Inlet. The flight was beautiful as we watched the sun rise on this short December day. No sooner had we reached our working area than a couple of teeny tiny rain droplets hit my windscreen. The sort of rain that is so light you would not even notice it in June or July, just itty-bitty little droplets of water. But with 6 tiny rain drops on my windscreen I immediately checked the outside air temperature … 28 degrees, bummer.
The rain began to increase slightly and each droplet would slide up the windscreen about 4″ and then freeze tight. With each following rain drop a bridge begins to build at the freezing point where the defroster can no longer keep up. The “stay and linger” vs. “tuck tail and run” decision is really a no brainer in Decemeber on the coast at 28 degrees. We departed the premises accomplishing nearly nothing. We only counted 37 moose in our short survey. As we left the area it was obvious the rain was moving in, as it took us nearly 20 minutes to fly out of it. Today, the schools in South Central Alaska were closed because of freezing rain. It’s some nasty stuff and it’s always surprising how quickly it builds on all surfaces of an aircraft. I’m glad we went home and ate nachos….but the sunrise sure was nice.
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