East Coast Flying

East Coast Flying



Posted by Aaron Harrington on March 9, 2013 at 8:15 PM

All of us, one time or another, are going to make a mistake. It might be a big one or a little one, but its gonna happen. Today, I had my little mistake. I am currenly working on getting my IFR rating and only have about 6 hours of simulated instrument time left before he checkride. So today, I set off with Shannon and Mike on a cross country trip to KUNV, State College Airport at Penn State University. It couldn't have been a more perfect VFR day, I was dissapointed i'd be under 'the hood' for the whole trip as I've never flown up that way before and it was as severe clear as clear could be. Even the winds at 6000ft were less than 10 kts.

I have a habbit (a good one) that every time I go flying, I always get a weather briefing, and check the NOTAMS. This usually comes in a few different forms. On really nice days, i'll generally use CSC DUATS to check the weather and will browse the briefing before setting out. On days where the weather is a little more....interesting, i'll call Flight Service and talk with a briefer.  Well, today, because of the amazingly beautiful weather, I guess I was being a little more 'care free' and although I did get a DUATS briefing, I was not as thorough as I should have been. I checked the METARS, weather at State College was unlimited visibility, sky clear, winds calm, temperature about 55 degrees. Wow! You couldn't ask for better than that. AND it was forecast to stay that way aaaallllll day. Winds at altitude were less than 10 knots too! So I kind of browsed over the rest of the briefing, noting how beautiful the weather was and then moved on down to the various NOTAMS. I scrolled and scrolled through the typical stuff: 

!DCA 01/367 0W3 AIRSPACE TFR SEE FDC 1/1155 ZDC 99.7

!CXY 03/001 CXY OBST TOWER 2033 (723 AGL) 7.8 N LGTS OTS (ASR 1040042) TIL 1303161418


and so, not really seeing anything out of the ordinary I moved on to checking the FAA's TFR website for any TFR's (since trying to decipher a RAW TFR NOTAM is nearly impossible) but found nothing. I was so excited, this was going to be a great flight.

Well, there was one very important NOTAM that I completely missed. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of lines of NOTAM text showing runway lights OTS and unlight towers, I missed a single line

!UNV 03/006 UNV NAV ILS RWY 24 LLZ OTS WEF 1303091319

this, I would not discover until approximately 30 miles out from my destination.... So we all departed, put in the flight plan, climbed up to 4,500 ft, got flight following and chit-chatted all the way up to State College. Mike and I briefed the approach, ILS runway 24, approximately 40-50 miles out and were all set up. Unfortunately, at 4,500 ft, we were unable to receive the ATIS until about 25-30 miles from the airport but what I heard over the ATIS left me scrambling to brief and ready the RNAV GPS approach to runway 24 instead. "ILS Runway 24 out of service"  WHAT?! So there ya go. There was my mistake. It wasnt a huge deal because it was severe clear VFR, but what could have happend? What If this was a real IFR flight? What if the weather was below GPS approach minimums? What if I was flying a plane that didnt have RNAV approach capabilities? All sorts of interesting situations could have occured. I was lucky, because I was able to do the RNAV approach, but you better believe im going to be more careful next time. So even seeing that NOTAM text, you still might not know what it means. check it out, it looks rather confusing --> !UNV 03/006 UNV NAV ILS RWY 24 LLZ OTS WEF 1303091319

Let me translate

Navigation ILS runway24 localizer out of service effective from March 09th, 2013 at 09:19 AM EDT

So moral of the story? Check ALL the NOTAMS next time.


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