Safety First

There are legal limits, structural limits and personal limits. It is important to know and respect each of these.

I’ve been planning a cross country flight for today at 3pm for about a week. I knew there was a chance of bad weather, but my fingers were crossed for that forecast to be false. Last night and this morning the weather forecast was calling for storms to begin around 2pm today. When I got off work and checked the weather, the forecast for storms had changed to be “thunderstorms in the area” around 5pm, and scattered clouds at 3,500 and winds at 10kts from 200 (runway 17 would work fine). Everything was good for a local flight, but the weather was too iffy to continue on my planned cross country. By the time I was supposed to leave for the airport I had a gut feeling that I should cancel my flight. The winds outside my window were considerably stronger than what the airport was reporting and the low clouds were zooming by at a really fast pace. While I would have loved to get the actual IFR time in, the prospect of dealing with the unpredictable winds while in those clouds was beyond my personal limitations. In addition to that, the winds were predicted to increase to 18-22knts from a 30′ crosswind at an airport known for a “washing machine” effect while on short final. Those increasing gusty crosswinds predicted, along with my mistrust of the stability of the AWOS report made me decide to wait for a better day to fly. I kept looking at the sky and cursing the weather, but I continued to be glad I made the decision to stay on the ground. I also later remembered that around 1pm we received a Charleston Weather Alert that a “down burst” was reported in Summerville, approximately 30 miles from here. My flight was 2 hours later, but that was enough confirmation for me.

Yep. I’m glad I listened to my gut. I may have had a nice flight with some actual IFR time and great crosswind practice, but the reported winds and forecast were pushing the limits of my personal limits. A good pilot knows legal limits, but a great pilot also knows and respects personal limits.

“It’s always better to be down on the ground wishing you were up in the air than up in the air wishing you were down on the ground”


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