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Scud Running

Fly safe. I want this thing to land l...
EGPF Glasgow

I know someone who flew through the arc of a wind turbine, and it wasn’t in the USA, either.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

And was it rotating at the time?

Egnm, United Kingdom

Let’s guess the pilot was doing 140 knots – 70 metres/second or thereabouts – in an aircraft 7 metres long. 1/10 of a second to transit the disc of the turbine if flying perpendicular to it. If the turbine is doing 20rpm (1 rev every 3 seconds, 3 blades) I’d guesstimate your chances of making it through intact should actually be pretty good.

Scud Running – how far will you go?

On Monday morning I had to go to my office in the Czech Republic. Weather forecast was good but, as many times, it wasn’t that good after all when i checked again at 6 a.m.. IFR was not really an option because the area where our company is in Bohemia (between Pilsen and Prague) was under a solid cloud layer and I would have had no chance to get below the clouds after cancelling IFR (no, Achim, I still don’t do it ;-)) …

So i took off VFR and stayed under the cloud layer in 2500 ft, knowing that the Bavarian/Bohemian forst mountains at the border between Germany and CZ would be the key point.

Sometimes there’s simply no way through, and I remember flying along the mountain range for an hour in my Piper Warrior before I would find a way through. The last time was in the spring of 2013 when I tried several of the valleys, entered them, only to turn back and try the next one … I managed the 4th time.

With the Warrior that’s a much easier thing to do than in the Cirrus. I would slow down (i mean slow down from slow :-), put in Flaps 10 and stay on one side of the valley, always with a way out. With 80 knots the radius would be small and also a Warrior (or 172) you can really turn around almost on the spot if necessary. I used to practice the “Box Canyon Turn” I had found in some Bush Flying book, and it was simple to do in the Warrior: Slow down to 70, put in full flaps, hold altitude almost down to stall speed. Then give it full power and with a full left (left works better than right) rudder input turn it around. With the very docile Warrior (After practicing at altitude!) the BCT was no big deal, but pretty spectacular!

Now with the Cirrus I would not dare to do that stunt. And even flying slower than 100, or maybe 90, the plane feels pretty mushy, it’s simply not the low level bush plane …

Back to this Monday: With the help of my EGPWS (TWAS) system and Skydemon i identified the lowest passage through the mountains. Not everybody is aware of that but there’s a small german town at the border to CZ, Furth im Wald, that’s at 1300 ft elevation. It was no problem getting to the other side there, but even the lower mountains were in clouds. On the way back, Tuesday, it was similar. Again the cloud layer was in 1500 to 2000 ft AGL, and the MVA around there is 3600 feet. And since the airfield is directly under the Prag TMA I would never fly in IMC without a clearance.

What are your limits for “scud running”? Mine are 1000 ft AGL or maybe a little less if visibilty is ok, but I don’t do that stuff with 1.5 km of visibility. And I always make sure I can turn back. I once flew through all of Germany in the pouring rain along the major highways in 500-1000 ft (in the Warrior), but nowadays I will of course rather fly IFR then …

Picture from Monday (digital photos have the interesting quality that they make stuff like that look much better than it actually was …)

Last Edited by Flyer59 at 15 Jul 11:56

Wouldn’t it be an option to ride the ILS somewhere near the destination for cloud breaking and then try the below the clouds scud running only for a limited distance?

And if you discover it doesn’t work you have at least the option to join IFR again and land where the ILS is to use other transport to the destination.

Personally I’m too afraid of any kind of obstacle. I feel much safer under IFR in the clouds with zero visibility than in marginal VFR conditions. Up there there are no obstacles.

Frequent travels around Europe

I guess it all depends on the location. I did 500 AGL going from Staniel Cay to Exuma in the Bahamas – but there’s no mountains hopping up at you… where I’m based at I don’t get takeoff clearance if the cover is below 1000 AGL in the CTR. Flying passes like the Simplon or Furka or so in marginal conditions is impressive.

As a sidenote a Swiss based Mustang was lost trying the Canyon Turn.

I was about to write the same thing. Cloudbreak at Pilsen.

Last Edited by boscomantico at 15 Jul 11:50
Mainz (EDFZ) & Egelsbach (EDFE), Germany

Yes, i could fly to Prague and descend on their ILS but that’s 15 minutes farther east than my destination. I could do that in Munich on the way back, because my field is right next to EDDM. The bigger problem though is to get UP to the MVA.

Also: with the EGPWS system (if your database is current, mine isn’t …) you’d have all obstacles on the MFD. The EGPWS/TAWS system is really great having a good picture of all the (natural) obstacles in the area. And also I would never proceed in visibility in which i could miss a windmill or similar – nor would i get down that low in the Cirrus.

AFAIK there’s no ILS in Plzen and no GPS Approach.

For the way back i used the Straubing (EDMS) GPS approach once, from there its only 12 minutes to my home field.

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