Dodging thunderstorms at 17,000 ft

(finally, some flying content!)

Spicy weather.

So we went to Flying Cloud  (Eden Prairie) Minnesota (KFCM) on Saturday for a bit of an adventure and a bit of fun. The forecast was good for the flight out, and a slight (25%) chance of storms in the evening on the way back. The FAA weather briefer told me that he personally thought it was more likely that there would be enough heat energy to make some real fun afternoon thunderstorms and he was indeed correct.


Fired up the 340A at 7:20AM Central and took off. Got a weird IFR routing from ATC, 30 miles south then west and north. I had filed for JOT as a waypoint to skirt the edge of the Chicago class Bravo airspace then direct KFCM, , but they took me to the ZORRO intersection first, the direct JOT then direct. ….Strange routing  and I cannot see the reason for it, Added about 50 miles to the flight….

Still having issues with the Cylinder Head Temps, but I am learning to manage that better until I can get the cooling issue diagnosed…But other than that the plane ran flawlessly.

Anyway, the trip up was decent, a bit of a line of unsettled weather but other than some turbulence , it was a standard IFR 16,000 feet.  2 hours 17 minutes even with the routing. It was REALLY hazy when we arrived at KFCM, so I asked for, and got, the RNAV 28L approach to make finding the airport easier. They were doing visuals, but honestly I was having issues picking out the airport through the haze at all, so I did the RNAV. Nice landing, full rollout and we taxiied to the FBO.

Parked, got an Uber and away we went.

Had  a great time, But we left the venue a few (like 4) hours earlier than I had originally planned for….which made the weather be a factor that I had not anticipated when I planned the flights….We Ubered back to the FBO….filled up with fuel, checked the oil, and filed our flight plan with ATC for basically the same route back home that I had asked for going out. And got it!: Zumbro Seven departure, NODINE transition, then direct JOT and then home….

Sadly Ma Nature had different opinions about that routing… there was a line of thunderstorms that boiled up as we began our departure. We had hoped to beat them out of the area, but no dice. There were some gaps, so we chose to try……it was interesting.

We ended up flying all over the place to dodge the storms. After ODI we decided to turn south and shoot a gap by DBQ VOR ….it was either that or go north and try for a gap there (BRIBE intersection). Made the best decision I could based on the information I had on the movement of the storms….In hindsight it would have been better to go for the north route, but one makes the decision with the data one has, right? You can see the buildups in the video and some of the NexRad on Foreflight in the video: (this was 17,000 ft)




And here is some of the other imagery earlier in the flight on the Garmin 750.

(Sorry there isn’t more to see, I was kinda busy and didn’t have time to take pics or vids, but MC has some more photos on her blog)

Anyway, we went south and turned back east at DBQ. It was kinda interesting as the storm kept boiling up in front of us in what had been clear 10 minutes before. We’d see clear on the ADSB and then the onboard radar would show things forming right in front of us, then we’d actually see it boiling up in front of us. The line of storms kept herding us south, but we finally slipped the gap and turned east. Then ATC did me a solid: A reroute that kept us away from the weather!…Present position direct RFD VOR then KELSI then JOT then home….and then they gave me direct JOT just as we passed RFD….Then home.

The fun part was that about 20 miles from home, for some reason, the GPS lost all the satellites. No position, no ADSB/NexRad weather, nothing. The ATC guy was a bit confused when I asked him if my heading was ok and informed him that I had no GPS and therefore no ADSB for him…….He couldn’t believe that I was navigating the “old fashioned” way with headings and a VOR and such and that I wasn’t too worried about it (I only asked him about the vector because the winds were uncertain) but he was surprised that I was unconcerned about the loss of GPS. … Shortly thereafter we descended into the clear and I landed visually….But I am glad the GPS failure happened at the end of the flight and not while dodging the the storms. Gonna have to have that worked on as well. Not sure what happened but that is gonna get fixed real quick, or I am not gonna fly into weather. Strangely, the GPS came back just as we turned downwind at the airport.


All told, it was a fun trip. Minneapolis and back in a day, 380 miles each way (plus storm detours) in a little over 2 hours (plus the time it took to dodge storms) It is actually faster for me to fly in the 340 than to drive to a major airport, park, do the TSA shoe dance, board, fly and then get a rental car …and the cost for two people in my plane is nearly the same as commercial…. Three people puts the 340 flight a clear winner cost wise.  Plus more fun and no TSA hassles.




10 thoughts on “Dodging thunderstorms at 17,000 ft

  1. That GPS loss and the CHT issue continuing are ‘concerning’… Hope you get it sorted!

    • Yeah, I don’t think they are related….

      I have a 430 for navigation, but losing the ADS-B and the traffic data (and NexRad) is a pain.

      The CHT issues are being worked on tomorrow and then we will work more on the fueling (part of the CHT issue, I think)

  2. Looks like you stayed south of me on your way home. (ARR)

    “Three people puts the 340 flight a clear winner cost wise”

    Hey, if you ever need ballast onboard !!!!

    • yeah, we were south of you a bit. FLew a line rom Rockford to Joliet.

      Next time there is a blogmeet or something like that I’ll pick you up!

  3. Glad you had a good time and managed to get back despite the issues.
    I had no idea that you know “MC” from Non-Original, found out about your adventure while cruising through there.
    Said I always figured you to be a good guy and now I know I was right.
    Good Onya.

    • I’ve known MC since high school, believe it or not. We have a LONG history.

      Started her blogging too. Now she’s better at it than me.

  4. Marine f35 lost GPS in Carolinas same time as you. that pilot bailed out. I guess that is SOP for ATC and the modern Marine Corps. Well done saving your plane B.

    • No reason to bail. Just use the backup forms of Nav.

      The plane flew fine, I just had no GPS Nav. Hadda do old school. Just like my IFR training.

      GPS with the autopilot makes you lazy.

  5. If those GPS satellites ever get knocked out, a lot of people will be wishing that the Loran system had been kept around and upgraded.


    • You still have VOR for Nav.
      Lots more accurate than LORAN too.

      But your point is well taken. GPS is making everyone lazy.

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