Well, now, that was a challenge.

Or not, really…

Fired up the 340 and flew to KPTK (about an hour) to pick up Aaron for a trip to Mike Williamson’ s “Confinement Con“. outside of Nashville TN. Aaron convinced me that it would be a good time (he was right) and I didn’t have anything else going on that weekend….

Weather for the leg from my home to KPTK was beautiful, 9000 ft clear and smooth.

Left KPTK after loading Aaron and his luggage (and some fuel) and we filed a flight plan and flew south at 14,000 ft. 200-ish knots TAS at 65% power,

From KPTK to M54 (Lebanon TN) was great for the first 2 hours. Smooth, some IMC, (of course a headwind) but nice. A tiny bit of rime ice here and there, but nothing to worry about….in an out of the soup.

Aaron, being a pilot, was very helpful in the cockpit, but honestly, once you are set at cruise, the only thing to do is monitor things, keep fine tuning your altitude (the 40 year old autopilot is wonky about that sometimes) and monitor ATC.

Weather at Lebanon was Marginal VFR, 1500 broken, 4 statute miles. Very doable.

Until it wasn’t .

At about 60 miles out, things changed…Suddenly, M54 airport was Low IFR….300ft  or even less…and less that 1 mile visibility. Which sucked as that is well below the minimums for the RNAV approach. We slowed down and hoped for the best. Encountered a bit of ice here and there on the descent, but again, nothing to worry about. Didn’t even need to use the boots. We kept monitoring the conditions at Lebanon airport as we descended……

It wasn’t getting better. At 30 miles out it was 400 ft  but less than a mile visibility.. Still not good enough. I made the call to divert.

We called ATC and told ’em we were diverting to our alternate…. KBNA (Nashville), about 20 miles west of Lebanon. ATC was very helpful in all of this, vectoring us to our new approach and working to slot us into traffic. We continued to monitor the weather at M54 though.

We actually were set up to arrive for the ILS approach on RWY 20L at KBNA for a while, but then about 15 miles out, the weather cleared just a little bit at Lebanon and I asked Nashville approach of we could try for Lebanon RNAV 19 as it was right at minimums now.

“You can try” was the reply. He vectored us around and we commenced to do the approach from about 8 miles out. Weather was 400 ft but 2 miles, just at minimums…..so we gave it a shot. Winds were slight, like 4 knots more or less right down the runway heading.

And I flew it right down to 50′ above minimums before breaking out of the clouds.

It’s always neat on an IFR approach when the airport appears out of the clouds right where it is supposed to be, This time I was on the localizer, on glide slope, and on speed ….50 feet above the minimums. It may be the closest-to-minimums actual IFR approach I have ever done.

Aaron didn’t even scream once during the approach. He was a helpful cockpit resource, looking and keeping an eye on things… watching the altitude and such while I flew the needles while he looked for the runway environment and he took the above photo as we broke out.

Landed nicely, and taxiied to the FBO, tied the plane down, and called an Uber to take us to the hotel for the Con.


2 thoughts on “Well, now, that was a challenge.

  1. Lebanon, TN has the best BBQ at Blue Moon BBQ next time you’re in the area. At least it was last time I was out there.

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