Trusting my gut, ( icing ) freezing rain in flight.

Icing, I should have simply trusted my gut…

But practicing what you preach doesn’t always work out.

For two weeks we had been trying to coordinate the return of the Piper Seneca with no help from the weather. I manage and offer multi-engine instruction in the Seneca and Cessna 414 for Private and Commerical pilots (or soon to be). Although the Piper Seneca is fully de-ice equipped that didn’t mean that the runways would be clear. The other issue is even if the plane is equipped for in-flight icing, it doesn’t mean you should fly.

FINALLY, we had a gap in the weather and our schedules finally lined up, it seemed too good to be true, that should have been the first sign.

If you’re not using this program for ground school, you deserve better!

We taxied out of Owosso and were completing our run-up checks when I realized the heading on the glass display was 180 degrees of course. We were on runway 29, why did the heading show 110? We called maintenance and began the trouble shooting process with no chang. With the weather at destination being 400 overcasts we called the flight off.


The first gut check of the day.

I should have been smart and went to the store. I needed ass busting prevention shoes, for the ice of course, but iFLYPLANEZ…

Another flight opportunity came up, reposition the flying club’s Piper Archer that I assist with as the Chief Instructor for it’s annual. It was to be a simple trip, a 17nm night flight to the maintenance base in Lansing.

The weather at the departure and destination airport was showing winds 240/7, 10sm visibility and cloud around 2,000 overcasts with no pireps showing icing. So A little better then the personal minimums that I have for the winter season for a non ice equipped airplane.

SA 10/12/2017 20:53->
METAR KLAN 102053Z 22010KT 10SM OVC020 M03/M07 A2987 RMK
AO2 SLP126 T10331072 53003=
SA 10/12/2017 19:53->
METAR KLAN 101953Z 22009KT 10SM OVC018 M04/M08 A2985 RMK
AO2 SLP120 T10391078=
SA 10/12/2017 18:53->
METAR KLAN 101853Z 21010KT 10SM OVC020 M04/M08 A2985 RMK
AO2 SLP119 T10391078=

I taxied out and departed to the North West and called Lansing Approach.

Within a minute of my takeoff, I saw what looked like fog, haze, or some kind of precipitation. I asked the controller what the tower visibility was and if there was any weather between me and the field. Of course, there was nothing and visibility was better then 10sm. ( Or maybe it would become icing )


I turned on my flashlight to check the leading edges of the wings and was startled to see Ice forming on and BEHIND the leading edge. After another quick flash of the light on the pilot window, I realized it was time to head back, ASAP.

I canceled flight following and made a left turn towards the airport for a straight in. The only issue was my window was freezing up FAST. I slowed down so I could open the pilot window and try and scrape off some ice. The ice seemed to mock me as it felt like needles on my hand with no change on the window. I turned the defrost to MAX, and I turned straight for the numbers. I could only see out of the side windows so I decided to keep a slip as long as possible. Before touch down, I made sure to add some 5-10 extra knots for the icing. I somehow kept it on the centerline (ish), it didn’t help that the runway was icy.

After I landed I called up the Lansing Tower to see if they had any reports of ice, nope just me! I had to call a friend to lead the way to the hangar since I couldn’t see.

After I shut down I was stunned to see how much ice I picked up.

Icing, Freezing Rain.

Amazing what can happen in minutes with icing.

I should have just listened to my gut and not flow, another great lesson learned. As Jason Shappert from MzeroA says, a good pilot is always learning. Did I #escapeaverage today? I don’t know, but I’ll make sure my students know what to do when that happens to them.


Leave a Reply