Discretion… and all that


standing-lenticular-cloudsSometimes discretion really is the better part of valor. I’m sitting here in my home on the east side of the Sierra, just down the hill from Lake Tahoe, looking at clouds that are evil harbingers of what is to come. I was scheduled for a trip over to the California central valley, south of Fresno, to meet with a couple of RV-3 builders today – guys that want to take a close look at how we did a few things on our own little RV. It would have been a nice little trip – an hour and a half each way, with all of the majesty of Yosemite and its environs to keep me occupied, and lunch with other airplane fanatics thrown in.

Alas, the first real storm of the coming winter is moving in from the northwest, and the winds are predicted to hit around noon. The morning dawned deceptively calm, as if nature was saying “come on, you know you want to go, its not going to be that bad…” But nature has a way of not covering all her tracks – if you are an experienced tracker, it is easy to see the holes in her argument. Standing Lenticular clouds are indicators of high upper winds across the mountains (and all the turbulence they can bring) – and lo and behold, what have we here as the sun was coming up? A stack of standing Lennies, illuminated by the rising sun. Not good – especially this early in the day.

The clear skies of the past week have given way to a high overcast, built out of waves created by those same winds. Sure, the forecast says I could pop over the hills crossing back over farther south around noon – but then I’ve got winds gusting to 30 knots when I get home – and anytime the winds go from nothing to 30 in a few short hours, things are unstable, changing – and the bumps will be bad. No – that’s a sucker play for a trip that really doesn’t need to happen. I’d love to go – but the timing is just too close.

Nope – today, discretion is the better part of valor. There will be other opportunities to do the meet and greet, have lunch, and talk airplanes. Besides, I’ve got a panel upgrade to do on one airplane, and we’re still building those Xenos spars.

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Paul Dye
Paul Dye, KITPLANES® Editor at Large, retired as a Lead Flight Director for NASA’s Human Space Flight program, with 40 years of aerospace experience on everything from Cubs to the Space Shuttle. An avid homebuilder, he began flying and working on airplanes as a teen and has experience with a wide range of construction techniques and materials. He flies an RV-8 and SubSonex jet that he built, an RV-3 that he built with his pilot wife, as well as a Dream Tundra and an electric Xenos motorglider they completed. Currently, they are building an F1 Rocket. A commercially licensed pilot, he has logged over 6000 hours in many different types of aircraft and is an A&P, FAA DAR, EAA Tech Counselor and Flight Advisor; he was formerly a member of the Homebuilder’s Council. He consults and collaborates in aerospace operations and flight-testing projects across the country.


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