The family and I took a trip up to Omaha on Thanksgiving Day in the Diamond DA40XL. Weather was forecasted to be good, however, there was some warmer air aloft and I had some concerns of visibility due to the recent snow fall to our north (colder ground temperatures). The issue was that the Blair airport had no published instrument approaches. We decided to proceed with the flight as visibility was good (10+ miles), there were no icing concerns, and if we could not get VFR into Blaire, we’d go to Omaha International as our alternate. We’d also watch the XM Weather close on the flight up to see if the weather closed in on us en-route.
Read all the details after the jump.
The climb out of KC went fine — the cooler air was nice and it showed me the DA40XL could really hit 140 KTAS once we leveled off. As we got about 50 miles northwest of the Kansas City Metro we could see the overcast layer building where the snow cover line started. We asked ATC for 6000 feet to keep us out of the overcast not knowing if the clouds had developed any ice or not. The METARs in the area were not getting any worse so we continued on, but I had my approach plates out for a OMA instrument procedure if needed.
As we approached Omaha, the Blair ASOS (recently added) was reporting 3200 overcast as we were handed off to Omaha Approach Control. I was initially concerned because approach said they could only give us 3000 for IFR separation with the large towers on the north side of Omaha. However, remember that ASOS reports are given AGL not MSL. That extra 1000 foot was what we needed. We descended to 3000 feet through the overcast with no ice and had a great landing at Blair. We enjoyed Turkey and all the fixings then packed up for home.
I was much less concerned about the flight back to Kansas City a few hours later, because we knew there was no ice and Kansas City weather was fine. We got PD down to 3000 about 75 miles out of Kansas City and I set the Auto Pilot for a slow 100 FPM decent until we got to the top of the overcast. The sunset was amazing on top of the overcast and the pictures I snapped with the cell phone camera do not do it justice — now this is why I learned to fly!
We were too early to fly over and see the Plaza Lights, but we met NewsChopper 9 on the way into OJC — Johnny Rowlands was headed out to provide aerial shots for the live coverage on KMBC.