Be flexible; bring a credit card

Nearly 10 years after earning my pilot certificate, each trip teaches me new lessons. Which is as it should be, because, as you know, “A good pilot…”

A trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina this past weekend reinforced a lesson I learned early on: The weather is always changing, and the only thing you can count on is that you can’t count on the weather.

The forecast five days out had been shaping up beautifully for a Saturday morning departure and a Monday morning return. As we got closer to the weekend, Saturday in Frederick, Maryland, began to include rain in the forecast. No problem. My watchword when it comes to flying is always “Be flexible.” This means being open to the possibility that you will change your departure date. So I launched on Friday afternoon. Aside from a couple of bumps over the Alleghenies, the trip was smooth and uneventful and the arrival into Dare County Regional at Manteo positively beautiful (and breezy!).

On Saturday, I checked the weather again. (I check the weather constantly when I fly somewhere. It helps me to keep tabs on developments.) Thunderstorms were forecast for that evening and the report mentioned the possibility of hail and tornadoes. Yikes! Back to the airport I went. Fortunately, Barrier Island Aviation had hangar space and were happy to rent me some square footage for the night. (Hence the need for a credit card. Of course I needed one anyway to buy fuel, but you get the general idea.)

Sunday dawned clear and breezy, but Monday wasn’t looking so promising back in Maryland. So I opted to cut the weekend short and come back on Sunday afternoon. The headwinds were annoying and the ride home bumpier than the ride out. But, to use yet another cliche, better the devil you know. Bumps and headwinds are infinitely preferable to low ceilings and thunderstorms. — Jill Tallman

  • Aaron Daniels

    I just submitted an article for our news letter with the same moral.
    A buddy and I were returning from a trip from Houston to Little Rock in January. The weather was bad the day before and the day of our planned departure. We stayed one extra night in Houston. The next day, the weather never quite responded as promised. But it looked pretty good. We take-off. It was not good enough. Had to divert to Nacogdoches, TX., and get a new plan. The plan, stay the night in Nacogdoches, TX.
    We arrived in Little Rock two days behind schedule. It was good to have a little room left in “The Plastic Piggy Bank.”

  • BIA Admin

    Glad we could be of help to you! Come & join us on the OBX anytime :)

  • Ian Twombly

    I would add bring cash. Being from a fairly urban area, I’ve been shocked how many places don’t take credit cards. This is true of airport restaurants and other nearby businesses. And I usually don’t carry cash. Needless to say I’ve gone hungry a few times.

  • Mike Green

    Second the cash is king, Ian.

    I’ve found a few airports that don’t take cards, but equally I’ve found a few that will give you a discount if you pay with cash. It might only be 2% or such, but every little bit that keeps the cash in the airports and out of financial companies is good :-)