Logbook Stories

from my "Standard Pilot Master Log"


An Icy Winter Wonderland

January 3, 1974

This is a pilot's logbook story about icing, but it's not about ice on the airplane. It's about ice on the ground. I was scheduled to take a student pilot solo cross-country. The previous day there'd been a massive ice and snow storm that pounded the upper Midwest. But this day weather conditions were light winds, clear and cold everywhere I was scheduled to go. My regular instructor wasn't working that day, so another instructor checked my preflight planning and signed my logbook. The weather was fine everywhere and my nav logs and charts were perfect. I don't know why Dave M. didn't think to check airport conditions given the recent winter storm. I plead student pilot ignorance. An instructor can't use that excuse.

The flight itself to Mankato was uneventful, but it was particularly scenic. Due to the ice storm, the land below sparkled in the sunshine like the earth was encrusted with diamonds. Upon approaching Mankato, unicom advised of light winds and the active runway - but said nothing about runway conditions, and I didn't know enough to ask, and so I entered the traffic pattern to land on that runway. Landed I did, and found braking to be nil and steering likewise, and due to a light crosswind, slid off the edge of the glaze ice covered runway and into a snowbank on the edge.

A Cessna 150 stuck in a snowbank? No problem. Shut down, get out, push down on the tail, rotate the aircraft back toward the runway, pull it there, start up, and taxi very slowly and very carefully to the ramp, sliding all the way, and steering with propwash on the rudder, not the nosewheel. Takeoff was interesting, as it involved crabbing the airplane on the ground so as to slide along the runway centerline during the takeoff roll. Once airborne, everything was normal again. And the remaining two legs of the solo cross-country completed normally and uneventfully.



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