Checking out of the hotel this morning, the weather looked so-so, but we headed to the airport with high expectations. As we loaded up the planes, I found a computer to check the weather and webcams along our intended route. The weather looked good for the first bit, but went downhill the nearer we got to Hope. This is pretty typical in that area, all the moist air is getting pushed onshore and the valley that it all collects in is at Hope.
We decided to fly to Merritt as the skies were nice and clear that far at least. Refueling of the birds underway, one last look at the oil hose and brakes, I felt good to go. Another round of thank-you’s for all the the guys in Salmon Arm, and we took off on the next leg. I kissed a runway light taxiing out, but the airport manager/operator told me not to worry about it…
We took off and headed west towards the Kamloops area, then joined the highway south towards Merritt. I had noticed the winds were picking up before we left Salmon Arm, but nothing prepared me for what we found decending into Merritt. I was getting kicked around quite a bit, but I was close to the valley wall, so I figured it would all even out over the airport.
I crossed midfield, and joined downwind for the obvious runway (windsock rigidly straight out). Merritt is a wonderful place, all the air that gets funnelled into the valley by Hope, comes out here in Merritt 🙂 The landing was now typical for me (ballooning), and the added winds just made it a horrendous landing. We found out later that the winds were gusting to 49kts.
After taxiing in to the pumps for a top-up (we had to actually lay on the wings while being fuelled), we got the planes tied down to wait out the winds. It was clear after a couple of hours and a long talk with the guy who manages the field, that the winds weren’t going to let up enough for a safe departure, and the weather in Hope hadn’t improved anyway. Off to another hotel for the night 🙁