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Left Coast Pilot – The Fog Season

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February 2012

 Late last year, I found myself planning a flight to Fullerton (KFUL), in Southern California. Typical West Coast winter conditions were in full force: morning fog here in the Central Valley, and a marine layer at our destination.

While I met (barely) the legal experience requirements to file and fly IFR, it had been many months since I’d done any flying in actual instrument conditions. The trip wouldn’t involve much actual instrument work—at most, a departure out of the fog and then a simple descent through a thin stratus layer to our destination—but getting a little practice first seemed like a good idea. So, I started checking weather every day.

I quickly noticed that on most mornings, Livermore (KLVK), less than half an hour west of my home base, was covered by a low overcast, which would give me exactly the real-world experience I lacked. The morning that I decided to go started out near ILS minimums, with two miles visibility in mist and a 200-foot ceiling. I headed to the airport, got a tower en-route clearance, and took off.

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