Short Final: Stop Where You Are


This past June we were returning from Canada to Colorado in mid‑afternoon IFR in our PA 32. The typical afternoon thunderstorms were in full swing. As we progressed homeward just east of a several hundred-mile-long line of cumulonimbus buildups we heard Salt Lake Center clearing departing flights up to FL 260. Nothing higher. All requests for higher were denied with the same explanation—all the available (what there was of it because of the weather) airspace above FL 260 was already saturated with traffic. The controller was juggling airplanes as best as he could.

Then came the icing on the cake. “Delta XYZ, stop right where you are. Holding legs and direction at your discretion. I’ll get back to you in 20 to 30 minutes!”

The Big Sky Country gets smaller when the thunderstorms proliferate, and they were proliferating.

Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Parker, CO

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