Short Final: Texas Weather


There are many stories about the horrible freeze we had in Texas this year, but I think this one of the funniest.

I planned a flight to McAllen, TX, from the Lago Vista Rusty Allen Airport in the Austin area, and the runway was frozen over and covered with snow. Having grown up in North Dakota, I was, of course, undeterred. I pushed my Viking through the muck and was off. There was a low stratus layer at 3000 feet, so I called Austin Approach for a pop‑up clearance. I dialed in the frequency and heard nothing. I waited a few moments then said, “Austin Approach, November 51 Lima Hotel.”

“51 Lima Hotel, Austin Approach. I see you filed a flight plan for McAllen yesterday. Weather too bad, eh?”

I replied, “How did you know that?”

He said, “Well, you are the only person I’ve talked to in three days!”

I stifled a laugh and said, “Suppose I could get a pop‑up through this layer?”

He said, “Sure, would you like a clearance direct KMFE?”

This never happens as the route goes through San Antonio and many MOAs on the way. I guess it was my lucky day.

David Alger

Lago Vista, TX

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  1. I get the same side-eye when it’s windy in the Bay Area.

    Most FBOs ground their fleet at 10 knots, but since I flew in Hawaii, I’m used to 35 knots for months on end.

    So I have to take along a CFI, who is stunned when I fly the final approach like I’m on rails.

    Some warnings I have with very high winds:

    – hold the controls correctly at all times when taxiing or your airplane can flip over, or controls damaged.

    – when landing and the wind is above your stall speed, you will appear to fly “backwards” until within a few feet of the runway (gradient near ground level). Expect that and don’t be startled the first time. It’s only a problem if you aimed at the threshold and came up short, so don’t do that.