Winter Fog Fight

I woke up early, ready for my winter morning flight from Orange, NSW (YORG) to Maitland (YMND). The forecast called for patchy fog, so I took extra time in my preparation. I used NAIPS for the latest flight information and weather updates, checked for wind patterns, and chatted with Maitland locals about the current and forecast conditions.

At the airport, I conducted a thorough pre-flight check of the Cirrus SR22. The fog was already visible, swirling in the low-lying areas. It was as if someone had used a cookie cutter to perfectly splice the fog around Orange Airport, leaving a hole to the blue sky above my head. Once everything was set, I contacted ATC, received my IFR code, and taxied to the runway.

The fog swirling through the low lying terrain. (Noah Mirosch, 2024)

The takeoff was smooth, and the flight to Maitland was uneventful. As I approached Maitland, the fog appeared in my . I had planned for an RNP approach at Maitland. The RNP W approach at Maitland is unusual. Instead of setting you up for landing on a particular runway, it simply brings you down to the circling minima, where you then have to fly a circuit.

This is due to the complex Williamtown airspace surrounding Maitland airport. Willy class C LL is 2300ft above Maitland Airport. Also about 10nm away is Cessnock airport, a major training hub for northern Sydney.

The initial fix for Maitland RNP W is right over Cessnock Airport – this means that if Cessnock is VFR, then this is a very busy IAP.

Williamtown Western Airspace, VTC Extract. (AirServices Australia, 2024)

The fog was forecast as patchy, with a light wind from the west. In reality It was clinging to the ground as if the fog was a layer of fabric, charged by an intense static electric charge, stubbornly refusing to shift.

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