My wife's sister invited my wife and I to spend Memorial Day weekend with her and her husband in Cape May, New Jersey. An early summer visit to the Jersey shore sounded like fun, plus I could fly us there in our Cessna Skyhawk. Our plan was to fly out on Saturday, spend a couple of days and return on Tuesday. We had a time cushion on either side of the weekend, so I didn’t think weather would be a problem.
Saturday morning was hazy and overcast in Indianapolis, and the Weather Channel radar showed a line of precipitation in central Ohio just north of our route. Our IFR flight to Morgantown, West Virginia, was uneventful. We landed in marginal VFR conditions, stretched, refueled and headed on to Cape May in improving weather. As we flew directly over the Baltimore-Washington International Airport at 7,000 feet, we could see the New Jersey coastline.
Four hours after leaving Indianapolis, we were in Cape May, where it was pretty good beach weather — sunny and warm. The next two days we had great fun on the boardwalk, walking the beach and enjoying really good restaurants.
All too quickly, we needed to plan our return. Again, central Ohio was forecasting rain and thundershowers throughout the day. We left Cape May in the early morning, heading once again toward Morgantown. When we arrived, the radar showed a definite line of weather west of Cincinnati — south of our route to Indianapolis but moving to the northeast.
Not a problem. We made a quick change of plans and decided to fly to Cincinnati, land at Lunken Airport, check the radar again there and find an open route for a quick “sprint” to Indianapolis.
Soon we were on our way to Cincinnati, with an IFR flight plan and partly cloudy skies. Just over halfway there, I began to see some towering clouds growing just north of our route. As we got closer to Cincinnati, the sky ahead of us began to fill also, and we were forced to dodge buildups all around us. At this time, we transferred to Cincinnati approach and were advised to expect a visual approach into Lunken. However, as was always my practice, I had the approach plates for Lunken readily available. This turned out to be a good thing. Ahead of us was a business jet also headed to Lunken, and when Cincinnati approach approved it for the ILS approach, it got my attention. The next thing I knew we were vectored to a heading north of the airport and advised to expect the ILS approach.