“I have bad news,” my assigned
partner in crime FO thrust a print-clustered A4 paper before me. “We expect a foggy visibility of 800m in Dhaka, precisely our minimum for the ILS Runway 14”.
I groan, inward and outwardly at my harbinger of gloom.
“First and second alternate weather conditions are flimsily marginal too,” he continues. Hello, incessant bedevilment.
“But fret not, I’m optimistic about our landing chances.” He has a glint in his eye.
I pair my widened sepet eyes with a lopsided grin. “That’s the spirit.” I concur. “Optimism is the grease for our system.”
“Huh?” He’s confused.
“Blah blah blah. Words fail me today.” I pause. “Optimism is the grease that oil our happiness.”
I’m determined to have an uneventful fright. I mean, an uneventful FLIGHT. Gee, my words are a legit flop today.
I utilise the ACARS for constant weather updates throughout the flight- in between dialectics regarding the institute of marriage.
The METAR denotes a current conservative 2500 meters visibility. Sweet!
But the TAF suggest an imminent dip in RVR (runway visual range) to 800m, and eventually 500m. Don’t cry for me, Argentina.
earn your money
“This is Dhaka automatic terminal information India, time 1730… Runway 14 in use… visibility 2400 m...” the automated voice rings clear over our VHF radio. Yes! Hold your tears, Argentina.
We arrive overhead DAC VOR, and make a gradual turn outbound for a full letdown. Fog hug us like an oversized teddy bear, the glare from our exterior lights bounce off the thickening fog like a tennis balls against a practice wall.
Our inbound turn resembles a giant fishing hook. I activate the approach phase in hopes of a tighter bank.
We achieve a sleek curve towards the runway track… and strain our ocular capabilities in search for a passage back to solid ground- the runway.
The NOTAMS indicate that the centreline lights are unserviceable. I spent a fleeting minute worrying about the impact this possible deterioration of airport lighting system might have on the runway visualness.
Lo and behold, my qualms are in vain. Despite the lack of centreline lights, the runway beam at us with the intensity of a pre-election political rally; like well lit Genting Highlands on a cloudless night- impossible to miss.
Landing was uneventful. therefore the takeoff will be a piece of cake, right?
The mist thickens around us at a perceptible pace. Our naked eyes note the air density shift, like God dump a healthy portion of Xanthan gum into the atmosphere.
The air traffic controller confirms our suspicions.
“Current RVR 1200 meters,” he tells some guy.
1200m visibility drop in, like, 15 minutes? Me no likey.
I grunt. “Let’s get the bird out of here.” I said.
Except, I didn’t say “bird”.
at the threshold of runway 14
The white edge lights line the runway’s fringe. We count 16 on each side. With a distance of 60 meters between each light, quick maths indicate nearly 1000 meters of RVR (confession- I used a calculator. My lack of mental arithmetic ability is apparent, in spite of Chinese stereotypes).
I advance the thrust levers and the engines spur to life. The fog envelopes our speeding aircraft as she race down the runway and into the blurry muddle.
As I rotate, we charge into another mass of dense vapour.
And we climb, and we climb…
… and we climb… penetrating the sitting fog, bursting into the clear night sky.
Buh-bye, frog. Um, FOG.