Normally, flight patterns are designed and effectuated based upon good scientific conditions. We must rely on the expertise of meteorologists who tell us if we are likely to fly with favorable weather. Instruments being all “go” is another fundamentally important factor (the first day we were grounded by power problems to one of the aircraft). In campaigns like CARES, where day by day several airplanes coordinate their trajectories, even the crew rest days play a significant role. That is to say that it gets some time to get things rolling, especially in the beginning of a mission.
We managed to have our first flight yesterday. Even though the meteorological conditions haven’t been ideal so far (euphemism), having flown over R/V Atlantis was a notable achievement. The ship is owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and it navigated up the Sacramento River carrying many instruments to measure pollutants. Follow this link to find out the location of the ship, or this other one if you want to plot the data the ship is collecting in real time!
Today, the McClellan airfield is hosting the sorrow return of a military airplane carrying a victim from Afghanistan. Although eager to fly, in an almost silent debate we designated this as a “hard day down” before hand. That means no takeoff. One of the things you learn from the field: this is the real world.