NOTE: This report is very long, but I hope it's worth it for you.
Trip Report, CLE-PHL (ABE) 7/28/00, ABE-CLE 7/30/00
For those of you who flew along the Northeastern U.S. last Friday night, you know my trip wasn't as easy as usual.
This was a long anticipated trip because it was my first trip on a Beechcraft 1900D or other small plane since I was on a flight that nearly crashed in JAX in 1988.
I flew on Continental Airlines and had a direct flight since CLE is a hub. The flight time to ABE on a B100 is 1-1/2 hours, which makes it a pretty long flight for that aircraft. My flight was scheduled to leave CLE at 9:45 PM. Lines of severe thunderstorms began coming through at about 3:15 PM. I watched the flight schedules on the Internet until almost 8:00 PM when I decided I should go out to the airport (I took the train).
By the time I got out to the airport my flight had been cancelled, which I fully expected, but had hoped to know about before I left home. My flight was the last scheduled to ABE that night so I figured I would have to go home and fly in the morning. I got in line for reticketing and to keep myself busy I read the departures board, which was all cancellations for turboprop flights beyond PIT. However, there was a flight to PHL which had not been cancelled. I was able to get reticked for that flight. Luckily, ABE is only 1 hour from PHL.
The flight to PHL was on a 735. It was very smooth and I was so grateful to be on my way that I didn't make a lot of observations. We had a smooth departure from Rwy 23R, directly across the street from where I spot at the 100th Bomb Group Restaurant (nobody was on the hill in the dark and rain, though). There was no turbulence except for some minor bumps probably over the Harrisburg/York area (where the storm front was concentrated). We came in from the south and broke through the clouds over Wilmington, DE, following the Delaware River north; passing over the Commodore Barry Bridge and landing on one of the runways parallel to the river. The landing was so smooth that I only knew we were down by the deceleration.
I was not reticketed for my return flight so I did fly back from ABE and got that long-anticipated flight on the B100. Aside from my anxiety about getting caught in another severe thunderstorm (the cause of the JAX problem in 1988), I was uncomfortable with the thought of not having a lavatory on board. I didn't eat anything for two hours before flying.
Our flight was actually very smooth and uneventful despite the thunderheads all around us. The weather was hazy, hot, and humid with broken cumulus clouds at 5,000 and 10,000 ft., and stratus above our 16,000 ft. cruising altitude. I estimate that some of the thunderheads easily hit 30,000 ft., but most had not "anviled out" and none were "punched through" to severe status. We flew around most, through the edge of two, and slightly inside one as we entered the arrival flight path for CLE.
We departed after an Airborne Express DC-8, with the usual two minute hold for wake turbulence. Although the wind wasn't really a factor, we departed to the east and after about 30 seconds clear of the field we made a 180-degree turn. Flight to CLE was roughly due west with a few diversions for thunderstorms.
There were a few factors which helped this be an enjoyable ride. First, since the B100 doesn't have a cockpit door, I was able to read some of the instruments and see the weather ahead of us. Second, although I was over the wing on the left side, I could still see below us between the wing and the prop (I like window seats, and you're guaranteed one on a B100). Finally, there was good air flow from the vent which pointed right at my face, so the small plane didn't feel stuffy or close at all once I was seated (yes, the aisle was a bit snug).
We had only minor turbulence except for one major bump as we entered the flight path for CLE. Luckily everyone was wearing a seatbelt. We broke through the clouds approximately over Chardon, OH, and passed over the Lake Erie shoreline at Willougby. We flew along the shoreline, and the following landmarks were visible: 90/271 junction; CGF; MLK Blvd/90 junction; Jacobs Field, and Public Square. We passed back over the Lake Erie shoreline at Lakewood and followed the usual approach path over I-71 to the Rwys 23.
While descending the last 1,000 ft. we experienced a lot of yaw and sideslipping but the pilots did a wonderful job of setting us down gently. I assume I noticed that more because it was a smaller, slower turboprop instead of a larger, faster jet. We landed on Rwy 23L.
Please forgive the length of this trip report! I had even more observations but they are mostly weather-related. If you would like me to post them, please feel free to ask in this thread.