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3 years ago I moved to North Dakota to pursue flight training at the University of North Dakota. If you have never gone to North Dakota, it is very hot and humid in the summer, and incredibly cold in the winter. Therefore, all the pilots here have learned the importance of down jackets and wool socks. We have also been taught the advantages and disadvantages of flying in a snowy, cold, and windy climate.

 

However, the other day I experienced a situation that no textbook or instructor could have warned me of. During my solo flight I was practicing confined areas to the south of the Grand Forks International Airport. My favorite area was an "island" located in a small lake. I had shot this approach many times before and knew of all the obstacles I would face. I did a high recon anyways and re-affirmed that this would be a piece of cake.

 

As I was approaching about 100 ft agl I noticed movement in my peripherals. I looked over at what appeared to be a black dot on the ice. I continued to gaze at the area and noticed small black dots waving frantically. It was then I realized that 2 people in completely white snowsuits and black gloves were waving frantically at me to go away. It turns out they had been ice fishing and the black dot I had seen earlier was their ice fishing hut.

 

I immediately entered a go around and watched the fishers as they walked back into their hut. Moral of the story, always do a low recon. it would have been a bad day if I landed on the "island" cracked the ice and sent two brave fishers into the lake.

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Haha! No it was actually and island and not a frozen patch of ice. I used quotation marks around it because it is not a large tropical island like Hawaii (Nothing is very tropical in ND). The whole area of land is about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide, and is covered in a thin layer of grass. UND has it as an approved confined area location and I am in no danger of crashing into icy water because glide distance would easily put me on the earth.

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I am only a few flights and a checkride away from my commercial. I should have it by this time next week.

 

Well in that case, good luck!

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