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Fog finally lifting after a week of flight delays and cancellations at SLO Co. airport

Posted at 7:04 AM, Nov 14, 2019

After a week of flight delays and cancellations due to fog, traffic to and from the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport was back to normal Thursday.

All morning flights had to be rescheduled Wednesday after a heavy blanket of fog Tuesday night caused all incoming flights to be diverted or canceled.

Joyce Blowers and her husband were supposed to leave Wednesday morning after visiting the area for a quilting convention but had their flight delayed by several hours.

"We're from near Rochester New York," Blowers said. "They've had like six inches of snow and temperatures in the teens."

That's the kind of weather that comes to mind when flights are canceled but Blowers and her husband's return home was impacted by the fog.

"Hopefully we'll go out around 10 a.m.," Blowers had said. "If everything works, it's really tight in San Francisco, looks like 30 min to get from one flight to the next."

It appears Blowers and her husband did arrive home to a frigid Rochester around 11 p.m. local time Wednesday.

Flight agents were left scrambling to rebook guests, trying to find other accommodations later in the day.

"The fog comes in earlier in the evening and it's low and dense, that makes it so the aircraft can't come in and land," Deputy Director of SLO County Airports Craig Piper said.

Piper said pilots had a difficult navigating a landing through the fog, which came at an unusual time of year.

"Those aircraft come in, they can't see the runway," Piper said. "They have to be able to see it at a certain distance and altitude, if they can't see it they have to abort their landing and try again but typically they divert."

But pilots were experiencing an even greater challenge without a special instrument designed to assist in landing.

The FAA removed that landing instrument last month, Piper said, as it prepared to install a new improved tool.

"That's why the FAA picked this time of year for the change of equipment because we don't typically have this kind of intense fog. obviously this year is different," Piper said.

Pipers said an improved version of the instrument should be re-installed Monday. It's not a solution to the fog but piper says it will improve the chances of an on-time flight.