My friend Glen (Navy SEAL/CIA, KIA in Benghazi, Libya in 2012) and I departed from Peoria, Illinois and started to pick up ice climbing through 4,000 feet just after losing communications with departure control. Fun meter pegged.
I had purchased my first airplane in 2003, a little 1980 Cessna 172 and had this great idea to fly it back to California from Illinois in February.
As we climbed through the gook, we lost all communications. “No problem,” I thought. “We’ll just fly our filed plan.” However, to make things worse, as we were about to break out between layers, ice started to form on the wing struts. We knew we were about to break out in a thousand feet, so we decided to push on rather than descend into a low ceiling and risk picking up more ice. I remember Glen saying something like, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…” It turned out to be the right call and this was one of those flying experiences that either makes you a better pilot – or a dead one. After the long trip to San Diego, we learned it was an antennae grounding issue. On the tarmac, the radios worked fine. In the air, we were unable to transmit.