General aviation weather safety is nothing to take lightly. Our pilot weather articles are designed to help you maintain your skills for flying in tough conditions and improve your overall aviation safety.
But use caution: the wind might be a little tricky
Most prospective aviators are excited about joining Lindberg, Yeager and Hoover in the sky, but they’re usually less enthusiastic about investigating the ways of weather, at least until they start flying places. In this case when we say “weather,” we’re talking mostly wind. For safety’s sake, we need to understand the movement of fronts, development more »
Are you prepared for when the weather deteriorates?
It has been a long day on a long cross-country flight. The weather forecasts have not been very accurate—you’re reminded of a quote from an anonymous wag: “Weather forecasts are horoscopes with numbers.”
It had been a long day. It was January 2003, and I’d departed Reykjavik, Iceland, in a 58 Baron; destination Iqaluit, Nunavit, Canada, with stops in Greenland, where it was clear and cold—in this case, minus-20 degrees C. I’d landed on the gravel runway at Kulusuk in the dark of noon, refueled as quickly as possible to avoid having the engines cool down, and leaped back off across the ice cap for the old U.S. air base at Sondre Strom Fjord, well above the Arctic Circle. The weather remained perfect as I spanned the cap at 14,000 feet in smooth, frigid air.
Whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his own shadow or not, winter is losing its death grip. But it isn’t dead yet. Widespread icing still exists during the transition months of March and April. Gulf moisture, warmer temperatures and an overactive jet stream guarantees that convective SIGMETs will begin to spring out of hibernation. With temperatures slowly on the rise, you need to tailor your briefings to focus on key weather products that track the vernal transition.
Winter presents many complications for those who live in northern latitudes. Residents of warmer states like Florida and Arizona probably consider us northerners to be their somewhat slow-witted (and perhaps crazy) cousins, but winter offers its own set of pleasures—and challenges.
Icing is already a terribly complex topic without the many old wives’ tales and rules of thumb making it even more difficult. Rules of thumb generally plead ignorance. Ignorance often leads to bad decisions. When the weather is on its worst behavior, rules of thumb rarely apply and can actually be dangerous. Here are a few of my pet peeves when it comes to icing folklore.