There is absolutely no excuse for beginning or continuing a flight into known hazardous weather—“hazardous” being defined as any weather condition that exceeds the limitations of your pilot ratings and currency and/or those of the airplane as it’s certified, equipped, maintained and inspected. Our responsibility as pilots in command is painstakingly clear when it comes to weather planning and flight in adverse conditions. The best of flight planning, however, can sometimes leave a pilot awry when the forecasts don’t tell the entire story. Further, bad decision-making often sends pilots blundering into conditions that are over their heads. Yet, records are filled with heroic accounts of pilots who return from the brink, who get the ship back on the ground when the weather strikes. So, should you ever find yourself staring into weather’s maw, we present survival strategies for escaping the worst of what the skies dish out.
These tips are meant for narrowly avoiding the very real possibility of severe injury or death if you encounter hazardous weather—and there’s no guarantee that these strategies will change the outcome if you fly too deeply into danger. Never forget that it’s your responsibility to avoid hazardous weather and that these strategies should only come into play if you’ve failed to live up to that responsibility. Remember also that the airplane’s Pilot Operating Handbook is the final authority for specific actions to take in case you enter hazardous weather. With all of this in mind, let’s see how you can maximize your chances if you find yourself boxed in by hazardous weather.
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