One of the last weather-caused airline crashes in the United States was American Airlines Flight 1420 in Little Rock on June 1, 1999. As we mark its 20th anniversary, well tie together some of the radar and thunderstorm skills weve learned in previous articles. Youll also see brand-new radar scans of the storm from modern high-resolution display software-which is far more detailed than that in the NTSB report-and well contemplate what you might see if you encounter a similar storm on modern radar today.
Clearly, this was a humbling experience. Im left wondering how many of us who are more than a few decades and a few thousand hours past flying trainers at 60 knots would do better. Your takeaway from this self-deprecating story is that no matter what you fly, youve got to play well with all the others, be they fast or slow, pro or student. Im glad I relearned that lesson with no worse than some personal embarrassment. And, the students probably learned to watch out for fast twins with inattentive pilots.
If issued an en-route clearance limit, you will be given holding instructions. If the pattern is charted, and they rarely are, you might be issued, Hold east as published. Most moving map displays such as the G1000 and GTN series do not show published holds, necessitating a chart, but ATC will issue full holding instructions if requested. The FAA frowns on unpublished holds, saying that only those holding patterns depicted on U.S. government or commercially produced charts which meet FAA requirements should be used. This is another reason why rolling your own at JIDUK, is a shaky idea.
Lets start out with a few simple examples and work our way up. One of the most-used examples is, Tower, Cessna 12345, ready for departure, Runway 14L. Cessna 12345, Tower, hold short Runway 14L. The caution below appears on many charts, but have you really assimilated what its telling you? Its simple. Essentially, if the controller says the word runway you should read back the explicit instruction: Cessna 12345, holding short Runway 14L. This is the proper way to respond.
Naturally, you want blue skies and full sun to get the most out of such a trip. Theres usually no issue with that, but the Gulf region and Florida Keys have their share of showers and thunderstorms. Hurricanes and tropical storms not withstanding, weather here is dynamic, so youre going to start familiarizing yourself with this new territory early. Little do you know that its the mapping, not the weather, that will catch you by surprise.
A fter a record winter where temperatures fell below -30 degrees F in some parts of the Midwest, its hard to believe summer is approaching again. That means a rapid increase in thunderstorm activity across the country. In this issue our goal is to help you not only understand the parts of a storm but also whats going on underneath the hood and what it means for the forecast. The information also might help save your bacon when things go downhill unexpectedly and all the data you have is whats out the window.
When we got BasicMed, something wed done for a long time was taken away. BasicMed applies to acting as pilot in command. But, with BasicMed youre not legal to act as a safety pilot for your buddy whos under the hood practicing approaches in VMC. So, you exercise the workaround of agreeing ahead of time that you, the safety pilot, are indeed the PIC for this flight (more on that in a moment), then youre once again good to go even with BasicMed ... if, that is, the aircraft insurance agrees. Lets look more carefully at all this.
ATC will often ask pilots if they can do something somewhat out of the ordinary for the purpose of granting a shortcut or maybe to gain that extra slice of airspace. This subtle word works on both sides of the coin. In the pattern, Tower might ask a pilot to fly a short approach that-if the pilot is unprepared and accepts it-requires a steep and fast dive. Perhaps youve been offered that so they can fit you inside of other traffic, to avoid vectoring you 10 miles out to get behind everyone. Or, perhaps they just need you to cross the approach end of the runway so they can start getting other airplanes out. Regardless, if you dont think you can safely and properly comply, bring on the PIC authority and just say it, Unable.
About 30 minutes into these touch and goes, one requested a stop and go. I could not have five aircraft doing touch and goes with one doing a stop and go; it would mess up the pattern and Id be making student pilots do a lot they didnt need to. So, I come back with, Unable. I have five of yall. He came back with, Well we need to do stop and goes for training. I thought about putting that one airplane on the other runway, but I had started to have a line of departures and arrivals. Unable, I repeated. I thought the matter was closed, as it should have been.
The answer given in question 2 of the quiz in your November 2018 issue (continue to fly straight through the storm) is incorrect. Fifty years ago I wrote and published the initial research papers on transmitting weather information into the cockpit after almost losing my life due to a thunderstorm. As a nationally recognized aviation radar/weather spokesperson, I continue to educate and update pilots around the country as the program progresses. The history of the Datalink program is best presented by AOPAs video on YouTube. Search for datalink concept to cockpit.
Likely you either practice approaches to non-towered airports or fly into airfields with part-time control towers. Non-towered airports, hotbeds of GA activities, present our greatest risk of a midair collision; a risk mitigated by a disciplined adherence to procedures (proper entry into landing patterns, proper departure patterns) and proper use of the UNICOM frequency at uncontrolled airports. (FAA Aviation News, May/June 2001) Therefore, its important that instrument pilots play nice around the pattern. The updated AC 90-66 covering non-towered airports specifically identifies instrument pilots, maybe because of some past misbehavior.
For those unfamiliar, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan boasts generous lengths of shoreline off Lake Superior, scenic byways, and lots of trees. While it can be a winter wonderland during the off-season, its not unusual to have many days of dreary gray skies and fog that wears away the most sanguine spirit. Its the kind of weather that gets us burning through a whole morning figuring out how to get out, around and back without getting stuck who-knows-where. Welcome to the UP.