Tropical Weather

Entering the dog days of summer, our attention shifts to the south. Rich moisture, weaker winds, and an increase in thunderstorms are classic signs that tropical moisture has entered the forecast equations. The media also becomes filled with headlines about hurricanes and tropical storms. And perhaps your cross-country trips even take you south to the […]


On a warm summer afternoon, a two-ship flight consisting of a Beech A-36 Bonanza and a Piper PA-31 Navajo lifted off from Newport, Rhode Island. One made it through a looming storm; one didn’t. Short Trip The two airplanes made a gradual right turn to the southwest out over the grayish- blue waters of Rhode […]

Summer Patterns

Summertime almost certainly means vacations, cookouts, and maybe some time on the beach. There are airshows, fly-ins, $100 hamburgers, and of course AirVenture at the end of July. Whatever the destination, there’s a good chance you’ll be putting in some flight hours in the coming months. Flying outside your home area means unknown weather patterns […]

A Radar Primer

Radar, whether we’re talking air traffic control, thunderstorm detection, navigation, or even air combat, is a technology that has shaped the history of flight in countless ways. The word “radar” is an acronym (RAdio Detection And Ranging) and was coined in 1939 by the United States Army Signal Corps as it worked on these systems […]

Inside AWOS And ASOS

How many times have you heard a report like this? “Podunk Municipal airport, automated weather observation, 2347 Zulu. Weather, wind 050 at 12 knots, gust 23 knots. Visibility 7. Sky condition, clear below 12,000 feet. Temperature 29 Celsius, dew point 17 Celsius. Altimeter 30.00 inches of mercury. Remarks, intensive glider activity 20 miles north east […]


With summer approaching, we often think about those hot temperatures, high density altitudes, and storms. But another factor enters the picture: moisture. High relative humidity brings foggy mornings, and with soaring dewpoints comes the prospect for storms and rain. With moisture having such a profound impact on flight operations, it’s time to take a closer […]

Dangerous Radar Data

Another season of turbulent spring weather is just ahead, so it’s a good time to go over storm safety. We’ll do that once again by discussing a pertinent weather-related accident. Although at first glance the lessons might seem obvious, we’ll use this fateful ride-along to discuss some key concepts I’ve observed as a meteorologist, and […]

TAF Dissected

The Terminal Aerodrome Forecast, TAF, is a staple of aviation weather, known to almost every pilot. During my own Air Force career, I composed...

Understanding Fronts

Often, the word “front” raises anxiety and apprehension in aviation meteorology. It carries the possibility of showers and thunderstorms, signals a change in the weather...

Icing Revealed

Since the dawn of aviation, icing has emerged as one of the great hazards of flying. The 1994 American Eagle crash in Roselawn, Indiana,...

Autumn Weather

About the time this issue arrives, the U.S. will be heading toward the tail end of summer 2020. In just a matter of weeks...

Upper-Level Weather

Unless your flying is limited to local sightseeing in good weather, chances are you’ve used winds aloft charts at some point. For many commercial...