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When the Wind Blows

There’s no phenomena that shapes the flying experience quite like wind. It’s almost always present in some form. A crosswind makes for tricky landings, a gusty wind brings a bumpy flight, and a strong tailwind buys you an extra 15 minutes at your destination. It makes sense that this temperamental, fickle element should get an […]

Take Your Time

Scenic trips over the mountains out west often require creative flight planning. The smaller the aircraft, the more “scenic” the trip. That’s the whole point, so not worrying about how long it takes to make the final destination goes a long way to lighten the risk burden. Then, go in good weather to enjoy the […]

Forecast Models

From the 1930s until the 1980s, many pilots got their weather briefings from a meteorologist at a flight service station or airline dispatch counter. The counter often ended up being a center of discussion about the World Series and chatting with other pilots who arrived for their briefing. Those in-person briefings gave way to weather […]

GOES Satellite Imagery

You’ve probably heard someone tossing around the term “GOES satellite” at one time or another. This refers to a NOAA satellite program that has been in operation for 47 years. GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, in other words, a weather satellite that’s parked 22,236 miles (35,786 km) above the Earth’s surface, directly above […]

The Severe Storm

Strong thunderstorms are one of the places aviation and fear often intersect. And for good reason: severe storms have led to countless disasters, perhaps the most famous one being the Delta L-1011 crash at DFW Airport in 1985. That tragedy brought far-reaching consequences to flight training programs and ATC equipment, and led to advances in […]

Frontal Weather

Now that we’re staring at the weather picture from the depths of winter, perhaps you’ve been re-acquainted with how fronts make an impact on the weather. Fronts truly form one of the building blocks of meteorology. In the Air Force forecasting school I attended years ago, fronts were the very first topic that followed the […]

Changing of the Guard

You’re flying along, listening to a controller issue instructions to many aircraft. From one second to the next, you suddenly start hearing a different controller’s voice. You haven’t changed frequencies. They’re seemingly picking up where the first one left off. Controllers are used to hearing voice changes from an aircraft. Many times a day, I’ll […]

Ice Is Not Nice

Icing affects flight operations in many ways. Accordingly, we offer some thought-provoking reports from pilots who’ve been there. Little has been said about instrument malfunctions due to icing, and we discuss those in particular. Chilly Carburetors An instrument-rated Commercial pilot operating VFR experienced a sudden power interruption in his Cessna 150, followed by a surge […]

Vertical Air Movement

Heading into another winter season, our thoughts begin shifting to cold-weather flying hazards—fog, icing, and widespread precipitation. Most pilot training considers each of these...

Reading the Sky

Part of being able to forecast comes from reading the sky, because so much of what’s taking place in the atmosphere can be seen visually. When I worked the forecast counter in the Air Force, I occasionally stepped over to the window for a quick look while filling out the weather briefing forms. The pilots […]

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...

Not-So-Gentle-T-Storms

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...