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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 […]
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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 hundreds of TAFs for pilots not too different from you. In this article we’ll take an inside look at this tool in a more readable format than you’re probably used to. […]
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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 regime, and means the distinct possibility of a busted forecast. Thankfully there’s nothing to fear. Fronts are now well understood— computer models have become excellent at handling the underlying air masses […]
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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, shows that this problem has dogged aviation well into the modern era and called the bluff of even trained and experienced pilots. Even in the 2000s, when numerical forecasting had become […]
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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 the U.S. will begin its slow spiral into winter. While training material and aviation weather books are full of information about winter flying, along with its hazards like icing, CAT, and […]
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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 and military pilots, they’re a staple of the preflight weather briefing, and they’re easily found on sites like aviationweather.gov.  These charts are constructed by weather centers at a series of designated […]
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You Could Fly a Cat II ILS

Category I ILS approaches, long our low-weather mainstay, offer us minimums as low as 200 feet above the touchdown zone with RVR 1800 feet or higher. That’s low, but as it develops, not as low as you can go. CAT II approach approval opens about 160 public CAT II approaches to GA, easing access to […]
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Wind Shear

When the jet age arrived in 1959, little was known about wind shear. Aviation was focused on thunderstorm avoidance. In Joseph George’s compilation of Eastern Air Line’s forecasting techniques from that era, we find thunderstorms described in terms of turbulence, icing, and hail hazards. As jet aircraft were equipped with radar, it was assumed that […]
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Weather Deconstructed

There’s an old Buddhist saying that the fool sees only the form, while the enlightened person sees the essence. It’s strange to think that religion could give us any insight into aviation weather. But in the same way that gods tend to be elusive, many of the important details in the atmosphere are unseeable and […]
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Great Plains Weather

For some, flying is just braving the traffic pattern or short, local flights. But serious long-distance flying or commercial operations will eventually bring you to the heart of the Great Plains. Meteorology captivated me because of the incredibly turbulent and strange weather in this area. I chased tornadoes for 15 years and forecasted weather for […]
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An Icy ODP

Rime ice giving your Cessna 210 a quarter-inch coating was the inbound surprise to Mission Field in Livingston, Montana. As one accustomed to life without ice protection, you were careful in the planning and had an alternate, but you simply didn’t expect to pick up that much extra drag on approach. Still, cloud levels were […]
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How We Die, Part 2

Too many pilots have died because they attempted instrument flight without a thorough working knowledge of their GPS navigators. Do you need to know...