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Radar Revealed

Twenty years ago, the idea of carrying sophisticated digital radar in anything under a medium twin would probably have been met with roars of laughter, but technology has brought amazing advances. Now its possible for even an ultralight pilot to use the Internet to access essentially the same tools that are available to forecasters.

Spring Icing surprise

My first winter of cargo flying meant dealing with ice every night. With spring came a sigh of relief that I could finally relax a bit. Boy was that wrong. Instead, I learned that although the temperatures may be warming up, the threat of icing remains throughout much of spring.

Predicting Future IFR

Sometimes the standard forecasts just arent enough. The area forecast (FA) and terminal forecasts (TAFs) are fine for anticipating the weather for the next day or so, but they simply dont extend out far enough in the future to tell you if IFR conditions might mess with your plans three days down the road.

Not believing your eyes

Whats the worst that should happen if that wide runway seems further away? Well, you could end up too high and go around or you could simply land long, risking an overrun. Embarrassing, to be sure, possibly with expensive damage, but seldom much worse than that.

Forecast-Wind Follies

If I were crowned king, my first decree would be to abolish the official winds and temperatures aloft forecast, also known as the FBWinds. Its an outdated product thats fraught with problems. The problems get compounded when pilots unknowingly misuse the forecast.

Stratus for ipad ADS-B

ADS-B weather for the iPad has been around for a while, but this is the first year pilots get some real choices. Baron released its Mobile Link with XM weather for the iPad. SkyRadar, which puts ADS-B weather into WingX on the iPad, just released a new device. FreeFlight Systems is promising an in-panel, complete ADS-B solution (traffic and weather) that will wirelessly send data to the iPad.

The Hail detector

Unless you are a weather geek, you probably have never heard of vertically integrated liquid (VIL). VIL is one of dozens of products generated by the same NWS radars that give us composite- and base-reflectivity images weve all come to know and love. Taking a peek at VIL wont revolutionize your use of NEXRAD, but it could warn you which cells are most likely to kick your butt.

West Coast Fog Monster

Fog along the West Coast of the United States has been documented as far back as the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th...

Spring Dust Storms

In March, 1933, Malcolm C. Harrison wrote in An Unusual Texas Duststorm, "Pilots were experiencing the same condition over North and Central Texas, all...

One Stop Web Weather?

At the AOPA Summit in October 2012 Lockheed Martin had a large and impressive display to announce the rollout of Flight Services (LMFS). Sigh…another...

Meteorology of Icing

Icing is one of the most feared hazards of flight. In the extreme, the aircraft becomes enshrouded in a thick, solid mass that reduces lift and thrust as the twin effects of drag and gravity overcome our ability to maintain controlled flight. Not only is the shape of our airfoils changed, but ice accumulation dramatically increases drag, clogs pitot tubes, jams control surfaces, blocks undercarriage doors, obstructs engine intakes, and the final insult, covers the windshield. We may not even be aware of how extensive the ice is until a high angle of attack or unusual power settings are required. At this point premature and significant aging may instantly occur within the cockpit.

Knowing Known Ice

Transitioning to your first aircraft that has ice protection equipment beyond a heated pitot tube is a big step for a pilot. Having a full complement of ice protection usually gives pilots warm fuzzy feelings about being able to complete more trips and handle any ice related problems that arise. Unfortunately, the current regulations and guidance addressing icing can be just as complex as dealing with the nuances of in-flight icing encounters.