Presentation on theme: "Quick Intro We’re going to talk about the weather, and how it applies to your trip planning and execution. This isn’t about driving around boring holes."— Presentation transcript:
Quick Intro We’re going to talk about the weather, and how it applies to your trip planning and execution. This isn’t about driving around boring holes in the sky at your home airport – why not use your airplane to actually GO somewhere?
The Best Weather Planning Allow extra time to get there and back – the weather will be good sooner or later! This is the MOST IMPORTANT thing. Have plan “B” (and “C”) – not just for you, but for your passengers as well. Can you drive, if necessary? Or take a commercial flight? How important is the trip? That affects all of your decision making later on!
Personal Minimum Checklists (throw these away!) It’s the WHOLE weather picture, not just the numbers! THINK about the entire flight – what’s it going to be like? A lot of the time (MOST of the time), it’s about comfort (for you and your passengers), not so much about safety. Don’t sweat about the exact numbers – the forecast is just a guess anyway.
How badly do you want to go??? Of course this matters – anyone that says it doesn’t is pretending! The trick is to not do something dumb in the name of getting there or back. Compromise on comfort – but don’t do something dumb. Have options at all times – there are lots of airports!
A quick note – NOT about weather Maintain thy airplane! If it’s not your airplane, pay extra attention to every detail. Don’t get in your airplane, just out of maintenance, and fly into hard IFR – DUH! The LAST thing you need on a cross country flight with weather considerations is trouble with your airplane – REALLY!
Forms of Pestilence Wind (and associated turbulence) Thunderstorms Ice IFR Terrain We’ll consider each one of these factors, and how it affects your flight decision.
Wind On the ground along your route – Sure, it’s right up the runway at your destination. But what if you have to stop along the way? Consider what would happen if you had to make a crosswind landing enroute. – If the wind is howling on the ground, it’s probably bumpy!! – Do you or your passengers get motion sickness? It’s worse for the back seat passengers!!
Wind Aloft – How much is the wind aloft going to affect your airspeed? Will a different altitude help? – Frequently, you have the choice between bouncing along at a lower altitude or going more slowly at a higher altitude in smooth air – I always choose smooth over bumpy! – Turbulence AIRMETs are like the index of leading economic indicators. They’ve predicted 20 of the last 5 turbulence situations. The same applies to icing AIRMETs.
Wind Avoidance Try getting your flying done in the early morning or evening hours. While not technically “wind”, the heating of the ground in the afternoon hours makes for bumpy air at low altitudes – climb above the haze layer if you must fly on a hot afternoon – you’ll be able to see the TCU’s.
Thunderstorms Avoidance is paramount! A TCU is pretty scary, too – it doesn’t have to be a full blown thunderstorm to be awfully nasty! Don’t fly in IMC where there is any possibility of thunderstorms! If Scott Crossfield can’t do it, you probably can’t either.
Thunderstorm Detection In order of importance: – The “Mark One” eyeball – Oh, and maybe some on-board radar or a stormscope – Lastly, ATC, but don’t count on it!
Ice There’s more ice in a martini that I care to have on my airplane! What is your out?? – Known warm air below (not in the clouds, and above MVA) – Enough fuel to fly to an ice free area while “on top” – Airports with VFR conditions within range are very nice – Day
IMC – VFR Pilot Just because the TAF says “SCT”, don’t assume it won’t turn to “BKN” or “OVC”! If it’s forecast to be SCT020 at your destination, and turns out be OVC018 when you get there, you need to know where there is good weather within your fuel window! If you’re an IFR pilot, and there is any possibility of ice, then you are (or you should be) a VFR pilot! There are more VFR-into-IMC accidents than almost any other type. If it looks bad, stop! Turn around! Wait! Drive!
IMC – Instrument Pilot An instrument rating is not a ticket to go in any weather – be sensible, but use it to your advantage If the clouds below you are 1000’ above the ground, if you have trouble, you’re going to break out of the clouds on downwind. Know what’s down there – is it a wheat field, or downtown Pittsburgh?
Terrain Be aware of the terrain! TAFs are given in feet above the airport in question. If you are at ROA (for example), that’s a lot different than the altitude you have to fly to avoid the terrain, for example! Mountains make bumps and mountain waves! Large bodies of water are no fun to land in!
Personal minimums - again It’s the whole package on any given flight, not just the numbers. Sure, you can land in a 30kt crosswind. Sure, you can shoot a good ILS to 500’ above the airport. But – do you really want to shoot an ILS to 500’ in a 30kt crosswind? Even if you are capable – do you really want to?? I’m not brave!
Sources of Weather Information There are lots of places to get weather information. Use what works for you. I hate to say so, but a weather briefing from a FSS briefer may not give you the entire picture, unless you know what to ask for I’ll tell you what I use, but you may have something that works better for you – if so, use it! I only use 3 (or so) actual sites for weather planning We’ll talk about what to look for, wherever you decide to look.
Flight Planning Determine your “best case” route Consider that other routes may still get you there! You may want to avoid: – Mountains or other terrain obstacles – Overwater flight – And of course, bad weather
Easy “No Go” Decision Making Start with the big picture – Is there widespread bad weather between here and there? – Is there ice forecast widely along the route? – Is it too windy, or so bumpy that there are SIGMETs for turbulence? – Are there lots of thunderstorms or TCU’s along the route? – It might be nice tomorrow!
A quick note Look at the weather EVERY day – even if you have no intention of flying. Don’t just look HERE – look everywhere. An interesting exercise is to compare the METARs with the radar. Do it all the time – you’ll get to be good at it! Read the forecast discussions if you can. I think that this is the most important point of this seminar today.
There are two kinds of weather 1.The weather forecast 2.What you see out the windscreen 1.Is a total WAG 2.Is real Don’t expect the actual weather to match the forecast!
Weather Information AOPA (if you’re not a member, join!) – www.aopa.org/wx www.aopa.org/wx – Great weather graphics of all types ADDS – adds.aviationweather.gov – TAFs, METARs, Icing forecasts, PIREPs NWS – www.erh.noaa.gov/bgm/ (Binghamton) www.erh.noaa.gov/bgm – The plain old weather forecast! DUATS – Eventually, you need a briefing
Trip Planning Steps 1. Plan the route (can be in advance), but keep in mind that you might still go a different way 2. Look at the big picture - start days in advance – Prog charts – AOPA – Pay sites (WSI is excellent), if you feel flush – NWS forecasts – Look at the CREATED time and the VALID time on every chart – The farther in the future it is, the more of a WAG it is!
Trip Planning Steps 3.Check the TAFs along the route – Wind – Ceilings – Trend (follow the Trend rule – more later) 4. Icing – Can you stay VFR if there is icing? – Any FZRA? AIRMETS? PIREPS? 5. TSRA – Radar, TAF forecasts, AIRMETS/SIGMETS
Trip Planning Steps 6. PIREPS – Ceilings, cloud tops, ice, turbulence 7. OUTS – This may be the most important step of the process. If you DO go, and the weather doesn’t turn out to match the forecaster’s guess, what are you going to do? – You need SURE outs, not just an “I hope it will be OK”!
Weather Information - Preflight Ice – ADDS CIP/FIP page – Airmets – If you stay out of the clouds, you have a good chance of avoiding ice – If there’s ANY mention of FZRA in the forecast, stay home!
Chris’ Rule of TAFs Watch the TREND of TAFs If each subsequent TAF is better than the previous one, then the next one will better still, and you will be able to go. If each subsequent TAF is worse than the previous one, then the next one will be even worse, and you are probably not going!
TAF Management Do not “micromanage” the TAFs It’s not REALLY going to be exactly like it says when it says it is, unless maybe it says it’s going to be clear and a million for the next 24 hours. Do NOT rely on the TAF being accurate. If it says “SCT020”, think about what you’ll do if you get there and it’s “OVC018”!
Local Weather Phenomenon If it’s possible, you might try to gather some local weather information from a friend who lives near your destination (a pilot would be ideal) For example: – Wind patterns – Lake effect snow (like we have here in ITH) – Common fog occurrences
Enroute MOST IMPORTANT – LOOK at what’s out there! If it looks bad, maybe it is – don’t just blunder on ahead! Use the eyeball! On-board weather is VERY, VERY handy – worth every bit of what it costs. Most FBO’s have good flight planning desks – with Internet or WSI weather – just like being home. The trick is learning to interpret the weather quickly, through practice.
Enroute Trip Planning There are lots of flight planning software packages available, and some are free (FAA flight path tool, e.g.) Or, do it the old-fashioned way with taped- together charts (fun with kids!) Get the charts! Get the VFR charts even if you’re going IFR – it’s nice to know what’s down there, and it gives the pax something to look at! Get the charts for OFF your route as well – it might well become your route!
It’s only a “Plan” Although you can plan your fuel stops carefully, things don’t always go as planned – if your flight crosses many airports, you have a lot more options. Get to be good at the planning – so you can do it QUICKLY! Plan a lot of flights, even ones you don’t intend to fly!