Wx Watch

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Wx Watch: All Fogged Up

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2001

Let's say it's early evening and you're busy planning a flight for the following day. The forecast is for high pressure and clear skies all along your route and, to add to the good preflight vibrations, a walk in the night air reveals a crystal-clear, star-studded firmament devoid of a single cloud.

Wx Watch: Chart Reading Between the Lines

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2001

Every pilot ought to be able to interpret weather charts and make some simple forecasting assumptions — without any help from a flight service briefer or a DUATS printout. Why? Well, you never know when you'll be stuck somewhere without a full array of weather briefing products, without Internet access, and be forced into a briefing that relies on rapid-fire FSS verbal barrages over a pay telephone and no more graphics than a 12-hour-old surface analysis chart tacked on a bulletin board.

Wx Watch: Working the Wind

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2001

Pilots can view strong winds as either a curse or a blessing. Fifty-knot tailwinds aloft for that long cross-country flight? Great! Twenty gusting to 30 knots, blowing at 90 degrees to your destination's 2,000-foot-long, 50-foot-wide active runway? Bad, bad news.

Wx Watch: OASIS--and Other Visions

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2001

Complaining about blown forecasts and various other flight service briefing shortcomings is a nationwide pilot pastime. But don't think that we've got the market cornered on weather gripes.

Wx Watch: Tops Troubles

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2000

Who wants to slog along beneath an overcast, unable to see very well in the turbulence, fog, and haze that so frequently live there, hoping that high terrain or obstacles aren't ahead? No one! On a long cross-country, flying below a low cloud deck can be downright unsafe. Should engine or other troubles beset you, there's less gliding range and less time to set up for an emergency off-field landing.

Wx Watch: Icing Insights, Part 2

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2000

In last month's "WxWatch" we discussed the basics of icing, including the various types of icing formations and the conditions under which they form. In this second installment it's time to take action.

Wx Watch: Icing Insights

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2000

Every pilot knows—or certainly ought to know—that airframe icing represents one of flying's greatest hazards. Textbooks and the more thorough accident reports address these subjects frequently, but a seasonal reminder is always in order.

Wx Watch: Skew T-Time

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2000

Mention Skew T Log P charts, and the temptation is to head for the tall grass. Even die-hard weather freaks can find them confusing, and they're certainly difficult for neophytes to plot and interpret.

Wx Watch: Center Weather Advisories

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2000

On the afternoon of April 4, 1977, a Southern Airways Douglas DC–9 flew through a line of severe thunderstorms over New Hope, Georgia. Hail cracked the airplane's windshield.

Wx Watch: Sigmet Details

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2000

In last month's "WxWatch," we discussed airmets and touched on why so many pilots seem to ignore them. "The same routine warnings…you guys are ‘crying wolf,'" was a flight service briefer's impression of how pilots view airmets.

Wx Watch: The Scoop on Airmets

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2000

I once asked a flight service station briefer to give me the first word that pops into pilots’ minds when he mentions the word airmet. It was an attempt at word association.

Wx Watch: Ahead of the Weather

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2000

One of the phrases continually tossed around in aviation circles has to do with a pilot’s ability to anticipate. "He’s behind the airplane," one flight instructor might say to another, speaking of a student’s problems with slowing down an airplane in the traffic pattern or with setting up navigation equipment for an approach.

Wx Watch: Weather on the Web, Revisited

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2000

What’s that saying? "The three biggest days of your life are the day you meet your future wife, the day you marry her, and the day your first child is born." Or maybe it’s the day you see that spiffy red, white, and blue airplane; the day you buy her; and the day you pass the keys to her next wide-eyed owner. No? OK, what about the day you first soloed? Let’s start with that.

Wx Watch: Flunking the Wx Test: Test Results

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2000

Back in AOPA Pilot's January 2000 installment of "Wx Watch," we talked about some of the problem areas surrounding the issue of weather education. The central thrust of the piece (see "Wx Watch: Flunking the Weather Test," January Pilot) was that, in light of accident statistics, our current methods of teaching aviation weather seem to be inadequate in that they don't prepare us for real-world weather encounters.

Wx Watch: LIFR Signs

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2000

Some instrument-rated pilots like to think that just because they have the rating in their wallets, they can take on the lowest ceilings and visibilities. But as any pilot with a fair amount of actual instrument time can tell you, low IFR conditions (ceilings less than 500 feet and/or visibilities less than one statute mile) pose some serious operational considerations.

Wx Watch: Flunking the Wx Test

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2000

When it comes to weather smarts, it often seems as though the entire general aviation educational community collectively gnashes its teeth. That's because it can be frustrating to look at accident reports and statistics and observe dangerous, recurring patterns.

Wx Watch: Blow Those Boots

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 1999

"One hundred and twenty miles an hour! Only a few minutes before we were cruising at one hundred seventy ... We must not lose any more ...

Wx Watch: Eyes on the Sky

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 1999

Ever since automated weather observations made their debut, pilots have complained about the problems associated with the observations' lack of a human element. ASOS (automated surface observation system) and AWOS (automated weather observation system), for example, use laser beam ceilometers (LBCs) to determine the height of any clouds or cloud layers above the observing stations.

Wx Watch: Fighting Freezing Rain

Article | Sep 01, 1999

Locked within the deep recesses of our pilot brains reside all sorts of weather-related fears. For some, those fears are strong enough to prevent a takeoff — or bring about a landing — when instrument meteorological conditions, marginal VFR conditions, or other types of lousy weather are lurking.

Wx Watch: High-Wind Warnings

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 1999

Ask any pilot — new student or grizzled vet — what's most likely to cause a pre-landing rise in blood pressure, and the answer is likely to be the same: rip-roaring surface winds. More specifically, rip-roaring crosswind components.

Wx Watch: Riding the Waves

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 1999

Has this ever happened to you? You're flying to the lee (downwind) of a mountain range or ridge line, and you notice that the airplane is making an uncommanded descent. When you try to correct the problem, the airplane ends up climbing past the target altitude.

Wx Watch: Seeing Red

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 1999

"I've got radar" is a phrase that moves pilots to boast or envy. Why? Because there's a common assumption that by avoiding precipitation echoes on a radar screen, you'll enjoy safe, smooth rides around — and maybe even through — the nastiest thunderstorm cells.

Wx Watch: Seeing Sparks

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 1999

The invention of lightning detection equipment was a significant advance for general aviation. Compared to the price ($25,000 and up — way up), weight (25 to 40 pounds), and display requirements of weather radars, lightning detection equipment is cheap ($4,000 to $15,000), light (about 5 to 10 pounds), and small enough to fit just about anywhere on the smallest airplane's instrument panel.

Wx Watch: Searching for Sigmets

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 1999

Thunderstorm season is upon us, and with it comes the need to thoroughly check for convective advisories. These are available via many National Weather Service products: Convective Outlooks (abbreviated "AC" in text); Severe Weather Outlook Charts; Radar Summary Charts; Sigmets (WSs); Convective Sigmets (WSTs); Center Weather Advisories (CWAs); and Radar Reports (Rareps).

Wx Watch: Ill Winds

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 1999

Wind shear and turbulence are as aggravating as they are potentially dangerous. Turbulent atmospheric motions occur frequently enough that pilots need to be savvy about where and why they can happen, and know what to do when they strike.