The power of a thunderstorm should not be ignored. Learn to rely on the weather resources you have to ensure a safe flight.
If you think a weather-related accident can't happen to you, read about the experiences of your fellow aviators in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Real Pilot Stories. Read how to steer clear of storms and what to do if you are caught by one in the AOPA Thunderstorm Avoidance subject report.
If thunderstorms occur after you're already in the air, you need to figure out exactly where it is safe to fly. On-board weather radar - if you have it - will help you navigate around the storms. Air traffic control can also be a valuable source of information. ATC weather radar services as well as strategies for dealing with stormy weather are detailed in the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's Safety Advisor, Thunderstorms and ATC .
In 2004, 25 percent of general aviation's fatal weather accidents were a result of pilots flying into convective activity. The WeatherWise: Thunderstorms and ATC online course includes re-creations of real-world accidents caused by pilots flying into precipitation, recent changes in ATC terminology used to describe precipitation, and tips on how to communicate with ATC to make sure you know what services are being provided. It also covers how to gather weather information based on what ATC is telling other pilots and discusses additional weather resources.
The WeatherWise DVD is devoted to practical weather flying for GA pilots. It includes tips for estimating storm intensities along a frontal boundary, when to believe the flight service briefer's "VFR not recommended" warning, plus simple ways to perform a "validation check" on forecasts. Visit the AOPA Air Safety Foundation's online store to snag a copy.
Other online courses include SkySpotter: Pireps Made Easy , which will show you how to get, use, and give pilot reports; and the minicourse Datalink , which explains datalink, what it can bring to the cockpit, and how to use it safely.
Enhance your knowledge, skill, and judgment by reading " Flying Seasons: Storm Savvy," by Thomas A. Horne in the June AOPA Pilot. Keep an eye out for another of Horne's thunderstorm-related articles titled "Wx Watch: Tools of the Trade." It's in the July issue, which should be in your mailbox in the next couple of weeks.
June 14, 2007