|The following stories from the Aug. 03, 2012, edition of AOPA ePilot were provided to AOPA members who expressed an interest in the particular subject areas. Any AOPA member can receive information tailored to their areas of interest by updating their preferences online|
Light wind, heavy weather
Winds are light and there's a thin, high overcast. Thanks to an unexpected break from work, you have a chance to get out and fly.
A quick check of the local weather forecast promises tranquil conditions and at least six miles of visibility until late afternoon—and your trainer is available at 2 p.m.
The forecast for the period of your flight did contain one item that it might be wise to double check, so you resolve to do that after you arrive at the airport to take advantage of this serendipitous opportunity to get in some practice. Then, you promise yourself, you will check the meaning of the four-letter abbreviation that follows the visibility in this section of the serene terminal aerodrome forecast: “19007KT P6SM VCSH OVC100.”
Wait a minute—let‘s not be hasty. A better plan is to check the meaning of VCSH now, and then follow through with a closer study of the big weather picture.
What you would see if you took your time to make a thorough study of the weather might make you more wary of that peaceful sky. Starting at 4 p.m., this is what you can expect: “16007KT 2SM -RA BR SCT005 OVC012 PROB30 2700/2704 1SM TSRA BR BKN005CB.”
That would explain the possible rain showers in the vicinity of the TAF. Now go deeper and find out why that stormy weather is in the forecast.
Turns out that a warm front is approaching; the synopsis of the area forecast is calling for multiple cloud layers and widely scattered thunderstorms, possibly severe, with cumulonimbus cloud tops to Flight Level 450.
Surprised? Unlike cold fronts that are often preceded by tumultuous weather and may arrive amid great meteorological drama, warm fronts tend to take a stealthier approach, riding up over colder, denser air and gradually producing reduced visibility, low ceilings, and precipitation.
Cutting the timing of your VFR flight too close to the front's arrival might expose you to marginal weather, or worse. That’s why getting a full picture of the weather, and allowing a generous interval of time to complete your flight before conditions are expected to deteriorate, is a must—even for that local flight.
Know those abbreviations! If an area forecast’s categorical outlook says “OTLK…VFR TSRA.02Z MVFR CIG TSRA BR,” it may still be a while before you can fly.
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Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
Question: What does TBO mean for Part 91 reciprocating engines?
Answer: TBO stands for time between overhaul. It is a manufacturer’s recommendation for when an engine might be in need of an overhaul. The TBO number is only a recommendation and can be exceeded as long as an IA (inspector authorization) mechanic approves an engine for return to service following an annual or 100-hour inspection. Insurance companies often have different requirements though, so it is a good idea to check with your carrier to determine whether it will allow you to fly beyond the manufacturer’s TBO recommendation. For more on engine operations, read “Powerplant: Unwrapping the mystery behind your airplane’s energy source” from Flight Training.
Got a question for our technical services staff? Email [email protected] or call the Pilot Information Center, 800/872-2672. Don’t forget the online archive of “Final Exam” questions and answers, searchable by keyword or topic.