Checking out the terminal forecast as an early winter storm makes its way out of the region, you can tell that it will be a while before marginal visibility, low clouds, and showery precipitation make a complete exit.
No sense rushing out to the airport just yet. And, as you read the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), you note that it concludes with an unfamiliar section that begins with the letters WS, followed by wind data:
181800Z 1818/1918 08012KT 6SM -RA OVC010 FM181900 08014G21KT 3SM -RA OVC008 FM190600 07012KT 2SM -RA OVC003 FM190900 05010KT 2SM -RASN OVC003 FM191300 02010KT 1SM -SN OVC003 WS020/08040KT
Good thing you noticed that item! The passage contains an alert for expected wind shear, which is a hazard to any aircraft of any size. That’s why air traffic control actively solicits pilot reports about wind shear encounters.
To review: “Wind shear refers to winds in the same area blowing in different directions, or at different speeds, or both. This shear creates turbulence by creating rolling motions,” wrote Jack Williams in his Weather column, “A clearer view of invisible winds,” in the March 2011 Flight Training.
“The greater the difference in wind speed or in wind direction, the stronger the turbulence will be,” he added.
The Aeronautical Information Manual’s explanation of TAF elements describes how WS information is presented. You will find it in section (e), containing so-called optional data. “Wind shear is the forecast of nonconvective low level winds (up to 2,000 feet). The forecast includes the letters ‘WS’ followed by the height of the wind shear, the wind direction and wind speed at the indicated height and the ending letters ‘KT’ (knots). Height is given in hundreds of feet (AGL) up to and including 2,000 feet. Wind shear is encoded with the contraction ‘WS,’ followed by a three-digit height, slant character ‘/,’ and winds at the height indicated in the same format as surface winds. The wind shear element is omitted if not expected to occur,” it says.
If you noted that the alerts discuss “nonconvective” wind shear, remember that when convective activity is present or expected, it is always wise to be on guard for wind shear (or much better, on the ground). “Any time thunderstorms are forecast near an airport you should expect wind shear and turbulence,” advised Williams.
Flight Training News
A pilot’s quest to understand a small but haunting critical mistake he made as pilot in command—and help others avoid similar errors—led to the development of the Air Safety Institute’s most-viewed new product of 2012. Read more >>
Answers for Pilots: Ah, the islands!
Looking for a tropical escape from winter chills? After reviewing these requirements, you’ll be ready for a general aviation flight from the United States to the Bahamas. In addition to the clear turquoise waters and white sand, there’s a contest this year and next, sponsored by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and administered by PilotMall.com, to encourage you to do some island hopping. Read more >>
AOPA Flying Club Network unveils newsletter
The AOPA Flying Club Network has launched the first issue of Club Connector, a monthly newsletter that spotlights the latest flying club news. This month’s issue includes an interview with AOPA Senior Vice President of the Center to Advance the Pilot Community Adam Smith, a question of the month on FBO relationships, a poll on Internet scheduling systems, a profile of the Blue Skies Aviation Association, and information about how to organize a fly-out to the Bahamas. Read more >>
Scholarship America tracks aviation scholarships
Scholarship America has compiled a list of places that students can tap when looking for funds to help pay for aviation careers. Among those they recommend are the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation; The Ninety-Nines Inc., International Organization of Women Pilots; the Aircraft Electronics Association Educational Foundation; and the Aero Club of New England.
Apply for Helicopter Foundation International scholarships
Dec. 31 is the deadline to apply for the Helicopter Foundation International’s Commercial Helicopter Rating, Maintenance Technician Certificate, Bill Sanderson Aviation Maintenance Technician, and Michelle North Safety scholarships. The scholarship program was created to help fill the need for qualified commercial helicopter pilots and helicopter maintenance technicians.
Georgia Business Aviation Association offers scholarships
The Georgia Business Aviation Association has opened applications for its 2013 scholarship program for its members. It is giving up to $4,000 each for those pursuing continuing education. Scholarships of $9,100 are being awarded to those interested in attending executive education courses at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business for courses in managing the corporate aviation function or developing leadership capability.
Texas aviation foundation urges pilots to PLEDGE
The Texas Aviation Association Foundation is urging pilots to join its PLEDGE program, created to help cut general aviation accident rates, reports General Aviation News . The acronym PLEDGE covers six items that research has found are the leading causes of GA accidents.
Air Safety Institute offers ‘Chart Challenge’ live seminar
What would we do without charts? They’re one of the most fundamental parts of flying—but they can also be challenging to interpret, difficult to read, and sometimes head-scratchingly confusing. This new Air Safety Institute live seminar is meant to help you master them. Find a location near you >>
The checklist is one of the least expensive yet most effective safety devices available in the cockpit. Not following a checklist could have dire consequences. Check out this informative article from Flight Training and continue to browse the magazine’s archives for a wealth of information to help you achieve your goal of obtaining your pilot certificate.
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time) or from Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you’re not already a member, join today and get the pilot’s edge. Login information is available online.
AOPA Live: Best videos of 2012
Fly along in the French Alps as we land on some of the most challenging airports on Earth. Fly in a B-29 with the first woman to solo one. We head to New Zealand for an epic flight. Fly with us in a radical new piston twin. And get a behind-the-scenes look at AOPA Live This Week from the show’s producers. Watch it all in AOPA Live This Week, the Directors’ Cut 2012. AOPA Live This Week’s next show will air Jan. 10.
Future of GA sparks debate at Wichita event
A debate about whether Wichita, Kan., is or will continue to be the Air Capital of the World kicked off the annual On-Air Summit hosted by the Wichita Aero Club on Dec. 12. Leading aviation editors, including AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines, debated that subject and many others during the session. Read more >>
US Airways proposes merger with American
AMR Corp.’s new contract with pilots at its American Airlines subsidiary has paved the way for a formal proposal from US Airways Group to merge with American, which has operated under bankruptcy protection since November 2011. The proposed merger could value the combined airline at around $8.5 billion, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Delta, Virgin Atlantic announce alliance
Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. have announced an agreement for a new joint venture that will create an expanded trans-Atlantic network. Under the agreement, Delta will invest $360 million in Virgin Atlantic, acquiring a 49-percent stake currently held by Singapore Airlines.
For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.
If it’s a high-wing taildragger that looks like a boat, a plane spotter can count on this much: It is a boat. That explains those funny-looking objects out near the ends of the wings called sponsons that aid taxiing on water. And look at that turned-around propeller—a pusher—mounted above and rearward of the cabin. This could be a Republic Seabee, a 215-horsepower, high-maintenance curiosity that was even flown in an early James Bond movie, and is still a star at gatherings of seaplanes, amphibs, and classics.
Sporty’s offers its Study Buddy Test Prep to help get you ready for the FAA written test. It offers a free online version, a premium version that offers answers with explanations, and flashcards and apps on the iOS and Android platforms. Users can create customized study sessions, take randomly generated practice tests, and use learning mode to select specific aeronautical knowledge areas.
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.
Are your insurance policies overdue for their annual inspection?
As the new year begins, it’s the perfect time to review your insurance policies. A lot can happen in a year and your coverage needs may have changed. Read more >>
Don’t be left out
Flight Training Technical Editor Jill Tallman recently took a photo en route to her home base of Frederick Municipal Airport. Believe it or not, it was her first night flight in years. As nice as night flight is, it’s not her favorite. The prospect of losing an engine at night is a little intimidating. Her night vision isn’t great, and she had never flown her 1964 Piper Cherokee 140 at night. Read more >>
My flight training story
Let’s Go Flying guest blogger David Gianna is a high-time student working toward a private pilot certificate. He posts about having to endure many obstacles and postponing or delaying his training numerous times. Read more >>
In the early 1900s, Juan de la Cierva, a Spanish aviator who built airplanes and gliders, unknowingly helped with the development of the helicopter. When one of his airplane prototypes crashed on its second flight during a low-speed stall, he decided to try to find a way to allow airplanes to fly slower. Read more >>
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER