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ASI News:Rain or shine

It’s a beautiful day to double-check the weather

We’ve all probably looked at the weather forecast the day before a flight and seen it call for clear and a million, only to arrive at that forecast time to find the conditions anything but VFR (and our flight lesson rescheduled).
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Thankfully, the opposite can be true, too, and a call for low clouds can materialize into a perfect bluebird day.

Planning a flight when dealing with changing, variable weather can be daunting, but staying on the ground when the conditions are a shade less than perfect isn’t realistic. It’s important to fly with your CFI in a variety of conditions; it’ll help you better understand weather patterns, your personal limits, and the limits of the airplane. As you progress through training, last-minute weather changes should surprise you less and less—forecasts, while helpful, are a sometimes-inaccurate best guess.

One way or another, weather will be a factor in every flight you make, and it is a factor over which we pilots have no control. Learning to fly in a variety of conditions is helpful, but the most important action we can take to mitigate weather-related risk is to have a complete and accurate picture of the weather whenever we fly. This includes receiving an up-to-date briefing directly before your flight, and not just relying on the forecast or your CFI. The sooner you get into the habit of checking the current weather yourself, the better.

Sometimes a pilot can “get away” with not receiving updated weather, but other times, luck runs out. On the morning of April 19, 2018, a Cirrus SR22 carrying two occupants departed from Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania. The pilot and his passenger were bound for a conference in Indiana.

In between the travelers and their destination, however, was a large swath of hazardous icing conditions, instrument conditions, and mountain obscuration. Unfortunately, the pilot didn’t obtain a complete weather briefing, and took off unaware of just how bad the conditions en route would become.

Join the AOPA Air Safety Institute as we follow the Cirrus along its route in this accident recreation, which includes a look at a similar tragedy involving a Beechcraft Bonanza that occurred only three days prior to the Cirrus accident.

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Alyssa J. Miller

Alicia Herron

ASI Aviation Writer
Aviation writer Alicia Herron joined the AOPA Air Safety Institute in 2018. She is a multiengine-rated commercial pilot with advanced ground and instrument flight instructor certificates. Alicia is based in Los Angeles and enjoys tailwheel flying best.

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