Back in the good old days, there was a lot of scud running and not much real IFR. A lot of us thought that the best way to improve the general aviation safety picture would be to get more people into IFR flying. But one of life’s simplest pleasures comes in realizing that you were wrong about something and that is true here.
In the last 20 years, we’ve conducted a war on scud-running, placing this technique in the same league as smoking and drunk driving. While the latter two deserve their bad reputations, I think we’ve gone too far with scud-running. A recent trip in a helicopter shows why.
A thunderstorm is, by nature, unstable. That relates both to the atmosphere that creates and supports it and to the capricious nature of the storm. They are constantly changing, literally from moment to moment, and where one flight might pass through with a bit of turbulence, one a minute later might encounter a severe wind shear.
After the tragic crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Florida, Richard Collins reflects on flying with family. He says, “One of the reasons I became such a weather geek over the years was if I was going to fly my family in clouds, I was going to understand everything there was to know about those clouds.” Does flying with family change the way you fly?
This Go or No Go is a little different. The scenario I’ll present is an actual flight I had planned, and I was faced with a tough decision. I’ll show the weather conditions that were forecast and my plan, then I’ll let you decide if you would have flown the trip. Later, I’ll share whether I decided go or no go.
Manchester, NH (MHT) to Pittsburgh, PA (AGC) is the goal today so you can deliver your Piper Lance to the avionics shop for a new panel. The trip has been on the calendar for weeks and you’re excited to see a glass panel go in your airplane, but Mother Nature isn’t going to make it easy on you.
The 172 touched down at I69, just another Cessna making a landing at this busy flight training airport. But this flight was different, and this Cessna hadn’t come from the practice area. In fact, as I taxied N51766 to the ramp, I felt a sense of accomplishment I had never experienced before. This was the end of a 1600 mile journey from California to Cincinnati–and I really felt like a pilot.
Richard Collins has spent over 20,000 hours up close and personal with weather. In this article, he shares one guiding principle for dealing with weather–what you see and feel is what you get. Based on that, he offers 10 more rules for weather flying.
A weekend flying trip is on the calendar today, as you’re scheduled to attend a family reunion in Springfield, MO. Your flight will depart from Olive Branch Airport (OLV), just outside of Memphis, TN and arrive at the Springfield Branson Airport (SGF). Your proposed departure time is 1630Z. It’s time to make the go/no go call.
Some instrument pilots apparently are uncomfortable in anything less than clear skies and unlimited visibility. It raises the question: do you cancel too many flights? Has the aviation community beaten everyone over the head with the risk management stick so much that they’re gun shy? From what I read and hear, I think it’s quite possible.
Business calls today, and you need to get from your home base in Santa Barbara, California (KSBA) to San Francisco (KSFO) for an important meeting. There’s a bit of fog on the coast of California, but you are instrument-rated and current. Do you make the trip?
Your planned flight today is from Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport (KBKL) to the Claremont Municipal (KCNH) in New Hampshire. Since you do not have an instrument rating, the flight will be VFR, but your Cirrus SR-20 is well-equipped. Vacation awaits–will low clouds cancel your getaway?
Read how a family trip meant to prove the utility of general aviation goes wrong, and changes the way this pilot flies. He suggests you “take the long view when implementing your family-flying Grand Plan.”
This article is the first in a series called “Go or No Go?” We’ll present actual weather conditions for a planned trip. You study the forecast and tell us if you would fly the trip or stay on the ground–and why.
It was a dark and stormy night. Sounds like the opening line of a bad novel, but the night of May 24, 1996, was dark and stormy as we rocked our way in a 172 from St. Louis to Cincinnati Lunken. We pushed the envelope beyond reason and might not have seen the dawn except for a piece of luck that arrived at precisely the right instant.
We are all salesmen to a certain extent when we fly with family. We want to prove that all the money and time we spend on airplanes is worth it, and brings value to the entire family. But you only have to be wrong once, and the airplane doesn’t care if this trip really counts, and it doesn’t care if your family is on board.
Both the FAA and NTSB tend to suddenly discover things that have long been a factor and make a big deal out of them. One or more accidents usually gets this ball in motion. The latest hot button, from the NTSB, is what they choose to call tailwind landings. In what could have been a deadly serious accident, but wasn’t, an American Airlines 737 went off the end of the runway at Kingston, Jamaica.
Occlusions don’t happen too frequently. I guess I might have had to deal with a dozen or so in 57 years of flying. But when one does present itself, you can get a better ride if you know what is going on and make a plan to avoid the worst of it.
Let’s get the geek business out of the way first. If a person who has an abiding interest in weather, especially as it relates to flight operations, is a geek, then I am a weather geek. Highs and lows are what make the weather engine go. Highs aren’t exciting, lows can be full of thrills. I was reminded of this when we had that October snowstorm in the northeast.
This past September, the Northeast U.S. was plagued by “the low that wouldn’t go away.” This cutoff low-pressure system sat and spun for two weeks bringing daily gloom from the Mid Atlantic to Maine. Unfortunately, in the midst of this crummy weather, I was scheduled to give a talk at AOPA’s Summit in Hartford, Connecticut on September 24th.