Archive for thunderstorms

“Sea of Gold,” Greg’s November, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2017 by Greg Brown

We’d cleared a nasty line of thunderstorms departing Flagstaff, surmounted a vivid rainbow, and now cruised cumulus-flecked skies toward Montrose, Colorado.

Although datalink weather suggested clear sailing the rest of the way, I’d previously learned the hard way that an empty weather screen doesn’t necessarily equal “no thunderstorms.” After an unknown-to-anyone squall line turned us around halfway to Montrose last year, I’d discovered the large weather-radar gap spanning the Four Corners area due to lack of antennae.

We’d been so traumatized by last year’s “U-Turn” and Jean’s subsequent 16-hour round-trip drive, that she’d investigated flying airlines this year instead. But between such remote locations, general aviation can indeed save money. Yes, Flying Carpet fuel would cost $4-500 to drop and retrieve Jean and her mother, but far less convenient Phoenix-to-Grand Junction airline tickets priced out at $750 apiece.

FC-RainReflections_KFLG_5135eSmw1200Fortunately, I’d learned from last year’s misadventure. This time I previewed online weather-radar coverage maps, and ADS-B ground-station coverage from which we’d receive weather and traffic data. (Sure enough, there’s an ADS-B gap, too.) I loaded lots of fuel for the remote route, allowing hundreds of miles’ diversion in case of unforecast weather.

Given minimal radar coverage, I monitored satellite imagery for telltale cloud buildups. And along with gathering weather for the few airports within 100 miles of our route, I scanned non-aviation station reports for the tiny Native American communities passing under our wings. Even “sunny,” “cloudy,” and “thunderstorm,” reports are better than nothing.

Even then, every distant shadow raised the specter of last year’s lurking weather…

**Read Greg’s entire column, SEA OF GOLD“**

Top Photo: “‘Flaming’ autumn aspens carpet Colorado’s Uncampaghre Plateau.” (See my “Flaming Autumn Aspens” Fine Art Metal Print) Lower Photo: “Greeted by a downpour upon returning home.” SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“Good omen?” Greg’s October, 2017 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips with tags , , , , , on September 1, 2017 by Greg Brown

“Oh no! Not again!” said Jean when we arrived at the hangar. “This trip seems jinxed!”

A gargantuan steel-grey cloud wall spat lightning across the eastern sky, having sprouted in the hour since I last checked weather.

“Not a good omen so early in the morning,” I muttered to Jean’s chagrin. This was my second attempt to deliver her and her mother to visit relatives in Montrose, Colorado. Last year an unforecast and unreported 100-mile squall line turned us back mid-route, forcing my passengers to drive eight hours instead. It turns out that blank cockpit-weather displays don’t necessarily mean storm-free skies—a huge weather radar gap spans the Four Corners region and not even Flight Service knows what’s there. At least this year I knew weather avoidance would be strictly out the windshield for part of the trip, valuable planning knowledge where usable airports are hundreds of miles apart.

That assumed we could depart in the first place. Despite forecast clear skies, the north-south line of thunderstorms entirely blocked our northeasterly route, and daytime heating threatened further development. Could we safely circumvent the fast-growing line before it engulfed our airport? And if we could, what hazards might lurk in the weather-radar gap beyond?…

**Read the entire column, GOOD OMEN?“**

Photo: “Earth-bound rainbow south of Flagstaff, Arizona.” (Available as my “Earthbound Rainbow” Fine Art Metal Print.)

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

Greg

©2017 Gregory N. Brown

“U-Turn,” Greg’s July, 2016 Flying Carpet column

Posted in flying adventures, Flying Carpet column, Greg's piloting tips, Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , on May 26, 2016 by Greg Brown

Knowledge is power

GregBrownFT716_3743-Edit-2Smw1200For pilots, knowledge is power. Today’s broad aviation weather access contributes immeasurably to flight safety by allowing us to anticipate and plan for what lies ahead. Without it, we return to the dark ages of flying.

Recently Jean proposed picking up her mother Marge in Phoenix, and from there visiting her brother in Montrose, Colorado. Phoenix to Montrose is a long flight for the uninitiated— 3½ hours through often-turbulent desert skies. What’s more, Marge is in her eighties and limited in mobility. Most any precautionary landing site along this remote route would lack people, water, or shade, with help potentially hours away. Oh, and another brother was flying in from Chicago, making the schedule immutable. So as much as I love piloting, I suggested dropping Jean in Phoenix, where she and Marge could hop a 1-hour commercial flight instead.

“Mom says she’d rather go by Flying Carpet than airlines,” Jean answered with finality, but she did compromise. After retrieving Marge in Phoenix she suggested we overnight in Flagstaff before proceeding, thereby shortening our Montrose flight by an hour. Although helpful, that didn’t relieve my concerns. But at least Jean and Marge had made an informed decision.

Pilots outside the intermountain west may not easily picture a 275nm route with virtually no attended airports, minimal weather reporting, limited ATC radar and voice communications, marginal to non-existent weather radar coverage*, and 14,000-foot peaks surrounding the destination…

**READ THIS MONTH’S ENTIRE COLUMN, U-TURN.”**

Photo: A ridge-top “sucker hole” materializes under a line of thunderstorms near Kayenta, Arizona.

SEE MORE PHOTOS!

(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)

Greg

* Check out the NEXRAD weather radar national coverage map. NE Arizona to SW Colorado features one of the biggest weather radar coverage gaps in the country.

©2016 Gregory N.Brown

Greg’s affordable new “Sunset Rains” Metal Print!

Posted in Greg's photographs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2015 by Greg Brown

20x30-SunsetRains-MetalPrint_2960-EditeSmw1200I’m pleased to announce the first of my trendy and affordable new “Views from the Flying Carpet” Metal Prints.

Order my new Sunset Rains 20″ x 30″ Metal Print for just $295* through the month of March!

20x30-SunsetRains-MetalPrint_2957eSmw1200I am genuinely thrilled with the quality and fidelity of this series, and believe you will be too.

The success of my ongoing museum-quality “Views from the Flying Carpet” Fine Art C-prints crafted by Master Printer Richard Jackson has been incredibly rewarding, with pieces exhibited in numerous museum shows and placed in private and corporate collections as far away as Australia. New Fine Art Print images are in the works.

20x30-SunsetRains-MetalPrint_2959-EditeSmw1200Plenty of folks, however, have expressed eagerness to own a Flying Carpet print while foregoing the cachet of museum quality and collector documentation to fit tighter budgets. Therefore my specific objective with these new metal prints is to offer superb image quality at affordable prices.

Each metal print delivers ready-to-hang on a frameless back mount that floats it 1/2″ off the wall. (See right and below.) This approximates the museum-mount appearance I prefer on my Fine Art Prints, while helping to keep them affordable. Each open edition print incorporates my signature mark. (Unlike my Fine Art Prints, these come without certificates of authenticity.)

20x30-SunsetRains-MetalPrint_2962eSmw1200I selected generous 20″ x 30″ dimensions to deliver the largest possible size while optimizig value and minimizing shipping costs. I predict you’ll be thrilled as I am with these impactful and gorgeous prints.

My museum-quality Fine Art collector series C-prints custom-crafted by Master Printer Richard Jackson will of course continue to be available.

Thank you!!
Greg

PS: In order to personally proof each new image in my metal print series, I’m extending Flagstaff-area customers the $295 price for the first-time metal-print order of any specific Flying Carpet image allowing me to receive, proof, and locally deliver. So if you have your eye on a print other than Sunset Rains, now’s the time to order! (See available images. Contact me directly to order.)

* Plus shipping and/or sales tax. (Just $20.50 shipping to the continental US. Contact me for shipping costs to other destinations.)

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