Archive for weather avoidance

“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

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