Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Winter Weather

I've had a few emails lately from the scholarship applicants, frustrated with the winter weather, as it is delaying their progress toward their pilots' licenses. (Not everyone, however - Congratulations Cindy!).

Tongue in cheek, I replied to one:
We "professional" pilots - those that fly all the time, often joke: why should I look at the weather? It's not like we're NOT going to go... I know for training it's kind of tough working around the weather, but soon there will be very few weather events that will prevent you from going anywhere. Thunderstorms, icing, high winds, etc., at your destination, will eventually move on. Enroute, you just navigate around (or fly above) the icky stuff (thanks to some great in-flight weather radar and alert Air Traffic Controllers). Of course, we DO check the weather, not just because the FAA says we have to, but because it's the safe thing to do.

So why was your last commercial flight so late due to storms? Well, a large storm can funnel a lot of traffic into a smaller space. There are "arrival procedures" into airports coming from N, S, E, and W, and some of those may be shut down, forcing more airplanes to use fewer procedures. The same is true for "departure procedures." And even though a storm may be no where near your destination, the airlines have a domino effect. Late aircraft can send a ripple throughout the entire country!

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