Posted by: Brian | February 21, 2010

Week 4 down…

I just completed my fourth week of ground school yesterday.  This should have ended my sixth week, but the last two weeks were cancelled due to inclement weather here on the east coast.  You may have heard about it. 🙂  It was good to get back to the airport, though.  We discussed weather pretty much all day, ranging from the different types of clouds and why they form to flight planning.  It was oddly boring, yet interesting at the same time.  Bless those meteorologists who like doing that for a living (understanding weather, that is).  I did learn a ton of interesting information, though.

Probably the most interesting piece of information I learned had to do with flight planning.  The example was, say you have a cloud base of 5,000′ AGL and we are flying to Cincinnati.  That involves flying over some mountainous areas.  Let’s say, and this is just for the sake of numbers and this example, that the mountain peak you are crossing is 4,000′.  Well, as a VFR pilot, we are required to remain a certain distance from clouds (we are not allowed to fly in them until we become IFR – Instrument Flight Rules – rated).  IFR provides the training to fly by your instruments vs. looking out of your windscreen.  Anyway, those distances are 500′ below, 1000′ above and 2000′ to the side of clouds.  Since I am required to stay 500′ below the cloud, that means that I’m flying 500′ above the mountain peak.  That is awfully close, especially since you typically deal with crazy winds around and over mountain ranges.  You really want to avoid those lenticular clouds on the other side of the mountain.  The look smooth and rounded – like a lens.  This is because of the wind whipping around and over the mountain top, and around the cloud making it smooth.  Very turbulent at best to pilots.   Great information to know.  This means that along my route, I should continually obtain inflight weather advisories, as well as understanding my terrain that I will be crossing.

I am scheduled for a couple of sessions this coming week, so I will keep my fingers crossed they pan out.  The snow banks are starting to melt on the sides of the runway, but we are due for some more snow next week.  The reports I read range from a light dusting to a ‘wintry mix’.  I guess we’ll see what that means when it comes.  I wish persistence forecasting was more accurate.  🙂  It is beautiful today.

~ Brian


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