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Schlagwort: weather

Believe GAFOR

Believe GAFOR

location: EDAV

Equipment: Mark I eyeball 

Wind: 170°, 6kts

The evening is sunny, visibility is great and the clouds are high. I’m getting ready for a night VFR training flight. Two days ago we had a full moon. So I don’t expect the night to be pitch black. Good training conditions.

When I do my flight planning in the afternoon, I check the METeorological Aerodrome Report (METAR) for the near by international airport. Low winds, great visibility, few clouds. When I check the less detailed General Aviation FORecast (GAFOR), I am surprised to see marginal conditions in my area.

GAFOR has the country split up in regions. My local area is number 18 and stretches from the Big City to the north and the east. Weather can be a very local thing and I always try to combine different sources to get a better picture.

When I call the airport, conditions over there are okay. A cold front is not expected to get to our area until tomorrow. So I decide to go. 

I catch a bit of the evening rush hour out of the city. When I finally make it to the outskirts and onto the highway, most of the other traffic slowly disappears. And so does the visibility. I’m driving into fog which seems to be coming out of nowhere. When I finally arrive at the airport, I can not see the end of the runway from the tower. Taking off is out of the question.

 Back home I see the bright moon and the glittering stars from my balcony. I toast them with my beer and go to bed. 

To be continued…


Instrument flying

Instrument flying

Visibility: right around 1.5 kilometers
Temperature: 11°C
QNH: 1014hPa
Location: EDAY
Equipment: Cessna 150 (D-EALX)

It is a miserable day with visibilities so close to the VFR minimums, that only the fact that it is Saturday is getting aircraft in the air. I arrive at the flight school and we start our morning with an extended theory lesson.

Around mid morning we go out to fly a few patterns to see if the visibility has improved. It has not. In the down wind leg we are just about able to see the runway.

Back in the briefing room, we continue theory of radio navigation. Today I am introduced to the concept of the VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Radio). This is a network of ground based radio stations. Their signal can be picked up by the VOR receiver in the aircraft which displays the relative position of the aircraft to the station.

We go through the theory. Then we simulate a trip on the computer. After that the flight instructor looks out of the window. The fog has not lifted. “Today would be a great day to get some real life experience” he says refering to the poor visibility. I’m game.

Our half hour trip will be a triangle to the south. My job will be to follow VOR and compass and to fly the aircraft without looking out of the window (there is not much to see out there anyway). The job of the flight instructor is to tell me the new headings at the way points.

We are departing to the south, following the VOR receiver in the cockpit to a close by VOR station. I hold the course and maintain the correct altitude. Maintaining the correct attitude with the artificial horizon is something new to me. It requires a lot of my concentration.

We use the VOR station as our first turning point and change the course to the north east. Again we follow its signal, this time to guide us away from the sender.

The next turning point, which will bring us on a western course back to the airport, is more complicated to find. We calculated the time after which we should get there and we know the heading for the last leg of the trip back home. As we are getting closer to the turning point, we start calling in to the airport to get our bearing.

At about 30 degrees south of the final bearing, I begin a left bank onto the new course. I peek out of the side window. Beneath the clouds and the fog I see something dark which may or may not be the lake that markes our way point.

We keep confirming the heading to the airport and before long, we see our home field through the mist. This was great training. I’m sure I will be tired tonight!

To be continued…


(originally posted on November 10, 2011 by tilbo at aloft.blog.com/instrument-flying/)

Rainy day

Rainy day

Grey sky with light spots, chance of rain
Temperature: 4°C
QNH: 1019hPa
Location: EDAY (Strausberg)
Equipment: MD3 Rider (D-MALJ)

The morning has been over cast and there were a few drops of rain earlier. But now the sky gets lighter and I have high hopes for good weather as I do my pre-flight.

I check in with the tower and start taxiing to the runway. A large rain drop lands right in the middle of the wind shield with a thud. It is slowly being smeared across the plexi glass by the wind of the propeller. The flight instructor is not concerned. We have checked the weather radar in the flight school and the tower did not expect more rain either.

By the time we have reached the runway, the single rain drop is in the middle of a family reunion. Not a big problem, the sky still looks relatively light. The aircraft does not have wind shield wipers but as I push the throttle forward for take off, the propeller blows the screen clear of the rain.

The vertical visibility in the traffic pattern is around the legal minimum of 1.5 kilometers. On the crosswind leg of the departure (the first 90 degree turn after take-off) I have to be able to see to the end of the runway (1.2 kilometers) and a bit beyond that. I see the road behind the runway, because I know it’s there.

We do one touch and go, still hoping the rain shower is going to go away. On the downwind leg of the second round we lose visibility of the runway. The aircraft is shaking, the rain is getting stronger by the second. An Individual rain drop is coming through a crack and lands on my arm. The propeller is not blowing the rain away from the wind shield any more but blowing more water onto it. I’m having a difficult time keeping the runway in sight on the base leg. After landing we taxi over to the hangar. The sky is now black, only minutes after we were still hoping for sun.

13 minutes, 2 landings and dryining off the aircraft. Actually that was a good lesson about weather!

To be continued…


(Originally posted on March 16, 2011 by tilbo at aloft.blog.com/rainy-day/)