Pilots are ALWAYS watching the weather

Like it or not, learning to fly involves learning about and having a keen interest in the weather.

During your pilot training there is much focus on learning the basics of meteorology, and for good reason!  It’s important for pilots to know how the weather works and how it impacts flight operations.

Learning about meteorology is one thing.  Putting your knowledge to the test is another.  It’s called “practical application” and it happens every time you plan a flight AND take to the skies.

I’m amazed at the stories of pilots (students as well as seasoned certificated aviators) who plan the flight, then fly the plan without any other thought to the possibility that the actual or forecast weather may be a little different than planned.

So how do you “always” watch the weather?  Apps, apps, apps aplenty.  That is perhaps the best way to always stay on top of weather reports and the latest conditions, but beware!  Make sure you are getting good, solid information from a reliable source.

Many of the Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs) have built-in weather data and are a fine source for metars, tafs, radar images, etc.  Just make sure the data is actually updating.  3-hour old radar imagery showing clear skies will do nothing for you as you plow ahead into a squall line.

Since everyone carries a phone with them at all times nowadays, there’s always the old standby of flight service.  You know, FSS?  Remember the number?  1-800-wx-brief.  Boy, that was simple.

Of course, there is no substitute for common sense.  I was once flying with a fairly new student and noticed a rapidly developing rain shower a few miles from the airport.  It developed so fast,

turning from scattered clouds into a downpour in about 10 minutes, that ONE radar image wouldn’t have captured the essence of what was going on before our very eyes.  A quick trip “straight to the numbers” and onto the runway yielded us a safe path on the ground…in a blinding, driving rain.  Luckily you don’t need an IFR clearance for ground ops.

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