It’s certain that you have taken an important leap forward in your aviation weather knowledge when you can study an outlook briefing and know that tomorrow morning’s cross-country departure will likely be delayed by fog.
Forecast conditions—clear skies, no wind—invite the formation of radiation fog, and as expected, the morning brings an obscured ceiling and low visibility. Visual meteorological conditions and light winds are expected to take hold eventually, so you head for the airport to preflight your trainer and update the weather. Perhaps conditions at the destination—which also is reporting low IFR conditions—will improve.
An hour later the ceiling is lifting, and you can see breaks in the overcast. The trend is confirmed by surface weather observations along your proposed route, as temperatures and dew points diverge.
So, why do conditions at the destination airport remain unchanged even though an airport just a few miles away was one of the first to go “severe clear” on this beautiful day?
Perhaps the information is erroneous. But a check of notices to airmen reveals no outage of the automated weather observation system. There have been no pilot reports at this early hour, so you take the bull by the horns by calling the destination’s fixed-base operation, where someone confirms that the place is still fogged in.
“We get a lot of valley fog here. It’s bad today,” says a friendly voice on the phone.
Studying for your knowledge test, you learned about radiation, advection, and precipitation fog, but valley fog?
“Valley fog refers to radiation fog that forms as cool air moves down into a valley. If you’ve ever driven on foggy nights you've probably noticed fog covering the low places in the road while the hilltops are clear,” explains this Flight Training magazine article, also noting that in winter, “valley fog can linger for days because the air never warms above the dew point.”
Fortunately, it’s spring now. But as you look at the destination on your sectional chart, insight takes hold when you perceive that the airport, unlike the one nearby, nestles along a riverbank between sharp ridges.
Now those seemingly conflicting surface reports make sense—and you can apply this added element of your flight-planning skill to the preparation for your next cross-country.
Flight Training News
Pilots can get weather on their iPad through Bendix/King’s myWingMan electronic flight bag. The app’s latest release includes Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) weather with prog charts, graphical winds aloft, METARs, and TAFs. And, students and flight instructors at Part 141 schools could get a break on the price. Bendix/King announced its educational support program that provides complimentary copies of myWingMan’s IFR subscription to career-track students and their CFIs. Read more >>
Pilots recommend weather radar apps
With spring here and summer around the corner, more thunderstorms and precipitation could be popping up. Check out these weather radar apps that could be helpful in providing updated information on your smartphone or tablet. Read more >>
Redbird launches AOPA Jay, growing sim community
Students and pilots who want to practice fly-in procedures to summer events or test their skills with new flight situations have a new option for a personal flight simulator, Redbird Flight Simulations announced April 10. Redbird officially launched the AOPA Jay, a single out-of-the-box simulator unit, during the Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In & Expo. “The goal for Jay was simple,” Redbird founder Jerry Gregoire explained to AOPA Editor in Chief Tom Haines in “This bird really flies” in AOPA Pilot. “If my mom can’t take it out of the box, plug it in, turn it on, and have it up and running, then it is too complicated.” Read Haines’ detailed report >>
Starr Aviation latest to join Think Global Flight effort
Aviation underwriter Starr Aviation has joined ranks with companies including Jeppesen, Garmin, Cirrus Aircraft, and Guidance Aviation to support Think Global Flight’s worldwide effort to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to elementary school children across the globe. The Think Global Flight crew will fly around the world in a Cirrus SR20 G3 donated by Guidance Aviation of Prescott, Ariz., stopping at schools in numerous countries to promote STEM education.
SAFE offers K-12 classroom teacher grant for 2013
The Society of Aviation & Flight Educators Inc. (SAFE) is offering a $250 grant for a K through 12 teacher or group of teachers to design an aviation-themed classroom unit or complete an aviation-themed project. “Aviation and aerospace topics are the perfect adjunct for teaching science, math, history, and even art,” the organization said.
Flying with your head
One of the more stressful tasks required of pilots, especially those who are low time or still in training, is radio communications. Don’t know what to say to the tower, or what to say or do when entering the traffic pattern at a nontowered facility? The Air Safety Institute has compiled a one-stop spot for resources on this and more. Visit the Air Safety Institute’s “Operations at Airports” Safety Spotlight.
Seeing is believing
Nearly all attitude and heading indicators in aircraft today are powered by pneumatic pumps, better known as the “vacuum” system. These pumps are important, and their failure can affect other equipment, like autopilots and de-icing devices. Learn more about how they work, and how to avoid and cope with their potential failures by taking the Air Safety Institute’s Pneumatic Systems online course. Take the course >>
Spring can be a capricious time of year when it comes to planning a flight. When you start the cross-country phase of your training, AOPA’s weather tools can help you. Plan a theoretical flight and check radar, surface analysis, METARs, and other reports to see whether your proposed trip could actually get off the ground. Ask your flight instructor to check your findings.
Did you know that student pilots who join AOPA are three times more likely to complete their flight training? Membership includes unlimited access to aviation information by phone (800/USA-AOPA, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time) or from Flight Training Online or AOPA Online. If you’re not already a member, join today and get the pilot’s edge. Login information is available online.
AOPA Live covers Sun ’n Fun
The AOPA Live® team was out and about at the 2013 Sun ’n Fun International Fly-In & Expo in Lakeland, Fla. Hear how President and CEO John “Lites” Leenhouts managed the threatened closure of the tower at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. Check out hundreds of aircraft on display. Watch AOPA Live >>
Airlines want cash for 787 groundings
Two early customers of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner indicated they wanted immediate cash credits—and not discounts on future jet orders—as compensation for the Dreamliner’s worldwide grounding since January. Japan’s All Nippon Airways has 17 of the clean-sheet twinjets and has canceled more than 3,600 flights through the end of May because of the groundings, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Boeing demos new 787 battery system
Boeing announced April 5 that it had completed the final certification test flight for the new battery system in the 787. The airplane departed Paine Field in Everett, Wash., with a crew of 11, including two representatives from the FAA, Boeing said, and flew for one hour and 49 minutes.
Airwolf Aviation to host open house on career pilot training
Airwolf Aviation will host an open house on April 27 at South Carolina’s Greenville Downtown Airport. The open house will allow visitors to see the Airwolf facility and ask questions about career pilot training. Topics to be covered include steps to becoming a professional pilot, associated costs, financing options, time commitment, and average salaries.
For more aviation career news, see the Flight Training website.
If the sound of a radial engine can instantly empty hangars and terminal buildings as the occupants rush outside to see what’s coming in, imagine the effect of two rumbling radials on an airport population. If a low-winged taildragger with two vertical fins taxies in, you can expect many of the onlookers to stampede back inside for their cameras, because they won’t want to miss the chance to photograph a 1930s-era Beechcraft Model 18, which still flies in a variety of roles, such as hauling freight for Florida's Aztec Airways.
Sporty’s unveils iPad Mini kneeboard
Sporty’s is now offering the iPad Mini slimline kneeboard. The kneeboard is a simple mounting surface with elastic straps on the corners for holding an iPad Mini. The knee strap can be orientated for portrait or landscape viewing. The cost is $15.95.
Note: Products listed have not been evaluated by ePilot editors unless otherwise noted. AOPA assumes no responsibility for products or services listed or for claims or actions by manufacturers or vendors.
For the last seven decades, AOPA has relied on the support of its members to become the most powerful voice in general aviation. The association owes its strength and many accomplishments to you and nearly 400,000 members across the country. Find out what AOPA means to your fellow members and staff, and share this video with your friends. Watch the video >>
‘As is’: Powerful words when buying or selling an aircraft
In aviation, we see many terms. One that can often be misunderstood or subject to interpretation and debate is the term “as is.” The term is commonly used in aviation sales and lease transactions, whether it’s an airplane, an instrument, or a hangar. In the legal practice, it is almost always after the fact that the import of the term is truly understood by the parties. Therefore, it is important to understand what the term may mean to you before signing on the bottom line. Read more >>
EA+ puts someone on your side during an emergency
An unexpected emergency at home is stressful, but imagine if you were traveling away from home and suffered a major illness or injury. You may find yourself in an unfamiliar hospital that is unable to treat your specific condition. Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+) will ensure you are transferred to an adequate facility and then get you back home if you cannot continue your trip. And, since transportation is medically necessary and fully arranged for you by EA+ coordinators, it would also be paid for by the EA+ program. Read more >>
Pilots love to fly new equipment, and blogger Chip Wright says he’s no different. Back when he was able to fly general aviation all the time, Wright said he was the first one on the ramp asking for a ride in whatever new piece of metal or plastic would show up. It didn’t matter if it was a homebuilt or factory-made, because he just wanted to fly it. He would beg and plead—usually to no avail. He occasionally got lucky and got try out a new—to him, anyway—kind of airplane. Read more >>
Flying it forward
March was a fun aviation month for blogger Brittney Miculka. She did a lot of flying, attended the International Women in Aviation Conference in Nashville, Tenn., and even better, got to introduce quite a few women in her local area to general aviation. Women of Aviation Worldwide Week was held March 4 through 10 and her home airport participated in a contest called Women Fly it Forward. Read more >>
Want to run a flightseeing business like David Snell?
David Snell, the entrepreneurial soul who runs Starlight Flights in Dallas, Texas—and that’s just one of his three businesses—says he knew AOPA Pilot readers would be interested in what he does. And he was right. Read more >>
AOPA Career Opportunities
Ever dream of turning your passion for aviation into a career? We’re looking for an advertising marketing manager; mid-level gift specialist; network support engineer; aviation technical specialist; staff assistant/PAC coordinator; president, AOPA Insurance Services; office services supervisor; major gifts officer; and director of outreach and events. To learn more about other AOPA career opportunities, visit AOPA Online.
AVIATION EVENTS & WEATHER