Aircraft in cloudy sky
03 Sep 2015

Aviation Tips in Extreme Weather

If you have been following the weather in the US for over the last 6 months, you might have noticed that it has been pretty unpredictable and on some occasions, downright violent. However, thanks to some brave and talented storm chasers, Americans can come up-close and personal with the destructive force of tornadoes and better understand how they develop. While a vast majority of the images are produced by photographers on the ground the ones that really take our breath away are the ones taken from helicopters and airplanes to give us a birds-eye view.

The images were taken thousands of feet above the ground, which gives new meaning to the phrase, “the sky’s the limit”. However, that type of flying is not for every pilot. The ability to feel and instantly identify and correct every shake, shimmy and disturbance required to ensure the safety of everyone involved requires excruciating precision and skill.
However, the experience of such a seasoned pilot can be a valuable source of knowledge, especially when it comes to learning how to avoid the dangers of extreme weather.

Apparent Risks
Tailgating the storm can allow you to safely fly in stable air conditions, but you can switch your position as soon as the storm changes its direction. Plus, in order to avoid being hit by hail and/or turbulence it is always best to circle at the rear of the storm.

Although this is a no-brainer, you should never ever attempt to fly directly through the storm; a head on collision with the storm can prove to be fatal. And if it’s a tornado, you will risk being stuck in its unforgiving vortex. And there is no coming out of that.

Avoid Being Blindsided
Many pilots unintentionally find themselves driving through the cloud formation of a tornado, and while they survived, you can bet your flight stick that they will be really careful next time. The problem becomes serious when you think you are traveling away from the storm and suddenly notice that you are caught in the middle of it. The only way you can avoid being blindsided by extreme weather or a tornado is to try and keep your plane out of the clouds.

Distance Check
How can a pilot determine the 20 mile no-transgression zone during a thunderstorm build-up? Well, these days there is a plethora of aircraft tech that you can use to make life a little easier. You can incorporate the use of Rangefinders and Nexrad displays as well as moving maps.



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