Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

By Dan McDowell
MnDOT Aeronautics 

Changes and challenges

 

Photo Courtesy of Minnesota Flyer

Every aviator who has taken the winter off from flying is now feeling a great excitement to get back into the air. The urge to fly is strong as the renewal of life pushes bright green chutes up through leftover piles of snow, or quickly expanding buds on bushes and tree branches rejuvenates our spirits.

Spring is beautiful but its weather is at best, fickle. One may be brushing snow off aircraft wings and windscreens one day, and adjusting flight plans and alternates to avoid towering thunderstorms the next day. Another day there may be a torrential downpour, and the next, freezing rain and sleet.

Changing seasonal weather requires pilots at all experience levels to plan their flights well and consistently practice good judgment.

The wise pilot will always get a detailed weather briefing before taking off. Knowing what the weather is, or is likely to be along your planned route of fight is vitally important to every aviator's safety.

As the sun climbs higher in the spring sky each day, the atmosphere has more time to warm and absorb huge amounts of heat energy. This warming of the atmosphere can, and often does cause significant meteorological instability. This, in turn, can cause very rapid and sometimes very violent changes in the weather.

Thunderstorms can quickly pop up and form a line that can extend for many miles along a developing front. Wind shear, hail, lightning, down-bursts, and tornadoes can all be products of a thunderstorm.

So be sure to plan ahead before you take off. Get a detailed weather briefing. Use good, sound judgment in your decision making about this and every flight you plan to make. That will help assure you enjoy your flight in spring, with all its changes and challenges.

 

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