Weather in Flight

Weather in Flight

For most people, checking the weather is a simple matter of sticking a hand out the window. Cold? Wear a scarf. Raining? Get a jacket. But for pilots, the weather report is not so straightforward. Weather conditions, good or bad, have a dramatic impact on how an aircraft needs to be flown, so knowing the weather in intimate detail is an essential part of the pilot’s job; pilots must work with the weather, never against it. Coast Flight Training embraces this paradigm and therefore spares no effort to make sure pilots know how to assess and respond to various types of weather conditions.

Gauging the Weather

Weather is described in two ways: what is happening currently (observation), and what is going to happen soon (forecast). Both types of information are useful to pilots, and are equally important to know. Both are available via a variety of reporting formats.

Observation:

  • METAR: The most common source of weather information for pilots worldwide, these are issued mainly by airports.
  • Radar summary report: Information about precipitation.
  • U.A. reports: Probably the best source, these are reported by pilots in the air and give real time weather conditions.

Forecasts come through a separate set of reports, including:

  • Terminal aerodrome report (TAF): Provided by some—but not all—airports, these are predictions for the local area in the immediate future.
  • Area forecast (FA): Explains the reasons for weather conditions.
  • 12 and 24-hour prognostic reports: Predicts where pressures and fronts will move.

Stay Informed, Stay Safe

Pilots must become comfortable reading these and other weather reports so they can stay abreast of the most current situations and fly accordingly. Before flying, check these reports and make a careful “go/no-go” decision. While in the air, continue to check for updates and adjust your flight plan whenever necessary. Know your personal limits and those of the aircraft so the weather can remain a friend and not become an enemy.

The Surface Prognostic (Prog) Charts are available at the Aviation Digital Data Services