Spring time is better, but brings more Active Weather

When it comes to flying, there are many hazards and warnings you should consider before each flight. One major factor that every pilot should consider before each flight is the weather, especially when it comes to thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are no laughing matter and as pilots we must take them seriously, and execute the safest plan for ourselves, flight crew, and passengers. So, for this week’s blog I want to discuss the dangers of thunderstorms when it comes to flying and what action you should take when dealing with a possible thunderstorm.

Thunderstorm Stages and development

For me personally, I’ve lived here in Oklahoma for the past twelve years, and I’ve seen my fair share of severe thunderstorms during the spring time, and especially since I live in the heart of tornado alley. So how does a thunderstorm develop. The three main ingredients that you need for the development of a thunderstorm are an unstable atmosphere, a lifting force, and moisture in the atmosphere. Typically, thunderstorms will most of the time develop along some form of a frontal system like a cold front, or a dryline; however, that’s not always the case, but you do see it happen quite often.

Now how can you tell if a storm is strengthening or weakening? Well once again thunderstorms have three life cycles, the first being the cumulus stage which is mainly classified my continuous updrafts. This is when you are looking at the clouds and they look like they are getting bigger and going much higher into the atmosphere. The next stage is the mature stage, and this is the stage when you begin to see visible precipitation starting to fall. And finally, you have the dissipating stage, which is when the storm is starting to weaken and is classified by continuous down drafts.

photo credits to the National Weather service station

Dangers Associated with flight

Now when it comes to flying, it is never safe to fly through a thunderstorm since there are many hazards and risk when it comes to a thunderstorm. The first major risk a thunderstorm imposes on flying is the increase and sudden changes of winds. When a thunderstorm is passing, the storm will often bring strong to severe winds, that can change in any direction. In fact, two major hazard that the winds and rain of a thunderstorm brings is wind shear and microburst, which can cost nearly any aircraft to be flipped over or thrown off the runway if they are in the takeoff or landing stage. Another major hazard, is the fact that thunderstorms will bring severe downdrafts. This can cause for an airplane to stall even when the pilots put in full power, because of how strong the downdrafts are the pilots may have a hard time getting the aircraft out of a stall. Hail & icing is another major factor in a thunderstorm, because if you are flying and having hail stones or even rain droplets hitting your aircraft, and you are in a layer of freezing temperatures; it can cause for you angle of attack to increase as well as increasing the weight of your aircraft. And finally, with any thunderstorm a hazard that any of us should consider is lightning, because that can be the key sign of whether a storm is severe, or strengthening.

How to avoid flying into a storm

So, what should you do if your deciding whether if it’s safe to fly or not; or what happens if you encounter a storm during your flight? Well hopefully before each flight, you all do what I do and check the latest weather reports, and make sure everything lines up together. Check the latest METAR’s, TAF reports, area forecast, Prog charts, and even pilot reports to see what everyone is reporting as far as flying. If it doesn’t look promising, don’t be stupid and go, just wait it out or make a no-go decision. Now let’s say you are in flight and you see a line of storms that you hadn’t predicted you would encounter. Well first off, try getting in contact with the latest flight service station to see if you can get an update on the weather or line of storms near you. If they deem it as being severe, let ATC know that you need to divert to an airport and stay away from those storms. But for some of you all who fly bigger and faster aircrafts, you may decide to divert around the storms and not fly through them. If this is the case again let ATC know and use a rule of thumb to avoid the thunderstorms by at least 20 miles because you can still feel some of the storms effects even when you are still a few miles away from them. In conclusion, just use the see and avoid rule as I’ve always been taught.

 Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”

Oh and here is a link to the photos I told you all about last week form our aviation banquet, I figured it would be easier to use this rather than uploading a ton.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/r84ukittbbr7afr/AAA7VqwJyeJxLeIrdV_WMZw4a?dl=0

Also, I want to highly encourage you all to consider applying for the 2017-2018 Calvin L Carrithers scholarship, believe me I thought I wouldn’t be selected as a recipient, but it’s been a true honor and privilege of being selected for this past year and I’ve really enjoyed sharing my experiences of blogging them and I look to keep blogging for the next few years. So, if you’re looking for some scholarship money to cover aviation expenses I encourage you to apply!!

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The 17th annual University of Oklahoma Spring Banquet

First off I want to apologize for not posting in a while I’ve been battling a rare and weird illness along with Easter and having a bunch of test doesn’t leave a lot of free time. With the end of the year quickly approaching, this past week here at the University of Oklahoma the department of Aviation got to celebrate our year, with our 17th annual Aviation Banquet at the Memorial Union on campus Thursday April 20th. So, I thought I would share with you all our successes from this past year as well as some of mine.

Every year our department has a contest where students get to submit a theme for the banquet, and I decided to submit my idea “Adventure is OUt there” since I love the movie up, and it has OU in the theme. After the department faculty voted, I received good news that my idea was selected as this year’s theme which was extremely exciting.

(Photo credit to the OU aviation Department)

After our director of the department welcomed everyone to the banquet, and ate dinner we then moved on to our guest speaker Dr. Melchor J. Antunano who is the director of the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute here in Oklahoma City, and who has won numerous awards and recognition form countries all over the world for his work in the aviation industry . During his speech, Dr. Antunano talked about how airplane companies like Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, and many other companies have evolved the design of their aircraft over the past few decades and what we are to expect from them in the years to come as far as their design process. Another unique topic that he discussed in his speech was how safety has vastly improved over the past few years. For example, Dr. Antunano talked about how the Airbus A380 had to pass the emergency evacuation test for it to become certified for flight by the FAA. He stated and even showed us the video of an airbus A380 filled with passengers (782 people) and they had to evacuate the aircraft in 90 seconds or less. As we watched the video it was like watching a scene out of a movie where people were just evacuating the aircraft at record speed and in-fact they finished the evacuation in 80 seconds, so it was awesome to see how the A380 is evacuated during an emergency and being certified by the FAA.

Dr. Melchor J. Antunano

(Photo credit to the FAA)

Finally, we then moved on to our award portion of the banquet where we recognized our soon to be graduating seniors, our spring 2017 scholarship winners, and recognizing our student organizations. As we recognized our graduating seniors, the biggest thing that stood out to everyone was the fact that over the past year we had lost nine of our flight instructors, and assistant chief flight instructors to the airlines, and military services; in addition, we will soon be losing few, but still big congratulations to the class of 2017! Next, we moved on to our scholarship recipients where I was fortunate enough to receive the Christiansen Aviation scholarship from the department to help with flight fees, and it was also awesome to see my fellow peers win a few scholarship awards as well. Finally, to finish off the night by recognizing all the student organizations in the aviation department. From the air traffic control club, the Sooner Aviation Club, the Women in aviation club, our AAAE organization, and even recognizing this past year’s flight team, overall it was a very successful year for each organization and an outstanding year in general. In fact, I also found out that I was elected Treasurer for the Sooner Aviation Club for next year, which I’m looking forward too.

In the end, it was a night filled with recognizing another successful year here at the University of Oklahoma aviation department and I certainly hope that next year will be even more successful then this year. In addition, it also was a night to remember since I got to see how active I’ve been in the department, as well as being with my fellow peers and seeing how much they’ve succeeded over the past school year. Also, I’ll post a few more pictures from the banquet in next weeks blog since I’m having trouble uploading the ones I took on my phone.

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”

Also, I want to highly encourage you all to consider applying for the 2017-2018 Calvin L Carrithers scholarship, believe me I thought I wouldn’t be selected as a recipient, but it’s been a true honor and privilege of being selected for this past year and I’ve really enjoyed sharing my experiences of blogging them and I look to keep blogging for the next few years. So, if you’re looking for some scholarship money to cover aviation expenses I encourage you to apply!!

My longest Cross Country flight of my flying career

Holy cow it’s already April, and I don’t know how you guys feel but this semester is zooming by very quickly. This past week here at the University of Oklahoma the weather has been a huge pain in the neck with all the rain, and storm systems that keep sweeping the area. In fact, Tuesday night we picked up four inches of rain in the Norman area alone, so I’m sure you all can imagine trying to fly this past week has been nearly impossible. While the weather has been uncooperative for flying, I was able to go on my longest cross country flight from Norman to Amarillo Texas, and I wanted to share with you all my experience from being on a five-hour solo cross country.

Monday morning, I woke up to low hanging clouds which concerned me because I knew if they didn’t clear up by noon, I would not be going. Luckily the clouds did begin to taper off for perfectly clear weather all the way to Amarillo. After filing my flight plan and getting the aircraft signed out, I started up the aircraft and took off out of Norman shortly after the 2:30 pm (14:30) heading to Amarillo. The great thing about this flight is that there is a major highway (I-44) that runs directly from Oklahoma City to Amarillo, so if my GPS, or foreflight failed on me I could use that as a VFR waypoint to get to Amarillo.

Another unique feature that I realized on my way to Amarillo was the drastic change in elevation as I got closer to Amarillo. In my flight plan I filed to fly at 6,500, and in Norman the airport elevation is 1,182msl so I was really flying around 5,000 ft above the ground. Yet, as I started getting further out west I went, the higher the elevation got and the closer I was getting to the ground. In fact, when I was beginning to arrive into Amarillo the airport elevation there is around 3,450 msl; so, I was only about 3,000 ft above the ground when I began descending into Amarillo.

(Photo Credits to Amarillo International website)

I landed in Amarillo a little after 5:00 pm (17:00) and only had time to make a fuel stop at the local FBO before I had to be on my way back to Norman. I’m sure as you all can imagine Amarillo is not a big airport with a lot of planes that come and go, but it was really cool to be so close to the few that were there and to imagine that maybe one day I’ll be the pilot of one of those aircrafts stopping in Amarillo, Texas. Once I filed for my flight back to Norman, and the Aircraft was all fueled up, I started up the aircraft and was on my way back to Norman. As I was rolling out to the runway, I was following behind a Southwest Airline Boeing 737, and had an Envoy CRJ 700 following behind me, so I was sandwiched between two airline aircrafts.

Once the Southwest Airline took off it was my turn to takeoff and I was notified by ATC to try and make a clearing turn once I was up in the air so that I could get out of the way of the CRJ 700, which was extremely exciting to see how fast it got up into the air and was right behind me during the departure out of Amarillo. As for the next two and a half hours of flight it was just me and the aircraft heading back to Norman trying to race against the sun before it fully set, so it was sort of different going from day cross country flying into night cross country. Finally, at around 8:00 pm (20:00) I made my final descent into Norman completing the five-hour cross country, the longest flight and cross country that I’ve ever flown.

Overall, I did enjoy the flight, but if there’s one thing I do hate about doing these long cross countries is that it can get very boring and lonely. Like I said I had to do this as a solo cross country, and since I had no one else to talk to but myself, you easily get bored with just talking to yourself (especially when it’s 5hrs of just yourself), and it was sort of boring just watching windmill farm after windmill farm pass by, but again I enjoyed some of the unique features of western Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas.

Well guys that’s it for this week’s blog, Also, make sure to check out https://blog.globalair.com/  for other great blogs and featured stories on other pilot stories as well as other reviews on aviation related articles. As always guys remember that “adventure is out there!”