This is a first in respect to ‘my comments’, I hope my comments will be informative. They will generally reflect what is happening at present and will include technical information for Flight Instructors and students.
We are now in the month of September after a brief but cold winter, I do not like the cold days so typical of an Anticyclone. From a normal persons point of view these days are to be held as a chance to indulge in outside activities such as flying. I want to point out that an Anticyclone has hidden dangers, namely:
The chance of frost, all ice adhering to an aeroplane surface needs to be taken off by whatever means before flight. We have lately set up a Course on ‘Winter Flying’ and more information relating to icing conditions can be found, but any change in aerofoil shape will be felt in how an aircraft behaves in flight.
The chance of windscreen fogging and loss of vision, particularly whilst taxiing can be frustrating and serve as a distraction.
The weather itself can be hazardous; anticylonic gloom is common and can catch out the unwary pilot. Low cloud base with drizzle is symptomatic of stable conditions but can make flying difficult.
Sun strike as evening approaches and cloud shadows can create real problems not only for aircraft in the circuit but also for aircraft needing to climb above terrain. We cover these aspects in our Mountain Flying course.
A cloudless day can fool the pilot in to believing he/she has adequate daylight left, but twilight conditions are short in winter, and it can be surprising on descent from say 6000’ how the light conditions can change.
I am always wary when on a fine day the windsock does not show any life. My landings are usually a little heavier, the approach in respect to groundspeed faster, wind can be your friend on the approach.
Thankfully winter is now behind us, at least in the northern latitudes. What we have now are days where the disturbed southwesterly airflow dominates. Flying can be done most days, however it becomes a problem for students without many hours. Instructors need a visible horizon for many lessons and a forecast that does not indicate ‘severe turbulence’ Frequent rain showers associated with cumuliform cloud such as towering cumulus are common and the changes in the conditions with the movement of these clouds are described in the TAF as ‘Tempo’. For students on their first cross-countries they can be unsettling as visibility is reduced down to say 6000 metres. How far is 6000 metres?
Check the distance of Auckland International airport and then you can make a comparison, maybe Ardmore is better as we do not have the chance to make an approach into Auckland normally unless you are making an Instrument approach.
Cross wind circuits are now the norm most days with the attendant turbulence. Look at it as a good thing as your flying skills are often developed on such days but be aware of the your responsibilities if things go wrong such as a poor heavy landing in these conditions. As a pilot you should be aware that an aircraft might need to be checked after such a landing.
It is the season of night flying at present with daylight savings soon to start. Ardmore has restrictions and pilots need to read the Ardmore Operations Manual carefully to ensure that we comply.
We have developed SOPS (standard operating procedures) for most things now and flying at night is one such procedure.. How we operate and how we make decisions based on weather and traffic numbers is mentioned.
A point to make, once a student has the privilege endorsed by an Instructor for their night rating does not mean that a planned flight should include arriving back after ECT. We have recently down loaded and printed out accident reports and one such accident involved an aircraft flying VFR back to New Plymouth at Night from North Shore. It is better to learn from other people’s mistakes.
BE CAREFUL OUT THERE.
Eagle Flight Training