VFR Rain

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by Jaybird180, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    Ive never flown in the rain only a few sprinkles. Previous threads leads me to believe its not an issue.

    Wife wants to visit her parents tomorrow, which is about a 1hr flight. I've flown it before, at night and it was pleasurable.

    Forecast is rain tomorrow. I would like to tell her yes, but no idea of how to make a guesstimate as to if it will be VFR.

    Also no experience, so I'm thinking of having a CFI do a short look see with me prior to boarding my precious cargo. Any local CFIs interested?
     
  2. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    They're not forecasting any rain until 6pm in the BaltoWash area, and even then a ceiling of 4000 and 6 vis until 10 pm. Where's Mom?
     
  3. Goofy

    Goofy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    When I was learning to fly in 1973 we used to fly a 150 around the Sacramento Valley in the rain all the time. As long as we had a few thousand feet of ceiling we could fly around most downpours but occasionally had to go into one to land. Not hard once you've done it with an instructor.
     
  4. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    might still work if you wait until Sun PM to return -- take a good look at the progs and the MAV MOS graphics.
     
  5. GeorgeC

    GeorgeC Cleared for Takeoff

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    Thanks, I hadn't seen those before.

     
  6. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    IMHO just set minimums for visibility and stick with it. With no XM weather on board I still need to see the horizon before I will fly though rain. Going inadvertent IFR is not a good idea. :nono:
     
  7. MickYoumans

    MickYoumans Line Up and Wait

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    Check out this link:
    http://www.usairnet.com/cgi-bin/launch/code.cgi?Submit=Go&sta=KAGS&state=GA

    I use this plus regional radar to check my weather before making a VFR flight. The link I posted has a nice display for showing the ceiling and visibility. Just check it for all locations along your route.

    If it is just a light shower, as long as you have good visibility and are below the clouds it should not be a problem. You definately don't want to fly through a thunderstorm or squal line though. If it is just small pockets of rain here and there, you can spot them ahead of you and fly around them.

    If you are ever in doubt, get a good weather briefing from 800-992-7433 to guage if the weather is within your flying abilities and comfort level. It just isn't worth taking chances. I've been flying since the early 80's with no accidents. I'd like to think it is because of conservative decision making.
     
  8. HerrGruyere

    HerrGruyere Line Up and Wait

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    The only time I've flown in the rain so far was a few weeks ago. I obtained numerous forecasts from the ADDS, ForeFlight, TAFs, METARs, other instructors and even the FSS. They all said the visibility and ceilings were fantastic despite the particularly dismal conditions outside. I could see fairly far on the ground despite the rain, so we gave it a go. Once at pattern altitude we were just barely skimming the bottoms of clouds and could barely see the runway.

    Just some food for thought. If it were just me, I wouldn't have flown that day. But it was me and a CFI-I and we checked our sources which indicated it was nice out. So we went for it.
     
  9. DouglasBader

    DouglasBader Line Up and Wait

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    Rain, by itself, won't be a problem, most of the time. It can make seeing out difficult, and some aircraft do have real problems in the rain, but that's mostly aircraft with slick wings (laminar surfaces, found on high performance wings and some experimental aircraft). The Piaggio I used to fly definitely suffered in any visible moisture, including fair weather cumulus clouds.

    Reduced visibility is one problem. Embedded weather is another. Be careful of running into weather that you can't see, especially weather that's hidden by the rain or the clouds.

    Rain is descending and creates descending air; a lot of descending rain can be found along with a lot of descending air; this can lead to shears and microbursts and other related activity, which can be hazardous to you. In some cases, a high ceiling looks safe, and rain and virga don't appear to be a threat; they can be, and other things may be lurking in there too. Taller convective activity (thunderstorms) that are embedded in the clouds can look very much like the rest of the cloud base, but can have microbursts, hail, and other activity that could hurt you.

    Last year a local instructor that I know, admittedly not the sharpest crayon in the box, but a guy that owns five airplanes, runs a repair station, and works as a Director of Maintenance for a large airplane repair facility, encountered weather that did major damage to his aircraft. He was in a Tripacer, flying home from work, and decided to go around a cell. On the back side of the cell he encountered a shaft of hail which did substantial damage. The aircraft was pelted and damaged, and rendered unairworthy. His windscreen was shattered and he was hit with hail in the
    cockpit.

    I've had light rain turn into instrument conditions very rapidly, and turn into snow, ice pellets, icing, heavy rain, and hail, unexpectedly. Weather isn't a new subject for me: I've been involved in atmospheric research and even thunderstorm research, flying aircraft in and out of thundercells and other types of weather, and I'm acutely aware of the hazards of weather. In a light airplane, however, especially one without radar, and without a good understanding of what's out there, you do stand a chance of becoming a victim in weather. Avoiding it, particularly in light single engine airplanes as a low time aviator, is a good idea.
     
  10. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    As luck would have it, I made the "no go" call due to concerns about not being able to return in a timely manner. Turns out that the trip would have been doable. Such as it goes.
     
  11. EppyGA

    EppyGA Final Approach

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    Time to work harder on that rating. :D
     
  12. Jaybird180

    Jaybird180 Final Approach

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    Although I get a head nod from my wife on getting my IR, it will not compare to her asking something like, "don't we have an extra $xxx thousand in xxx account for you to get your instrument rating?"
     
  13. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    Doing pattern work (OEI practice) with my instructor yesterday was the most marginal Vfr I've ever been in. it was quite amazing how fast the rain could reduce forward visibility to zero (while being able to see several miles to the side and clearly see the ground out the side window, but my cfii-mei gave me a greater respect for the weather yesterday . You always hear about the pilots not trusting their instruments for Vfr into IMC, but I didn't even notice I had put us into a descent until I saw my instructor watching the gauges which I then checked to notice airspeed was increasing. I was amazed at how fast you can disorient when visibility drops to zero even if only for two seconds or so. The hood simply doesn't compare to the real deal, and I wasn't even in IMC .

    Can't wait to begin my instrument training this July.

    Also, this was e first time that the apache was out in the rain, and much to my amazement there were no leaks!
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  14. skidoo

    skidoo Line Up and Wait

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    I am trying to get a handle on this stuff too. I learned in SoCal long time ago, and I recall going out on rainy days, no problem. There it was often just overcast and drizzly or bouts of steady light rain. But, here in Montana, rain is commonly different. I often see downpours that can be just a mile away and moving somewhere else, or steady heavy rain and low or no visibility, or hail, or all the other nasty stuff. But, I also see high visibility all around and some clouds that obviously has some rain combing out of it but disappears shortly below. It was this type that I encountered just last week. On my direct to heading, that cloud with rain below was just ahead. I decided to divert around it even though it looked pretty tame. My concern was what if it contained some hail. How easily can it be identified before reaching it? Anyway, my XM weather showed nothing in the area, so I assume it was very light precip. How many of the POA would have just kept going under it?
     
  15. Threefingeredjack

    Threefingeredjack En-Route

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    As the old saying goes: "It's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground." Making the right call is a part of learning, at your stage of experience you obviously made the right call.
     
  16. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    I had a number of trips that we cancelled because the forecast didn't quite support a trip across the state VFR, only to have the weather actually be good (while we drove). My wife finally had enough and suggested I get my IR. I still cancelled a flight earlier this month, but that was due to congestion and the thought of taking an unpressurized plane to 11,000 MSL to clear the Cascades just had no appeal to me.

    Time for you to get the IR. You'll still cancel flights now and then, but there will be fewer than when you are strictly VFR.
     
  17. DouglasBader

    DouglasBader Line Up and Wait

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    Your XM weather is a nice tool for getting old data which gives you a ballpark idea of what's in the area. It's not a substitute for weather radar, and it's not current information.

    I worked a Level 6 convective cell (a very powerful thunderstorm) on night in northern Saudi Arabia. I was in a Learjet 35a, with underwing stores, numerous cameras and senors, and other equipment. I was working outside a thin green band on the radar, with a thin yellow band next to that, and everything else inside the cell was paintiing magenta. What that means is a steep gradient leading to severe weather; a nasty cell all around. I was working in the black; areas outside the main complex, and was working in the -10C temp altitude range, looking for upshear (upwind) strong rising or building convective activity.

    Radar showed nothing at my position. I wasn't attenuating, meaning I wasn't in heavy precip which prevented my seeing the weather. I had a nice image of the cell on my right, and was working around it, counter clockwise. In the clear I was hit by something that slammed my head against the top of the cockpit headliner, even with my belt cinched down and shoulder harnesses on. A sensor operator in back who was wearing on of my headsets was hurt, and it broke my headset. My laptop, in a padded case in the baggage area was damaged, and the CD drive was stripped right out of the frame. We got the stick shaker, and then the pusher, and it got very quiet and the airplane rolled inverted.

    That was an experienced weather crew in an aircraft loaded with atmospheric sensors, performing a live atmospheric research mission. We didn't see it coming, and we had some very advanced dedicated radar stations on the ground, several of which I built, providing live intelligence as well.

    In an light airplane without any of that: a capable aircraft, professional dedicated crew, highly-equipped aircraft with ample weather monitoring observing, and detecting equipment on board, and a full ground support system dedicated to that flight, were does that leave you when it comes to identifying weather?
     
  18. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That would lead me to ask why someone would tug on Supermans cape ???:dunno::yikes:
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  19. DouglasBader

    DouglasBader Line Up and Wait

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    I don't know, but it happens every year: people flying into weather where they shouldn't be. We did it because we were paid to do it as part of research activities, but I wouldn't ever go into or near a thunderstorm if I didn't have business there. My experience doing it was invaluable, and it was interesting and enlightening, but the one thing I took away from it is that I don't ever want to fly through another thunderstorm again. I've had my fill.

    Scott Crossfield was one of the "right stuff" performers at Muroc, one of the pioneers of the "sound barrier," and an experimental test pilot flying the hottest and the fastest of his time. He owned a Cessna 210, and died in that airplane as he flew through a convective cell in Georgia in 2006. His aircraft broke up in flight.

    Thunderstorms are the finger of God, and we're gnats. We should act accordingly.
     
  20. cleared4theoption

    cleared4theoption Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I had an interestin "VFR Rain" situation when I was training. I hadn't flown in a couple of weeks, so I really wanted to get up there. When I got to the airport, the ceilings were about 3,000 with VFR visibility underneath, but the potential for deteriorating conditions. My instructor said he was only comfortable doing pattern work at the airport so we would be close in case the ceilings lowered. We went up and just started doing touch and go's in the pattern. After about the third one we were on the departure leg and saw a low, dark cloud headed right for us. As we turned downwind, the rain cloud was basically chasing us, and I'm guessing the bottom of the cloud was about 1,200 AGL...as I turned final I basically descended right under the cloud and into the rain. Never lost sight of the runway, and even with that added stress I pulled of one of my better landings. It was very cool. B)
     
  21. bobmrg

    bobmrg Pattern Altitude

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    Similar situation: Purposely flew 15-20 miles from a rain shaft in clear air and got hammered by hail. Dimpled the leading edges and I had to pay the deductible.

    Bob Gardner
     
  22. denverpilot

    denverpilot Taxi to Parking

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    I bet that was loud. How'd the prop fare?
     
  23. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser!

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    :yikes::hairraise:.....

    I would have done a 180 faster then a Democrat walking into a Tea Party gathering...:yesnod::wink2::D
     
  24. Apache123

    Apache123 Line Up and Wait

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    Hey, Steve!
    My situation last Sunday was similar. I am thinking that my landings were probably assisted because I was focusing harder than ever. It definitely reinforced my decision to get instrument rated this summer.