Fortunately, doing so has become a lot easier in the past few decades. With the recent implementation of ADS-B, we have access to live weather information, either on a panel-mounted device or a tablet, without paying for a monthly subscription.
As a budding pilot two decades ago, I didn’t have the luxury of live weather in the cockpit or multiple apps or websites from which to obtain weather data. Pilots had to get their weather forecasts and reports from local flight service stations—FAA offices focused on providing information to pilots. Many years ago, I visited the FSS in Hawthorne, California, which has since closed. It looked much like an air route traffic control center—a windowless room filled with computer screens and several briefers who deciphered the weather data and relayed it to pilots dialing in on 800-WX-BRIEF or from a frequency while airborne.
Calling for a weather briefing was initially somewhat intimidating to me. I understood probably less than half of what the briefer was saying. But the call provided an opportunity to ask questions regarding the weather—a service that apps and websites don’t offer. When the briefer said, “VFR flight not recommended,” it was easy to decide to stay on the ground (before I got my instrument rating, that is).
Once I started flying in the clouds, things got more complicated. Understanding what the weather was doing—and, more important, where the most severe areas were— was a challenge. About a year after I started my primary flight training and had finished my instrument rating, I was building time toward my commercial certificate. My boyfriend at the time and I decided to make an actual cross-country flight to build multiengine time. We rented a Beechcraft BE-76 Duchess for two weeks and flew it from Torrance, California, to Martha’s Vineyard off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
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Sudden Surprise Trouble
What the FAA taketh away, it giveth back.
LIFE IN THE AIR: Living the Dream
The journey from M X to CFI
Doc, David, Herb and the Cops
A once-in-a-lifetime B-29 flight
WHEN THE MUSIC DIES
VFR FLIGHT INTO IMC
WE FLY: FLIGHT DESIGN F2
AN ALL-AROUND ALL- COMPOSITE TREAT
What works on one airplane might not work on another.
THE FLYING STATION WAGON
Blame for the 737 Max
The FAA designee program is too big to fail.
Leaving the flight deck amidst a pandemic
An Aviation Mentor
Why it’s so important
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