Though I fly through the Valley…

Summertime flying in the South. Leave in the morning and then sit around and watch the Thunderbumpers build all day. Hope they don’t form a solid line you can’t get around. They are beautiful to look at. All those tiny drops of water being boiled up sometimes as high as 70,000 feet. Water lighter than air! Like great big cotton balls all fluffy and inviting…until you fly through them. Then you get knocked around like a pea in a can! Nobody enjoys the turbulence, but it’s down the list of things pilots worry about. Slow the plane to Maneuvering Speed, pick a spot that the radar says won’t hurt you, snug up the belts, and keep wings level.

Billions of tiny water droplets.  Now that is something pilots do care about. Especially since the temps up high can be as low as -40C!  Water droplets can turn to hail and nobody likes flying through ball peen hammers. Most of the time you just pick up a little ice (see the white line on the black part on the front of the wing) and if you build up enough of it, you just flip the deice switch.. inflate the rubber boots on the leading edge and the ice pops off! Pretty neat.

Nothing like looking back through the Valley of the Shadow at a line of storms you safely navigated through. Especially at night. A great big light show as lightning causes the storms to flash light huge strobes. I love storms, just prefer them at a distance.

Bob and weave trying to stay away from the storms which show up as red spots on radar. A good weather briefing and some experience will keep you on the safe side. Sometimes the answer is a long deviation out of the way, or maybe a landing at a nearby airport while things calm down. Sometimes, it better to not takeoff at all, go get dinner and be glad you are not up there in the Valley of the Shadow wishing you were down here having an early unplanned dinner.

That unplanned dinner lets you know you have a safe pilot. Make the decision that keeps you from having to display your superior skills getting out of an uncomfortable situation. They say there are old pilots, and bold pilots, but not many old and bold ones.

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